Graph Search is Here

On Monday, July 8, Facebook officially rolled out Graph Search to all of its English-speaking network users.  After selective public testing since January, the newest search function is now widely available and will be made available to all users in the coming weeks.  This seems to be one more step in a new direction that Facebook is taking.  That of finding and connecting with people you don’t otherwise know.

The Introduction of Hashtags

When Facebook introduced hashtag functionality to the network last month, they were making a change that showed a clear shift in design.  Before hashtags, there was no direct way to find others to whom you weren’t already connected, that were talking about a certain subject matter.  Hashtags opened the door to searching for common interests rather than common friends. Now with the introduction of Graph Search, Facebook is making it even more efficient to find new friends that share common interests whether or not you have mutual acquaintances.

Facebook as Search Engine

Graph Search works by searching for keywords in different capacities than ever before.  For example, if you were to use the standard Facebook search function for the keyword “bicycles,” your results would include pages about bicycles and profiles with the word “bicycles” in the name, as well as links to other bicycle oriented websites from around the web.  Now with Graph Search, if you enter the same search term, you are given the option of specifying that you want to search for “people who like bicycles,” “my friends who like bicycles,” “photos of bicycles,” etc.  The functionality goes even further, allowing you to add extra layers of filtering to the search results.  You can get very specific with search terms like “single women who live in Dallas, TX and who are interested in men and like bicycles,” which will yield results that are exactly what you would expect.  This implementation of semantic search combined with the volumes of personal data on the network, could be a real game changer for how Facebook users interact with the website, and each other.

How do you think this shift will affect the way people use Facebook?

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