Facebook introduces Graph Search Beta; Fails to impress


Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected, the company announced today.

“The main way we do this is by giving people the tools to map out their relationships with the people and things they care about.” the company claims on its website. It is true, but only for the people who want and who like to be searched, investigated, who have nothing to hide and for whom privacy is irrelevant…or so one may think.

“We call this map the graph. It’s big and constantly expanding with new people, content and connections. There are already more than a billion people, more than 240 billion photos and more than a trillion connections.” This is what you can read on Facebook in relation to the new Graph Search. But don’t we have already Google search and few more search based virtual platforms, complemented by integrated video and image services, in addition to features like Google talk, Google+, Skype and more.

Today, Facebook announced a new way to navigate Facebook connections and make them more useful. The company calls it Graph Search, and it starts today with a limited preview, or beta.

Investors were not very much impressed apparently, because Facebook’s shares are down 1.92% right after the graph search news.

“When Facebook first launched, the main way most people used the site was to browse around, learn about people and make new connections. Graph Search takes us back to our roots and allows people to use the graph to make new connections.” says the company on its website.

“Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page. When you search for something, that search not only determines the set of results you get, but also serves as a title for the page. You can edit the title – and in doing so create your own custom view of the content you and your friends have shared on Facebook.”

You can also expect soon some advertisement to pop up. Before all, search engines net their revenues from online advertisement. The social network monetizes on the content you and I provide free of charge without asking intellectual property royalties. On Google’s search pages, advertised URLs (websites) take about half page for some keywords search, while for others – a full first page or even few pages.

Further Facebook states on its website: “Graph Search and web search are very different. Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook. We believe they have very different uses.”

Long tail keywords are a very successful way to promote a niche product for web-masters and SEO specialists. However, the practice is not new, but rather well established by now.

On a large scale as Facebook’s one, which involves over a billion individuals and for a personalized search, long tail keyword search could be somewhat even dangerous. One may type: “my wife boyfriend party +++” and then something unwanted may pop up in the Graph Search. Something from ages ago or something new that you may not like at all. Your boss could type your name and competitor’s name or previous employer’s name and some search results may lead to you loosing your job. There are plenty of people on the look out how to delete themselves from various search engines already, so now their desire for privacy would become somewhat imposible if they have made the mistake to sign up for a Facebook account.

“Another big difference from web search is that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience, and most content isn’t public. We’ve built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook. It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.” You can read that in the Facebook’s press statement, but not long ago the social networking platform was labeled as “the biggest privacy offender” by some analysts and more users seem to think that way about it now.

The rest of the media announcement says: “We’re very early in the development of Graph Search. It’s only available in English today and you can search for only a subset of content on Facebook. Posts and Open Graph actions (for example, song listens) are not yet available. We’ll be working on these things over the coming months.

The first version of Graph Search focuses on four main areas — people, photos, places, and interests.

People: “friends who live in my city,” “people from my hometown who like hiking,” “friends of friends who have been to Yosemite National Park,” “software engineers who live in San Francisco and like skiing,” “people who like things I like,” “people who like tennis and live nearby”

Photos: “photos I like,” “photos of my family,” “photos of my friends before 1999,” “photos of my friends taken in New York,” “photos of the Eiffel Tower”

Places: “restaurants in San Francisco,” “cities visited by my family,” “Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India,” “tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends,” “restaurants in New York liked by chefs,” “countries my friends have visited”

Interests: “music my friends like,” “movies liked by people who like movies I like,” “languages my friends speak,” “strategy games played by friends of my friends,” “movies liked by people who are film directors,” “books read by CEOs”

The Graph Search beta starts today. Go to www.facebook.com/graphsearch to get on the waitlist.”

Yes, if you want your life to be exposed, your own or your family’s private photos to appear in search results, the content you have created and shared with your “friends” on the social network to show up to searching strangers from another continent, then you may like to sign up on the waiting lists.

On the other hand, if you are a marketing or online advertising manger for a big company, the new service will be very useful for you. It will help you narrow clusters of prospective clients or customers in particular locations and with particular likings. You will be able to target more successfully whole groups of consumers based on their relationships to each other. It will work perfectly for hotels and restaurants, for example.

Hopefully, this new feature won’t invade the social network in a flash and users will have the time to think before they sign up. The company says: “The roll out is going to be slow so we can see how people use Graph Search and make improvements.”

Thankfully, it ends with an invite to share your opinion: “We look forward to your feedback.”

Well, at this point of time, in our opinion it may be a wise move to halt the development of the new graph search and in state to explore something else, like a trivial smartphone that can stay only in its owner’s pocket and store his private photos and messages. Going global is suitable for very very few people and even fewer are capable of managing it. The rest of us, ordinary folks, do better sticking to the clean or dirty laundry in our own private and unsearchable reality.


  1. Having read this I thought it was extremely informative.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this article
    together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!


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