Friday, 18 January 2013


And, the Facebook vs. Google rivalry rages on:  First, Google implemented Google+ as a means of making itself more social (and removing itself from the solitary rank of “just a search engine”), in keeping with Facebook’s social networking status.  Then, this past Tuesday, Facebook (commonly known as the largest social network on the planet) implemented “Graph Search” as a means of making itself more useful in the “search” category (although not in the traditional sense – read on…).

The new Graph Search is what Facebook is calling its “third pillar” of service, standing alongside the already implemented News Feed and Timeline.  The concept behind Graph Search is that it allows Facebook users to effortlessly search their “friends’” photos, locations and interests.

But, does Google really have anything to fear?  Probably not.  Graph Search is not a traditional search engine, insofar as it doesn’t search the Web based on keywords.  Graph Search searches are more refined than that and what you’d be searching for on Graph Search would likely not be found on Google.  It’s more ‘friend’ or audience specific than that. In other words, most of the content you will be searching for isn’t public.

Facebook users can now conduct searches that are more personal or intimate, for example, if you want to know whether or not you should shell out twelve bucks to see a just released film, you can search how many of your ‘friends’ have seen and liked the movie.  You can search things like “photos of ‘friends’ taken in the 1970s” or, “’friends’ of ‘friends’ who are male, single and live in Toronto”.  You get the idea.

"Graph Search is a completely new way for people to get information on Facebook," Mark Zuckerberg said at a press conference at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park on Tuesday.  "Graph Search is a really big project. Eventually... we want to index all the posts and all of the content on Facebook. I thought it couldn't be done. This is just some really neat stuff. This is one of the coolest things we've done in a while."

It sounds like it’s all well and good for those who have been waiting for something useful to tap into the wealth of data supported by Facebook, but as with anything else Facebook does, Graph Search has its critics – most of whom are concerned about privacy issues.  Facebook, however, has been insistent that Graph Search will not compromise privacy, claiming that the search feature will not surface any information that is not already publicly available on Facebook. 

Facebook officials stated that, “We’ve built Graph Search with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook.  It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.”

So, I’ll look forward to giving Graph Search a try before I pass judgment.  As of right now, Graph Search is available to only a handful of users, but will be rolling out slowly over time.  What do you think?  Ready to give it a try?


  1. Yes, from a statistical perspective, it might come in useful.