Facebook 'Graph Search' - the experts' view

by Dean Harvey
by Dean Harvey
January 16, 2013 02:16 PM GMT

Following Facebook's announcement of 'Graph Search', a new smart social search engine, two industry experts give their views on the move.

Although the development has underwhelmed many industry watchers who expected Facebook to launch a more direct assault on Google, 'Graph Search' is expected to have implications for travel.


Dean Harvey, digital development director of Designate

After weeks of speculation, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage yesterday at the company's headquarters to announce the social site's newest feature - Graph Search.

The tool is billed as a new way for Facebook users to find people, photos, places and interests on the site that are most relevant to them.

Launched initially as a limited beta version (you can join the waiting list at www.facebook.com/graphsearch) users are able to search for a subset of content on Facebook, with the first version of the tool focusing on four main areas: people, photos, places and interests.

Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page, and sets out to help users instantly find others, make connections, explore photos and quickly find places of interest such as local attractions and restaurants.

This has particular resonance for those within the travel industry, as the power of recommendations within social networks is well documented. Examples of the way you can search using the new system include:

“Friends of friends who have been to Yosemite National Park”
“People I know who like skiing”
"Photos of my friends taken in New York"
“Cities visited by my family”
“Tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends”
"Countries my friends have visited"

This is where research for travel or holiday plans could be given a new lease of life, placing in the user's hands a powerful research tool. Without relying on traditional search or reviews it's possible to actively seek out the opinions of those you trust.

The new tool could help users find overlooked photos, posts and "likes", allowing them to sift through data that was previously available, but potentially difficult to find.

On the sensitive subject of privacy the official Facebook statement read: "Another big difference from web search is that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience, and most content isn't 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.

The roll out is going to be slow so we can see how people use Graph Search and make improvements."


Andreas Pouros, chief operating officer of Greenlight

On the one hand, users will be very happy to get this new functionality that Facebook is calling ‘Graph Search’.

It is innovative and powerful, and will allow people to search within Facebook, albeit restricted to what they can see and read right now.

It allows the user to search across people, places and interests using structured queries, e.g. ‘Friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter', or more usefully perhaps ‘Which restaurants do my friends like in London’.

Ordinarily the user would ask that question by posting it on their wall - now the tools are there to allow the user to just search. Innovative, very cool and the first major addition of functionality Facebook has seen since Timeline.

Many had expected Facebook would have launched a new mobile phone today or thrown down the gauntlet to Google and challenged the company in web search supremacy, neither of which happened.

Web search is a touchy subject as everyone knows that it is a hugely lucrative market and one Facebook was expected to enter.

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