Facebook is constantly evolving and creating new features. Some of which we love, and many of which we dislike and complain about for months until the next new change comes out for us to complain about. In mid-January Facebook called a press conference to revel the next big feature they were going to roll out. Many people speculated what the new product would be: a phone, mobile platforms, new look, but what they unveiled was a new search feature called Graph Search. Simply put, Graph Search is a search engine for Facebook. It will allow you to sort and search your friends based on four filters: places, people, interests, and pictures. For example, if you want to find all your friends that are from Chicago, Graph Search will produce a list that only shows you friends that are from Chicago. Say you want to know which of your friends “like” @Midwest Social Media Conference. Graph Search could tell you that also! Graph Search will filter through all your friends’ information and give you the results you are looking for without having to search page by page.
I see Graph Search as a tool that could be used to connect people based on the common interests. It’s a way to connect with current friends and seek out new friends that share common interests. It’s a way to see which doctors or restaurants your friends “like” or recommend, and a way to filter through the massive amounts of data stored on everyone’s profiles. I personally don’t know how relevant such a tool would be for me to use. I don’t have an interest in meeting new friends and I am fairly aware of what my current friends’ interests are. But I also come from a generation that calls friends on the phone and talks to them in person verses just having a relationship on the computer. I don’t need to learn about my friends on Facebook because I already know who they are.
Where I could see this new search feature having some relevance is for businesses. They can find out who “publicly” liked or tagged their establishments, products, movies or music and potentially connect with clients based on relevant search results. I can also see this new search feature being used as a tool for online dating. Singles can now search friends of friends and others that have same interests as them and that live in their area, and it’s free unlike other dating sights. I have not yet been able to test the new Graph Search since they are only allowing a limited number of participants in this soft launch but I am curious to see it’s fully capabilities and how it will be used. Just because I may not personally see value in it doesn’t mean I don’t think it can have some valuable application for the Facebook community.
Now I know there is an ongoing debate on the safety of your information on Facebook and many people are concerned about their privacy. From what I understand, your information is still secure. How Graph Search will work is it will only be able to search information you put on your profile and make visible to your friends or to the public. For example, my page is set only for my friends to view and I “liked” the @Midwest Social Media Conference page. If one of my friends wanted to know which of their friends also liked the page, I would then show up in the results of that search. But Facebook also has a privacy setting that will allow friends of friends to view your information so in that instance friends of friends could show up in your search results. So for those of you that worry about their privacy, please always remember that you control your privacy settings. A tip that I can share is you should go to your profile page often and view it as others see it so you are aware of what you are making public. It’s simple to do; go to your profile and click the drop down arrow on the right of the page under your cover photo. Click “view as” and that will show you what your page looks to the public. If you see things on your page from that view that you don’t want to share then go into your privacy settings and make sure everything is set on “friends only”. This will also take care of the pesky problem of your information showing up on non friends timelines because your friends commented on or liked your status or photos. So instead of posting statuses about having your friends change their settings to protect you; you change your settings because you are still in control of what you share!
Want to learn more? Facebook’s Graph Search information site includes videos, a preview and an invitation to sign up for Facebook Graph Search Beta. Check it out and let us know what you think! Do you think this is something that will have valuable application in your personal or professional life? Feel free to comment below or email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.