I signed up for the Facebook Graph Search waiting list when a notification about it popped up on my homepage. I expected to wait for a month before anything would become of it. Only a week later, I received another notification that I had been removed from the waiting list. Facebook invited me to try out the new Graph Search.
A short walkthrough taught me how to use it. Even the walkthrough felt weird, because it wasn’t generic. It automatically typed the name of my university as an example, pulling up friends that also attended my university.
Graph Search pulls up top suggestions that link to pages, places, and other users. It also offers the user an option to trigger a Web search through Bing. It was surprising, especially considering how many pieces it was pulling from multiple profiles and pages.
During my first use of Graph Search, I did track down one bug. I searched for photos of me in New York City, New York, and Graph Search only pulled up “New City, New York” as a location. I wasn’t surprised by this error, because it seems as if Facebook is attempting to catalog the real world into a sort of digital encyclopedia. I haven’t been able to find any other bugs since.
Graph Search’s functionality depends in part on its users, who will have to tag photos and statuses with places in order for searches to work well. Most of my Facebook material doesn’t appear when I involve places as search modifiers. This has changed how I will use Facebook, though—I’ll probably start tagging places with my uploaded content.
Initially, I felt uneasy about Graph Search. After using it more, I’ve become more comfortable with it. I do believe that this is the next frontier for social media. While this won’t replace Google, Yelp, or any other search tools, it will rework the way we use social networking sites. It’s now easier to find photos of myself and my friends in different years and places. I can learn information about my friends much quicker. A search for “Hair salons near me that my friends like” will yield results that I can then discuss.
I would also expect Facebook to become more specific about items we use. I’m sure that one day we’ll be able to search “My friends who own MacBook Pros” and ask them about it before shopping for a new computer. This would benefit Facebook, because it would allow for more targeted advertising—perhaps the most targeted advertising yet. This may even be the ultimate goal of Graph Search.
Currently, Graph Search is only available as a limited beta release for those who use Facebook in US English. Facebook will then roll out Graph Search gradually, in small numbers. Until then, you can join the Graph Search waiting list. Learn more about Graph Search.