I know what you’re thinking: “Finally? But I already have Graph Search!”
Well, then you were one of the lucky ones. If you can recall, in January, we reported on the announcement of Graph Search, but it was just that … an announcement. The tool was in beta, available only to a limited number of users. I, for one, wasn’t special enough to be granted access to Graph Search. Well, it looks like now I can join the club!
Yesterday, ABC News reported that after 6 months of beta testing and user feedback, Facebook will start rolling out Graph Search to all U.S. users with English settings today. While the rollout will take a few weeks, several hundreds of millions of people will get it this week. Furthermore, Graph Search will remain a desktop-only feature, which means no mobile access just yet.
Recap: What the Heck Is Graph Search Again?
For those of you (like me) who haven’t had the privilege of tinkering around with Graph Search over the past several months, let me give you a quick overview of what it is and why it’s different from the traditional Facebook search function you’ve grown accustomed to.
In a nutshell, Graph Search uses social signals to create a truly social search experience. Focusing on four core areas — people, photos, places, and interests — Graph Search delivers search results based on ultra-specific long-tail search queries, such as “Friends I graduated college with who like to ski.” These results are based on information from users’ profiles — what they like, places they’ve visited, what they’re interested in, photos they’ve taken, etc.
Over the past six months of user testing and feedback, Facebook has made several improvements to the feature, including things like speed of search and accuracy. For instance, when a user starts typing in a search query, Graph Search will now start suggesting other relevant searches. Furthermore, Facebook indicates it’s made improvements to better understand what users are looking for in order to show the most relevant results up top.
According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Graph Search is not meant to be a replacement for regular ol’ web search. “Web search is designed to take any open-ended query and give you links that might have answers,” he said during the initial January announcement. “Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and give you an answer, rather than links that might provide an answer.”
Furthermore, at an All Things D conference this summer, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also commented that “Graph Search isn’t Web search. We aren’t duplicating what Bing does and what Google does, but rather we are making things easier for people to find on Facebook.”
Here’s how it looks:
To try it out, visit https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch and click “Try Graph Search.” It seems like doing so ungates Graph Search for your Facebook account immediately (it did for me). It will also launch a short tour to show you how it works.
The Privacy Concerns of Graph Search
Following the initial rollout of the beta version of Graph Search, user privacy concerns were a hot topic of discussion, since Graph Search gives Facebook users much easier access to older Facebook content. It’s important to understand that Graph Search results are different for each person, and the results are based on what you (as a user) have shared with the searcher. As a result, it’s important to review your privacy settings, since these settings will determine which aspects of your information are discoverable in Graph Search. To better understand how privacy settings work with Graph Search, check out Facebook’s documentation here. (Note to self: Review Facebook privacy settings …)