After the profile and then Timeline, Facebook has announced its latest innovation: Graph Search, a project born way back in early 2011, represents the third major change which we experience Facebook’s version of the web. We knew this was bound to happen: since it started, the social network has lacked a sturdy search function, a way to take full advantage of Social Graph.
Remember that hot chick you met at the hotel party who makes pottery and lives in Manhattan? Now with Facebook’s coveted Graph Search, users can search for Friday night dates, music recommendations or job opportunities from personal network(s). Some say Google should be worried. Others aren’t as impressed with these search functions. The tool is still in beta, but there’s no shortage of opinions on how this social search can be used and whether it will catch on.
How Does It Work?
Facebook’s search tool is based on two parts. The first is a natural-language processor and the second is an internal-retrieval tool. And, according to Graph Search developer Lars Rasmussen, one of the key components to launching Graph Search out of beta will be the ability to index all of the posts and comments people have shared on Facebook.
So while Google uses every piece of information it can find to return the best results for any search topic, Facebook’s project uses every piece of information it has about you to provide the best search results for you. A Google search for credit card processing providers, for example, may return “Capital Processing Network” because its the most generally desired response, while a Facebook Graph search of the same keywords may return friends who have expressed an opinion on credit card processors.
Depending on your intentions, either result could be considered superior.
What it Means for Google?
Google has been thought of as the most comprehensive solutions in web search, but in using personal information, Facebook’s Graph Search represents a tool that Google can’t match. Google struggles with chronology. Newer things are easy to find. Older stuff can be impossible. By connecting our friends, status, Likes, photos and updates, Graph Search could pinpoint a moment in time, according to Facebook experts.
However, in a report by BusinessInsider.com, Graph Search isn’t exactly a direct competitor to Google. Analysts believe that Graph Search won’t challenge Google for search dominance either.
“Overall, Graph Search offer users a unique view to information not available on Google, but does not replace Google,” according to BusinessInsider.com.
If Google continues to invest in Google+, its answer to Facebook, the search giant could conceivably collect enough personal information to compete with Graph Search.
Facebook’s new search capabilities may not challenge Google, but that doesn’t mean it won’t effect the online world. According to Forbes.com, Graph Search has a better chance of tapping into recruiting, dating and entertainment search markets dominated by sites like LinkedIn, eHarmony and Yelp, respectively.
Facebook gave an example of how recruiters could use Graph Search, explaining that it could find employees of NASA who are friends of Facebook employees. Users may or may not prefer Graph Search to dating services. Some may desire to date friends of friends, but others may prefer the distance of online dating services, Forbes also reports.
Time will tell how much users respond to this innovative search technology, but Facebook will almost certainly use its unprecedented amount of personal information in more creative ways.