Facebook’s Personal Google : Graph Search
So yesterday saw the the launch of Graph Search, a new feature set for Facebook which allows you to delve into the like-library of your friends and mine whatever information is available. And with 1 trillion likes in their database the pickings are many and varied.
Searches are based on the following elements: -
- What you’re looking for
- Who the filter list is
- Where the things are
So searches might include: -
- Photos of friends living in California
- Photos by friends who have visited Edinburgh
- Restaurants liked by friends who live in London
- Friends who work in IT and have traveled to Spain
The potential for finding a large amount of relevant information is massive. But then so is the potential for getting those great results polluted by content from non genuine friends.
I’ve been a supporter for years now that on networks such as LinkedIn you really should only link to those people you trust and recommend. This ensures that any links that pass through me are quality links. If you’re on my ‘list’ on LinkedIn you’re someone that I recommend others to work with if they get the chance. This also means that if I get an alert from someone, I know I should pay attention.
For me, on the new Graph Search, I expect that I’m going to get great results. But what about those people that have 750 FarmVille ‘friends’. When they search aren’t they going to get results that are polluted with the likes of people they don’t necessarily trust?
Filling in gaps
Search is something that’s been lacking on Facebook for some time now. The site undoubtedly has it’s supporters and detractors but I think it’d be hard for anyone to dispute that there is potential in the sheer volume of information that’s in there. But it’s been hard to get to. Hopefully now that Zuckerberg and his team have a Jobsian grade search engine in place we can all get at the good stuff. For now, for most of us, we’re going to be stuck with lackluster search capabilities. We’ll keep an eye out for information provided by the lucky few in America who are getting their hands on the new features and post their findings here.
Final Thoughts : Development
My hope is that we’ll see the features of the Graph Search exposed as an API that can be consumed by apps and ads alike. It’d be great to see ads being created and presented based on my likes and where they’re not available, my friends like. This should at least keep them interesting if not entirely relevant.
Apps could also benefit by providing meaningful context as a starting point for providing services. At the moment, beyond web apps, I’ve not seen anything particularly compelling which uses Facebook as anything other than an authentication source or a place to store photos. Now I can see TripAdvisor hooking into my friend likes to generate results and also to bubble up information about locations I’ve viewing that my friends have been to. Points Of Interest providers could generate POI data on the fly to my SatNav based on friends experiences in the area. Any number of existing datasets could expanded using this kind of like-pedia, essentially using my Graph Search data as a filter or ordering technique.
There is so much potential within Facebook itself to enhance the user experience and drive users directly into the Facebook interface where they can leverage that into ad revenue. But without Facebook having a way to convert indirect API Graph Search queries to revenue, I can’t see a compelling reason for them to widen the scope of use. I personally hope they do come up with some kind of revenue sharing approach or billing method to allow the features to be rolled out wider. There is a google-esque opportunity here and I’m hoping they grab it with both hands.Google+