When Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google back in 1998, the brilliant idea was to make the massive amount of data on the world wide web accessible to everyone. The web of 1998 was a place where search engines often returned irrelevant results and a user had to skim through many pages to find a document relevant to their search. As the numbers of documents on the web increased this became an even greater problem. Google changed this by delivering the most relevant results first and by sorting them using a smart search algorithm. Facebook graph search is the same idea applied to people instead of documents. According to their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook now has 1.01 billion people using the site each month. Facebook Graph Search is essentially a people-friendly search engine that gives you access to all these people.
Facebook Graph search
Even if you have 1000 friends on Facebook, this only gives you access to 0,00001% of the Facebook universe. Now you get access to 100%. If you think how the ‘similar music search’ in Spotify/iTunes has changed the way we discover music you can get an idea of how Facebook graph search will change the way we discover people. Looking for people that lives near you with similar hobbies? New music that your friends already listen too? Maybe a recommendation for a new book to read? Naturally, not everything you type into the Graph Search field will be on Facebook. So if Facebook has no idea what to do with your search terms, it will display results from Bing. Good news for Bing, bad news for Google.
Four main areas
Graph Search is centered around finding four types of things: People, Photos, Places and Interests. You can find, to use Facebook’s example, TV shows that are watched by engineers. Or Apps that are used by friends of engineers. Or photos of pets from your friends who live in a specific city. Literally anything in the Facebook universe that’s connected in a way that you are or want to be connected. It sounds pretty simple at first blush, but it’s actually a pretty clever way to use all of the social information that Facebook’s collected.
The way you sort through stuff is deeply reminiscent of how you’d sort through a traditional dating website. “Single Women who live within 25 miles of me with Blonde hair and Average body types and who Like dogs” is now, more or less, something you can type into Facebook’s Graph Search and get a real response. It would probably look like “Friends of My Friends who are Single and Live in My City and Female and like dogs” Or something close. You type a sentence into the Graph Search bar that has a series of filters, like either of the above examples, and Facebook Graph search will give you suggested searches based on those.
A new way to get hired (or fired)
The Facebook Graph search tool is a unique way to find and organize people. That’s why it’s very important to reconsider how you use Facebook. Until now, we used Facebook as a place to share photos, articles, viral videos and life updates. LinkedIn was the site to look professional and ready for business. Now the professional recruitment companies will use both tools to size you up. If there are certain keywords or phrases that you want associated with your profile, now it’s time to add them in. The absolute minimum should be; a full job title, job description, where you attended school and involvement with local/civic organizations. For now, Facebook Graph search will only use people, photos, places and interests to deliver results, but the company plans to include more features as development rolls on.
When Facebook shifted from profiles to Timelines, old conversations that were buried in the past were suddenly easy to find by scrolling back through the years. Graph Search takes that a step further, as anything in your history – any past conversations, any old photos or anything else shared on Facebook – will be searchable by others if your privacy settings allow it. Limiting the visibility of a photo to “friends of friends” doesn’t just control who will see it initially on their newsfeed. It now controls who is able to search for that photo, in terms of location, caption, people tagged in it, or whatever other data exists about that photograph. Facebook Graph Search is claimed to be “privacy aware” but all that really means is the service will respect Facebook’s already complicated privacy options.
Maybe the biggest thing to know about Facebook Graph Search is that it’s going to grow hand-in-hand with their Open Graph protocol. Facebook says that everything shared in Open Graph will eventually be available for search in Graph Search, meaning every like, post, comment, Spotify song listened to, (soon) Netflix movie watched—all of it will be available to be searched, filtered, and viewed by people using Graph Search. Facebook Graph Search is still in beta. If you want to give it a test drive, you can sign up here. At the moment, only a limited audience have access to the new search function, and you still have plenty of time to update your profile with information a future employer might want to know.
Freddy Aurso, MD Lighthouse8
Lighthouse8, Business Engineering