The Facebook juggernaut celebrated another milestone today when it launched Graph Search – a new multi-functional search engine that aims to replace Google. And then some.
In a filmed message, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that the new search function would become of “a pillar of Facebook”. At present, the social media giant’s search capability is limited to finding friends and tracking down old classmates. It also notoriously unreliable and hard to use. Graph Search addresses those limitations and more.
Graph Search is more than a thinly-veiled Google replacement. It personalises the search by collating information relevant to your life. So you get results that are tailored to your location and tastes instead of data that is anonymously determined according to Google’s often mystifying formula of keywords, meta-tags and links.
Let’s look at an example. Say you want to search for a restaurant. Graph Search will present you with options based on where your friends have checked in. Likewise, music and movie searches will reflect what’s popular with your circle of friends based on pages they have “liked”.
Given the search engine’s reliance on recommendations, Facebook is going to prompt you to review everything you have ever shared or liked before Graph Search officially launches. That will give you the chance to reconsider any lapses in taste, which are about to get even more public than before.
It’s an exciting step forward for the social media powerhouse but there are some drawbacks. Graph Search can’t tap into other apps like Instagram and Spotify, which is quite an omission if you’re searching for music. Also, if there’s no information in your network, you will simply be bounced to Bing. This will be a rude awakening for a generation weaned on Google.
There are also privacy implications. While it’s true that your privacy settings won’t change, your personal likes and dislikes will be on display for your friends to see every time they search for a restaurant or bar. Lastly, what if your taste diverges from your friends and family? They’re relations – not movie critics and foodies. An objective opinion might be better on some occasions.
Despite these reservations, there’s no denying the impact that Graph Search will have on the way we use search engines and even connect with friends. Now that you know your check-ins are being monitored, there could be a temptation to opt for food and music choices that won’t leave you open to ridicule.
Facebook’s new weapon is still in beta and will roll out slowly over the next few months. Watch Zuckerberg’s announcement below.