Facebook launches Graph Search to peer into your friends' lives

Search gets personal with Facebook’s new social graph, which narrows its scope to your own life and connections. Google sighs with relief

It’s no Google killer, but Facebook has launched its own search engine. The new feature, called Graph Search, lets you pull focus on your sprawl of social media contacts, concentrating on the slice of the network’s billion users who are friends – or have shared things – with you.

Mark Zuckerberg and co stress Graph Search is “privacy aware” and won’t put your entire profile at the mercy of anyone searching for “cow tipping” or “passed out”. It will, however, let you search for people you know in a given city or country – and you’ll be able to find recommendations for anything from restaurants to records using the world’s favourite online Rolodex.

It’s unlikely this will stem the flow of users moving away from Facebook to a new breed of social network, but it is bound to give the Venn diagram a new lease of life. Graph Searches can be combined to find, for example, friends who live in London and like seafood. Or those who've passed out while tipping a cow.

The real purpose, apart from recommendations, is to make other people easier to find. So if you’ve met someone at a party, you can find them based on how they know a mutual friend, where they work(ed) or study/ied and their first name, for instance. Owing to that privacy issue, however, this will only work for people with open profiles. Oops.

Facebook has also indexed photo search, which lets you easily filter down to pics of your mates cow tipping or passed out.

Oh, and there's Bing integration for searching the wider web. Did we say it wasn't a Google killer? Can we reserve the right to qualify that at a later date? That's a big score for Microsoft, we'd say.

Facebook Graph Search is available immediately in a limited beta, but will be slowly rolled out to the rest of the world as time goes on. Yes, the release schedule is that vague – don't hold your breath. Find out more here.

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