Facebook has unveiled a new social search engine at an event at its Menlo Park headquarters. The feature, currently in beta, will allow users to search Facebook content, returning personalized results. The social network giant has also partnered with Bing to provide certain web results to the service.
Graph Search aims to use the service's one billion members, 240 billion photos and one trillion interpersonal connections to create a more precise, personalized search experience. The service will include information such as photos, status updates, location data and people's “likes."
It differs from a standard web search in that it allows users to make more complex queries by combining phrases, thereby accessing content specifically relevant to them. What this means in practice is that you'll be able to input basic queries such as “who are my friends who live in San Francisco?” and receive tailored results generated from content shared with you on Facebook.
The first version of the service will focus on four main content areas: people, photos, places and interests. This should allow for a fairly wide range of queries such as “photos I like," “tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends” or “music my friends like." Facebook has also partnered with Microsoft and Bing to incorporate certain web results into Graph Search. This will allow data such as local weather to appear on the service.
With the introduction of a feature such as this to a service with such a large user-base, privacy is a hot topic. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quick to assuage fears, stating that the company has dedicated ten percent of its computing power to ensuring user privacy and that the new service will be “privacy aware." Graph Search will display any content shared with the user and can access anything that they themselves have shared publicly, or specifically with individual users. If everything works as it should, then users shouldn't have to alter their current privacy settings.
Graph Search is currently limited to beta and is in a fairly early stage of its development. When one attendee at the press event asked if Instagram photos would appear in the results, Zuckerberg stated that “... it's important to remember that this is a beta product. The reason some things aren't in there now is because it's really hard to get this right, and we're still working on it.”
If you're interested in being one of the first users to try out Graph Search, then head through the source link to sign up for the beta now.