Graph Search, which has been in preview mode since January, offers customized information for individual users, based on information they and their friends have shared. For instance, a straightforward Google search for "good pizza in NYC" would probably yield mostly newspaper and Yelp reviews. A Graph Search query, on the other hand, would show pizza-related posts from friends and family.
Another example, this one from Facebook: "If you search for 'Photos of San Francisco,' you'll see photos your friends took there and shared with you, as well as Public photos. This means if someone else does the same search, they're going to see different results because they have different friends, and different photos have been shared with them."
Facebook users should start to see the new Graph Search bar on their homepage over the next few weeks. The whole project, of course, will be a big boon in helping Facebook better cater to advertisers, who in turn will know more about potential customers. It will also directly challenge Google, increasingly a Facebook competitor.
Not that it will be particularly easy to go up against Google – especially considering how many years the Mountain View company has spent building and refining its search tool. As Sarah Perez of TechCrunch points out, there's also the question of how kindly users, in the age of PRISM, will take to sharing their personal information, even if does mean a better search experience.
Facebook, she adds, "will critically need to be able to tap into third-party data sources where it may seem more natural to share such activity – a song you like on Spotify, for example, or a sushi restaurant you didn’t only check-in to, but also actually enjoyed. Graph Search today falls short in these areas, but the product is still in its very early days."
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