Facebook’s Graph Search, the tool that enables plan-language search across information shared by friends or anyone on the social network is now available to anybody who uses U.S. English as their default language. It’s a useful tool, and as more people use it it will only increase in its applications, as new meaningful searches turn up new information across different parts of the network. However, privacy will become a much larger concern, as now nearly everything on Facebook can be looked up with a simple click of a button.
If you’re not one of the beta-testers for Facebook’s graph search, you’ll be able to add it to your profile today. Over the next few weeks, the new search tool will be made available to several hundres of millions of users after the six month testing period that began in January. The tool is designed to provide answers to specific, targeted questions via information Facebook has on record about you and your friends – such as “friends who like Movies” who can then provide recommendations for films. Graph Search hits right at the heart of the Facebook privacy debate, as it makes clear just how much information Facebook can dig up on individual users to help answer Graph Search queries. It’s also an important tool to help facilitate demand-fulfillment ads, but as yet the company has taken a relatively conservative route to Graph Search Monetization.
All new features require an adoption period where users familiarize themselves with the tech. Graph Search is one of Facebook’s most ambitious initiatives that places Facebook at the center of online discovery, but also brings with it some serious user challenges. This article from Gigaom shows both the machine learning and human intervention required to streamline the product to gain mass adoption.
Facebook, at an event today, expanded graph search from its original 100,000 beta testers to “hundreds of thousands” of users, and is trying to convince even more users to get on an early access waiting list. It’s accomplishing the latter via the former: when new people get access to the service, Facebook automatically generates a news feed story, and by clicking on the words “Graph Search” in this story, you can sign up for early access as well.
Facebook is clearly making a big push to rollout the new product that overlaps with many discovery services like Google Search and Yelp. Time will tell if users will actually embrace the new functionality that would make Facebook a powerful tool for finding merchants, content and more.
Federated Media’s John Battelle released a thoughtful piece on the implications of Facebook’s Graph Search for user engagement and advertising. One of his most salient points is that Graph Search will change the type of data users share about themselves as they optimize for search in the same way companies did when Google Search picked up steam. This means more information shared, higher engagement and more valuable user data for marketers trying to reach audiences on the platform.