Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Facebook's Big Announcement, Graph Search

Following an announcement of a scheduled press event for today which led to nearly a week of rumors and speculation Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally took the wraps off the company's "big" plans. While most rumors had the company prepping a smartphone or new mobile strategy, Zuckerberg said its focus is on a new social based search.

Dubbed "Graph Search", the new tool will use the thoughts and opinions of the sites 1 billion users to search and sort results for you. Over the years Facebook has built a massive collection of information about what company, restaurants, retailers and gadgets its users have tried.With Graph Search Facebook will comb through that data and give you a unique search view based on the reviews and information provided by not only the rest of the Facebook users but also your friends, and even their friends.

"Facebook Graph Search has the potential to really change the game over time," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "The power of Graph Search comes from Facebook's sheer size. The more data there is to search and map, the more valuable the results. It can make Facebook a much more valuable tool."

The tool, which is available now, is still in its very early stages. The beta version rolled out today on a limited basis to users on the order of hundreds or thousands, Zuckerberg said, and is years away from being complete. At the moment, Graph Search can only handle queries based on people, photos, places and interests.

While the new search tool is still in its infancy it isn't coming without trepidation. During the event, Facebook executives where it with questions from the audience regarding privacy controls, including whether queries performed using Graph Search will allow people to see likes or other friends' information that is currently hidden from their own timeline. Facebook executives assured attendees that with Graph Search users can only see content that they could see before, and users can only search for content that has been shared with them. The company is also rolling out more user-friendly privacy controls to keep users' information hidden and make it easier to untag photos.

For more on Facebook's new Graph Search checkout this page, complete with sign-up list and a few videos.

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