Facebook Announcement: Facebook Graph Search

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We’re watching the big Facebook announcement (not a Phone or Messenger for iPad) live and the big deal (thus far, the event isn’t over) is Facebook is rolling out “Facebook Graph Search” to help you find out more about your social graph. (See updates below).

Here are the features and examples that Facebook is rolling out with Graph Search (from the press release):

We’re very early in the development of Graph Search. It’s only available in English today and you can search for only a subset of content on Facebook. Posts and Open Graph actions (for example, song listens) are not yet available. We’ll be working on these things over the coming months.

The first version of Graph Search focuses on four main areas — people, photos, places, and interests.

People: “friends who live in my city,” “people from my hometown who like hiking,” “friends of friends who have been to Yosemite National Park,” “software engineers who live in San Francisco and like skiing,” “people who like things I like,” “people who like tennis and live nearby”

Photos: “photos I like,” “photos of my family,” “photos of my friends before 1999,” “photos of my friends taken in New York,” “photos of the Eiffel Tower”

Places: “restaurants in San Francisco,” “cities visited by my family,” “Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India,” “tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends,” “restaurants in New York liked by chefs,” “countries my friends have visited”

Interests: “music my friends like,” “movies liked by people who like movies I like,” “languages my friends speak,” “strategy games played by friends of my friends,” “movies liked by people who are film directors,” “books read by CEOs”

One of the big concerns people will have is privacy. Your privacy controls just got a lot more complicated because now more of your photos, likes (books, movies, etc), associations (work, school, etc) are going to be easily searchable and “connectable” by your Facebook friends. The photo below gives you an idea of the kind of granularity we’re going to be seeing in the near future:

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Another interesting tidbit from Zuckerberg regarding privacy: “To give you a sense of how much work this is, already today across all of our data centers 10 percent of CPU capacity is spent computing privacy checks.”

During the event, the engineers demoed examples like: “Restaurants in San Francisco liked by Culinary Institute of America graduates” and”TV shows liked by software engineers” — “Big Bang Theory tops the list, not too surprising. The results are pretty amazing actually. This project has been years in the making needing to match and map trillions of connections between people and among groups.

This is how Zuckerberg described the scale of this social graph mapping: “We are not indexing the web. We are indexing our map of the graph, which is really big and constantly changing. Almost a million new people every day. 240 billion photos. 1 billion people. 1 trillion connections.”

Just amazing stuff. Amazing engineering. I can’t imagine how many more servers are going to be required just to store all this information, much less keep it constantly updated.

Not in the press release is the answer to “what if I search for something that isn’t graphed…” The answer is that Facebook has partnered with Bing (wow): “When we can’t find what you’re looking for we have a partnership with Bing to show you world class search results for things that don’t match your query.”

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Throughout the event (from the live blog text), the fact that this feature is in beta and in limited rollout (not to mention this: “Graph Search is a really big project that will take years and years to index the whole map and the graph, but we’re really excited about people, photos, places and interests today.” -Mark Zuckerberg), so don’t expect that you’ll see it yourself anytime soon. You can (as I’m sure millions of people will do shortly), ask to be on the wait list to try the feature.

From the Q&A…

“How soon on mobile?” someone asks.

Zuck: “hard for us to estimate how long it will take”

Mobile is a huge part of Facebook’s traffic right now, but still I can imagine the enormity of trying to bring all this into the mobile app…at least for now.

On why Bing/Microsoft over Google:

Question from audience: “Was there any consideration for working with Google?”

“We want to make search social, and that’s how Bing is doing it, and Graph Search is something totally different”

This might not be a phone or new app, but ,wow this is cool stuff. It’s a step towards pulling all the connections we’ve made (on Facebook, but I’m sure other networks will start to follow suit—they have to really) into something that could be useful day to day.

Well, we can guess. Have to wait to see for ourselves as the beta slowly rolls out.

Images from The Verge live stream.

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