aNewDomain.net—Facebook has long talked about how it would revolutionize the way people can search for the Internet and now it’s hoping to live up to that promise.
Facebook introduced a beta version of its Graph Search tool, which is the company’s most ambitious effort to change how people search for information on the Web. While Google and Microsoft Bing search and filter results from public websites, Facebook’s Graph Search mines member-related information for search results. It’s intended to rival Google and Bing, as well as other services like LinkedIn for jobs, Match for dates and Yelp for restaurants.
“Graph search is a completely new way to get information on Facebook,” Zuckerberg said.
It’s available to a limited number of Facebook users in the “thousands” he said and will gradually be extended to every user.
Facebook is betting that its users would prefer to search information from the mountains of social data-based information it has collected over the years, rather than Google or other search entities. Yet the company engineers who created the search tool, who happen to be former Google employees, told the New York Times that Graph Search won’t reach its full potential if Facebook data is sparse. Success hinges on Facebook users becoming more comfortable sharing more information, like favorite doctors, meals, and other personal data.
Facebook is also hoping that people will continue to like and recommend more things on Facebook in order to be more useful to their friends, said Tom Stocky, one of the creators of Facebook Graph Search, in a separate New York Times article.
“You might be inclined to ‘like’ what you like so when your friends search, they’ll find it,” Stocky said. “I probably would never have liked my dentist on Facebook before, but now I do because it’s a way of letting my friends know.”
However, numerous studies have found more Facebook users are become much more diligent about how much they reveal online, especially with educators and employers looking over Facebook profiles.
The American Civil Liberties Union posted a warning suggesting Facebook users review their privacy settings. It cautioned that “controlling your personal data means controlling not only who can see your information but how it can be found and what can be done with it.”
Indeed, there isn’t a one-click Graph Search opt-out that makes it easy to not be included in Graph Search, suggests Stephen Balaban. Some comments and suggestions he has for Graph Search are:
- Graph Search currently breaks the privacy model
- If a photo can’t be seen on my profile, don’t show it in a Graph Search
- Build tools and settings that let easily manage our Graph Search privacy
Yet Zuckerberg made it a point to address privacy concerns: “The search we wanted to build is privacy aware,” he said. “On Facebook, most of the things people share with you isn’t public.”
Chandler Harris is a freelance business and technology writer located in Silicon Valley. He has written for numerous publications including Entrepreneur, InformationWeek, San Jose Magazine, Government Technology, Public CIO, AllBusiness.com, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer’s Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine, ClearanceJobs.com, and the San Jose Business Journal.