Why you should care about Facebook Graph Search

Zuckerberg's new toy is now available to everyone who speaks US English. And it's actually pretty cool...
Why you should care about Facebook Graph Search

Graph Search? Sounds like maths. What does it do?

Agreed, it’s not the greatest name ever, but Zuckerburg Inc.’s new toy looks pretty cool. And useful.

Say, for example, you wanted to organise a ski trip with people from work. With Graph Search, you can theoretically type in ‘friends from work who like skiing’ and you will be presented with a list of alpine-inclined office chums. 

Alternatively, you can search for photos that you’ve liked, of a particular person, in a particular place, from a particular time, and so on. So ‘Photos of Gary Lineker and me from Ski Trip 2012’ will allow you to relive those snowy escapades of yesteryear. Oh, Gary. What are you like?

How does it work?

Graph Search – restaurants

Like Wolfram Alpha, Graph Search will use semantic search techniques. It learns certain phases and structures that act as filters for your query. Theoretically, you can layer these on top of each, so if you’re in sudden need of “photos of friends from France who like films that I like”, then it’s got you covered.

What’s the catch?

Graph Search – photos before 2000

As the experts amongst us who’ve watched The Social Network will know, Jesse Eisenberg is against intrusive advertising. For now, then, this means that our searches aren’t littered with suggested pages and whatnot, but we’re not sure how long this digital chastity will hold out for.

The important part from Facebook’s point of view, is that you can also find restaurants, shops, movies, music etc. that your friends have liked or checked in at, complete with reviews and a star rating. Useful for us users, and a clever way for Facebook to make their ‘like’ currency more valuables to businesses. But really, how many things that you ‘like’ on Facebook do you actually like?

I am a sucker for those ‘like and share’ competitions...

Graph Search – movies

Aren’t we all?  It's a bit of a 'Big Data' can of worms: just how much of the data on the web about you is accurate? How honest are you in your social networks? Do you really like terrible rom-coms? Fortunately, within Facebook at least, you’ve got time to sort out those unwanted likes. There’s no set date for a UK roll out , even though it’s already available in North America. So although you can’t yet search with it, you may be being searched for by people across the pond. Time to check those privacy settings again.

I’m being snooped upon without being able to snoop?

US English – before and after

Indeed you are. But if you’re feeling particularly sneaky, you can change your language to US English to up your chances of getting it before your less-savvy, non-stuff-reading pals. You’re welcome