Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a press event today to unveil a new feature known as ‘Graph Search’ that, while currently in its beta stages, will soon be included alongside the Newsfeed and Timeline currently offered on the popular social networking website, which features over a billion users. The Graph Search will fill in the blanks leftover from the Newsfeed and Timeline, the two aspects of Facebook that are currently available. Each of these sections of the ‘Facebook trinity’ will feature a certain aspect of the connections available between Facebook users.
The Newsfeed is a collection of statuses and updates to Facebook user pages of all of one’s Facebook friends, so it essentially can tell Facebook users what’s currently going on in the lives of their Facebook friends. The Timeline is the feature that allows Facebook users to know a bit more personal information about one of their specific Facebook friends. Each Facebook user has a Timeline that displays all of their interactions with other Facebook users, the statuses and photos that they have posted, as well as plenty of other information.
And now comes the Graph Search, which should fill in the blanks between ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are you doing?’. Though the Graph Search will still adhere to current privacy settings that are set up on Facebook profiles, it can be used as a search function to get broader information and find select individuals. For instance, Facebook users will be able to easily search for which of their friends (or friends of friends) speak Spanish, live in Dallas, went to University of Florida, or all of the above.
The intention of Graph Search is to further connect Facebook users. In Facebook’s earlier years, it was easier to find connections to other Facebook users, based on one’s favorite movies or what groups the Facebook users both belonged to. In recent years, this connectivity has been replaced as Facebook has been updated. As Zuckerberg has stated, the Graph Search feature is a call-back to Facebook’s roots of being used to make new connections.
Though the Graph Search is not a full-fledged Internet search engine, it can be used to easily search for things like “photos I’ve liked” or “friends of friends who are single in San Francisco” with instant results. Additionally, Facebook will be featuring Bing results in Facebook searches; while Facebook and Google do not have the same functions, it is unsurprising that the two act as competitors and that Facebook would affiliate itself with Bing, considering Google’s attempt to directly compete with Facebook with the mostly failed Google Plus service.
The market’s reaction to the announcement of Graph Search has been fairly low-key, as Facebook’s shares fell 2%. However, some market critics are saying that Yelp, Inc., a company focused on online reviews and recommendations, may suffer from Facebook’s Graph Search feature, as users will be able to easily see restaurants and other services that their Facebook friends have ‘liked’. Thus, Yelp’s shares falling more than 6% was a predictable turn of events.