Today Facebook revealed a new “Graph Search” at its event in California. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg insisted that this is not “web search” and doesn’t expect people to start flocking to Facebook to search the web.
“We are not indexing the web,” he says. “We are indexing our map of the graph, which is really big and constantly changing. Almost a million new people every day. 240 billion photos. 1 billion people. 1 trillion connections.”
“Friend connections, locations, likes, comments, tags, it all adds up to indexing all this content and making it so you can retrieve it instantaneously is a really hard technical problem.”
Microsoft’s Bing search engine is also being integrated for when the graph search could not find answers. The new tool will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of the page, and when you search for something, you can retitle the search results page to whatever you want. The new search will include things such as photos, status updates, location data as well as the things they have “liked”. In the past Facebook’s search had been criticized by many people for being limited and returning poor results.
Facebook’s new graph search was demonstrated at the event to be significantly more powerful. In a demo by Tom Stocky, he showed a search for queries such as “friends of friends who are single in San Francisco”.
Tom suggested that this search could be used for recruitment to find people who fit criteria for certain jobs – as well as mutual connections. This type of search is a key function of LinkedIn, which is currently the main social network for establishing professional connections.
Google has been trying very hard in recent months to try and provide users with the most relevant social search results, but this would of course not be possible without Facebook, the most dominant of social networks. This said, the new graph search will not be in direct competition with Google. Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.” whereas Facebook want to “Make the world more open and connected” which of course are very different.