Facebook gets serious about search
Facebook has announced the launch of Graph Search, a new way of searching that is more 'open and connected'.
At a press event in California yesterday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed the new search tool, calling it the "third pillar" of the service alongside News Feed and Timeline.
Using data from across the user's profile and network of connections, Graph Search promises to return uniquely personalised results. An official blog post from Facebook explained:
"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."
Graph Search currently uses information including friends and family, photos, places and interests (Likes), with functionality for posts and music coming soon. Results can also be filtered by location, age, gender, employer, relationship status and relationship to the searcher. Users will therefore be able to search anything from Mexican restaurants in Manchester that family have visited, to single male friends of friends in London who like Batman.
Search with a social layer
Graph Search marks Facebook's first new product announcement since its IPO in May 2012, after which shares tumbled and user numbers reportedly declined. As the Guardian reported, the launch is conveniently timed to fall just before the Q4 earnings call on 30 January, as with the right reception Graph Search could cause confidence to rise again.
Of course, Google has also tried its hand at search with a social layer, launching Google+ in June 2011. However, membership and user engagement has so far failed to match up to Facebook.
Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, commented: "Facebook has the unique opportunity to use its social network as the basis for a search engine, rather than the other way round like Google. This tool will be very interesting, if only as a novelty, but what will be really intriguing is how Facebook proposes to make money out of it."