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Facebook Graph Search

 Facebook’s Graph Search has been described as the “third pillar” of the Facebook site – along with Timeline and News Feed -  intended to be used as a tool to fulfil Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and more connected. The feature provides Facebook users with the ability to navigate their own personal connections, making them more useful and providing the opportunity to discover information, old and new. What value will Graph Search have to Facebook users?  The latest development of this feature was announced on the 30th September, now allowing people to search posts and statuses as well as old photos, places and people. What effect will this new development have on the use of Graph search?

Image – www.parature.com

Released earlier this year, Graph Search is already being used by a number of Facebook users, however, only those who are using the site in US English. Graph search can be used for a number of simple searching tasks, such as finding photos a user has liked in the past, or photos which have two specific people in. It can also help in discovery of new things as well as old posts, pictures or places that people have visited. For example, if you were to visit your friend in a different city, Facebook Graph Search could help you by searching for all the people who live in that one city, whereas previously you would have to search individually through your friends to find this information out.

People do not generally think of Facebook as a discovery tool, however, this is set to change with the use of Graph Search across the platform. Finding things like friends of friends who are interested in the same things that you are is now much easier, other examples of searches Facebook have given include – “friends who live in my city”, “people from my hometown who like hiking”, “restaurants in New York liked by chefs”, “photos before 1990” and the list goes on. The latest development for Graph Search was announced last week with the search now extended to posts and status updates as well as people, photos, places and interests.  Now you will be able to search for status updates, photo captions, check-ins and comments to find things shared with you – Facebook’s search engine has now become a whole lot more powerful.

However, with this power there is also the fear of what the search might bring up. Photos long ago removed from your timeline, which have not been de-tagged will be brought to the surface once more, with the ability to search through all photos which are not private. Posts which you have liked in the past, and old statuses which were long forgotten can now be brought back into view with a simple search. Does this now mean your information is available to a wider audience and your information is less private? This thought will swiftly lead a lot of people back to their activity log to make sure old content is now deleted or is set to private and cannot be dragged up through Graph Search. However, with the new roll-out of this feature some people will have the ability to search for this old content via Graph Search before others can search it for themselves, especially as this content is currently only available for US English users. Who knows what old content this might bring up? This feature appears to be making Facebook users' lives more transparent and with no opt out setting you have to be careful what information you have left open to the public.

Image -  www.abcnews.go.com

However, there are a number of valuable uses that Graph Search can be put to, which include:

-          Job-seekers can discover companies which they might be able to apply for by searching for companies who employ people in your town, or a town or city you are moving to.
-          It can help to find people who work at the companies you are interested in.
-          It can help to find where your school friends are working – and you can even filter this by degree or major.
-          This can also be used by recruiters in the reverse way.

A rival to dating websites:
-          With the new ability to search your friends’ friends and to discover people with common interests, it could be possible for Graph Search to become a new online dating space, driving traffic away from traditional dating websites.
-          One of the search fields includes “relationship status”, which means that you can specifically set it to search for “single" people.
-          As the majority of young people are on Facebook nowadays, there is great potential for this to turn into a form of dating website, connecting single people based on their interests and their mutual friends. It also takes away the stigma which has become attached to online dating, and this could even be a good thing for existing online dating sites.

-          Just as twitter updates are easily searchable and can therefore be utilised by journalists in order to crowd source or gather local information around a story, the latest Graph Search development means that the same can now be done on Facebook, making social media more useful for journalists.
-          The Graph Search, which now features posts and statuses can be utilised to find out about breaking news, giving journalists an advantage for finding new witnesses for stories or eye-witness  reports. There is an advantage of Facebook over Twitter in these cases as Twitter is limited to a 140 character tweet, whereas on  Facebook you can put longer posts. There are also a greater number of people on Facebook compared to Twitter, which increases its potential for journalists.

These are just a few ways in which Graph Search could revolutionise Facebook use, but for now we will have to wait until the feature is rolled out to more people in order to see what its real effects are.

What do you think?

Will you use Graph Search when it is available for everyone? Are you already using Graph Search? What are you using it for?

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Facebook Graph Search Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, October 03, 2013 Rating: 5
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