Facebook Graph Search officially launched in January of 2013 and introduced by Facebook in March. So what is Facebook Graph Search exactly? It is a search engine geared towards Facebook specifically. It uses natural language, or semantics, of it’s users to help them find content that they may be interested in or content that may be useful for users. By introducing a semantic search engine Facebook has made it easier for users to find what they are looking for by using sentences or even parts of sentences.
Currently, Facebook Graph Search, or FGS as I will call it in the article, is currently only available in English. The search results are tailored within a user’s network of friends, groups and pages. Essentially, FGS knows what a specific user’s likes and interests are based upon pages they have liked and interests they have specified on their personal profile page. It is also paired with the Microsoft search engine, Bing which provides users with even further results if they don’t find what they are looking for within the Facebook platform.
When Facebook Graph Search first launched it did very well at searching for things through the semantics the user used in the search box. But it could not tailor search results to users’ interests very well because Facebook did not have a section on the profile pages for a user’s interests. Therefore, as you may have noticed recently, Facebook has once again changed the layout of users’ timelines to include sections such as, Movies You’ve Watched, Books You’ve Read, and so on.
There are many positive aspects to look at with Facebook Graph Search. Firstly, it makes it easy for a user to find restaurants, attractions to visit, what to buy, and so on and so forth. All of these results of course are tailored to a user’s location and to the specific things that are “liked” within a user’s network of friends.
Secondly, FGS makes it easier for a user to find a person with similar interests, hobbies and locations. The image to the right (photos and names have been protected) is an example of “People who like Ford Mustang”. The first results for people who like Ford Mustang start with a user’s friends on Facebook. Then it moves to people who are not friends, but who are friends of a user’s friends.
Facebook has purposely restricted a user’s network in way when it comes to people in this search result and search results of the like. It wasn’t until I got through 71 pages of results for people who like Ford Mustang before I found a user I did not have at least 1 mutual friend with. This is how strong Facebook Graph Search’s sense of a user’s network is. After the 71st page, I then found users whom I was not friends with, but they were all in the same area as me, mostly Indiana.
There have been some negative aspects to Facebook Graph Search as well. It can cause a very negative light for some companies who employ people that like socially negative things. The image to the left
(actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com) is a prime example of this. This specific search is the example of how interconnected Facebook really is. So, for companies, FGS can be a powerful tool when marketing to the public. But these companies also need to be aware of what their employees are posting on Facebook, ‘liking’ and of what they are interested in. Thankfully, Facebook has always made this easy.
One more negative aspect of the new Facebook Graph Search I would like to point out is the issue of privacy. Facebook seems to constantly be updating its privacy settings and adding features to users’ settings and accounts. Overall, Facebook privacy is very well thought out and doesn’t leave room for loopholes. The only problem is that many users don’t understand the privacy settings as well as they have trouble figuring out where to go to change these settings. When it comes to powerful and concentrated search engines like FGS, this can lead to users being included in search results that they do not want to be included in.
The photo above for example, (http://actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com) is an example of how a users’ personal life can effect their job or career, just with a simple search.
All in all, Facebook Graph Search is a very personable and useful platform for all kinds of Facebook users. The only suggestion I can make is that Facebook let its users know more explicitly how the new search engine can and will effect them. Also, they need to clean up how users can change and edit their privacy settings in order to preserve the privacy that Facebook Graph search has the ability to take away. Currently you can adjust privacy settings from the Timeline, an Activity Log link located on the cover image, a privacy tab at the top of a user’s page, and the through the settings tab at the top of a user’s page. Having numerous ways to edit privacy is good but they should be linked with one tab or button on users’ pages instead.
Britney M. Elbert