Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018

Graph Search – the New Facebook Power Tool

Facebook graph searchFacebook users share on average 684,478 pieces of content every minute while Google registers over 2,000,000 searches every 60 seconds. But things are about to change! Facebook has recently launched its own search engine for shared content called “Graph Search.” The stated purpose of this tool is to assist the Facebook community in finding information more easily about what other Facebook users have shared on the social network.

The process under the hood is conceptually simple: for every piece of content we share on Facebook, the platform generates indexes to categorize data. These indexes are used for information retrieval. Just like Google or Bing, the new graph search algorithm is able to run an immense number of operations per second on very fast and expensive servers. After all, there is over 140 billion dollar worth of financial value behind a social networking platform with more than a billion users.

Why is the new graph search important? It’s very simple: Google is just about to loose it’s dominance as a search engine for social media. If this is not a paradigm enough by itself, Yelp, Foursquare and other similar review sites are also losing ground. The new search engine allows people to find others with shared interests, careers or passion that live nearby, for example, creating new connections with other people. If interested in a restaurant, for example, people can search the Facebook graph to see what restaurants their friends have “liked” and read their comments about the food and service.
An interesting aspect of the new search is that it is self-contained, meaning that for each result people are sent to other Facebook pages with no need for them to leave the platform, like it happens with all the other search engines. In other words, the search result offers the actual answer instead of providing links to places where you may find the answer. This supports Facebook to become an enclosed universe, a very powerful one considering the average time of 8 hours people spend on it every week.

The graph search is able to handle queries based on people, photos, places and interests. The results will be displayed based on importance, so a restaurant with more likes could possibly show up toward the top of the list that is generated by the search. Check-ins could also have an impact on where a place is positioned on the list, emphasizing the importance and need for businesses to be actively involved on Facebook and ensuring that their Page is relevant, engaging and up-to-date.

Like mostly everything in life, with the good comes the bad. Because of this new mechanism facilitating information retrieval, we should think twice before posting on social media. The social network is essentially constructing a virtual version of you, categorized by all your activities and interests, some of which may be harmless and some of which may not. Some people go overboard with the amount of information that they choose to share with others. This can easily get us in trouble and since our personal and professional lives are intertwined, it can easily cast negative shadows over our business or job. The new Facebook search will remind us continually of how much we have chosen to share with the world about our online behavior—whether we realize it or not, forcing us to reconsider the nuances of the network’s privacy settings.