Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new type of search engine on the social networking site, providing users with a new way to search for photos, people, interests and places.
Zuckerberg unveiled the search tool yesterday, saying it is intended to offer users “precise answers”, rather than a link to an answer, by leveraging the data already at hand on the site. For instance, if looking for whom among your friends took a photo of Nairobi, the new Facebook Graph Search could be your go-to service.
Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page. When users search for something/a>, the search determines the set of results received in addition to serving as an editable title for a page, thus allowing users to create their own custom view of the contents shared on Facebook.
Facebook must have been fully aware of privacy concerns that the tool could raise. In response to this, Facebook said: “We’ve built Graph Search from the start 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.”
The new product has been interpreted by some as a direct shot at Google, the search engine leader. “Entering the search market gives Facebook the opportunity to compete with Google and Microsoft by giving advertisers a real use for all the likes and shares they collect on the site,” the Washington Post writes.
“If Facebook would decide to become serious about search, it would be in a position to give Google a run for its money,” saidKarsten Weide, an analyst with IDC, a financial research company, as reported by the Times of India.
Facebook, however, has explained that its Graph Search is very different and offers completely different uses compared to typical Web searches, as the latter is designed to take a set of keywords and provide the best possible results that match those keywords.
With Graph Search, however, users combine phrases — for example: “my friends in Kenya who like HumanIPO” — to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that has been shared on Facebook.
An additional notable difference from Web searches is that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience, and most content is not public.
“We’ve built Graph Search from the start 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,” Facebook said.
The new product is still in the early stages of development and is currently only available in English, while it is unclear as yet how Facebook plans to monetise the service.
“This could potentially be a business over time but for now we’re focused on user experience,” Zuckerberg told Forbes.