After much hyped-up fanfare over a mystery announcement, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg revealed a new search function that gives users the ability to find out more about what their friends like.
Facebook users can now find out more about what their friends like after the beta version of graph search functionality was announced Tuesday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The search function would work only for content on Facebook that has been shared with the user, according to a tweet by Los Angeles Times reporter Jessica Guynn, Zuckerberg emphasized that graph search is both "privacy aware" and "powerful."
Graph search allows users to find movies and apps their friends like, Facebook said. Graph search can bring up a user’s photos, interests and places he or she goes.
For example, if a user wanted to find out who likes to go hiking, they can search for “friends who like hiking.” The search engine results then bring up a list of friends’ profiles who list hiking as one of their interests. Or, they could use the search engine to find out which of their friends work for the same company or previously visited a destination they’re interested in.
They can also use the search engine to find photos taken of themselves or their friends.
The search is separated into four different categories; people, photos, places and interests.
Facebook will use Microsoft’s Bing as its search engine provider, though Zuckerberg said he would like to work with Google as well.
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The search will be available for mobile after Facebook “perfects the search experience,” Guynn tweeted.
The announcement came along with changes to Facebook’s messaging that now makes it possible for anyone to message anyone, regardless of a user’s privacy settings. Instead, a user can set their messages to basic or strict filtering, which sends messages to a separate folder.
Facebook has posted a YouTube video on how privacy works with the search engine.
Initial reactions to the graph search ranged from enthusiastic to tepid. John Battelle, a journalist at SearchBlog, said the move will help address what he called Facebook’s "engagement problem."
“Facebook needed a service that layered a fresh blanket of value over its core topography,” he wrote. “Graph Search is it.”
Tom Gara at the Wall Street Journal, however, said that while the search engine is useful when trying to find out about one’s friends, it neglects any other relevant information found outside of Facebook on the Internet.
“If you’re looking for almost any factual information about anything, Facebook search has little to offer,” he wrote. “There’s a reason sites like Wikipedia, IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes come up so often at the top of search rankings: they’re reliable sources of real information.”
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