Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has finally launched its much-awaited search engine. The new product, named Graph Search, will eventually allow more than a billion users around the world to use Facebook’s vast network and vast amounts of data to search for anything they might need. For example, the search tool will help users do a number of things like look for a single woman to date in Sacramento or jobs within their area known of by a friend of a friend.
Facebook says the name Graph Search comes from Facebook’s conviction that they are “giving people the tools to map out their relationships with the people and things they care about.” They call this map the graph. The company claims that it has more than a billion users, more than 240 billion photos and more than a trillion connections. And these numbers are constantly growing.
Graph Search works differently than many had anticipated, in that Facebook is not so much out to introduce a better search tool than Google, but instead is out to offer a new kind of search – one that cannot be offered by the Google search engine.
Unlike other search engines, Facebook’s Graph Search will not use the usual method of searching web pages for keywords, but will instead make use of data in Facebook and allow users to combine phrases (Facebook’s example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) in their searches. Graph Search will make use of things such as the likes and dislikes of Facebook users worldwide. One can search for a competent architect using the likes feature or even a good restaurant as recommended by the number of likes or dislikes.
The new search tool is now in beta, and only available in English and to a limited number of users. Also users can only search for a subset of data on Facebook at this time. As the product develops it will be rolled out to more and more users.
This first version focuses on four main areas — people, photos, places, and interests.
As with many things related to Facebook, privacy concerns are among the first issues being raised. In its announcement, Facebook went out of its way to counter these concerns. As usage grows, we’ll see how well Facebook handles these issues.
For more information and to sign up for the waiting list, click here.