If you live in the US, you're English speaking and you're on Facebook, you probably would've noticed the rollout of Facebook Graph Search over the last few weeks, on the 7th of August 2013, to be exact. While it seems like an average, run of the mill search bar, the capabilities behind it are quite spectacular - once you start playing with it.
For people who are already connected to their friends, it gives you added closeness to them by allowing you to search for specific information, hobbies, photos or activity, down to the most absurd amount of detail. For those who are looking to meet people, it's a great way to hook up with likeminded folks who share the same interests as you.
Additional Clarity And Granular Detail
With our timelines becoming overloaded with information, photographs and updates, Facebook Graph Search offers a way for you to fine-tune your search so as to pinpoint those treasured memories and re-live them. You can search in a number of different ways, including:
- Searching using key-phrases linked to interests or hobbies, such as "friends who enjoy mountain climbing"
- Search by photographs, such as "friends who've taken photos in New York"
- Search for locations your friends have visited, restaurants they've eaten at or bands they love
- Search for specific personal descriptions, such as those who are single, or those who work in human resources if you're looking for a job
While this might all sound quite standard, it's the level of detail and the manner in which the results are returned that intrigues me. Some of the examples on Facebook of valid queries you can type in include: "restaurants in New York liked by graduates of the Culinary Institute of America" or "people who work at my company and like to ski", or even "music liked by people who like the music that I like" - say what? Talk about longtail key-phrases! But even with the seemingly cumbersome search queries that can be used, the results seem to be accurate.
Each search is unique and people will be shown different results based on a number of elements, such as their query, interests and circles of friends. So this obviously raises the issue of privacy, and how this is controlled? According to Facebook, this is entirely dependent on your personal settings and the audience you choose for each post, ie: only you, your friends or completely public. As a Facebook user, you need to realize that public settings could have some random people trying to connect with you because you both drink sundowners at the corner bar. For some this is fantastic, for others it's nothing short of creepy.
They are encouraging people to review their privacy settings for any and all posts, including status updates that have been made in the past. You still have the ability to change or delete anything, as well as update your settings, so perhaps it's not a bad idea to use the search functionality to find those embarrassing company function photographs that should never be seen again!
We'd love to hear your thoughts on Facebook Graph Search; is it making your life easier or simply complicating matters?