Facebook unveils a better search tool

The announcement wasn't flashy, and the stock price didn't respond much. But the social network is taking an important step to building a solid infrastructure.

By Kim Peterson Jan 15, 2013 2:46PM
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about Facebook Graph Search on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo)Let's face it: Searching on Facebook (FB) has been a miserable experience. It's hard to find people, things, interests, trends or pretty much anything else. Instead, going on Facebook has been pretty passive -- you basically sit there and endure a fire hose of status updates.

That problem is at the heart of Facebook's highly anticipated mystery announcement Tuesday. The company didn't announce a new phone or a new gaming platform -- and the stock price barely moved as a result. Instead, it announced something called "Graph Search" to let people take a more active role in the Facebook experience.

The way it works, according to early reports, is this: You can do a Facebook search for people, photos, places and interests. Facebook demonstrated a search for people who live in Palo Alto, Calif., and like the television show "Game of Thrones." You could also search for "college friends from San Francisco."

Facebook clearly wanted to stress that this was not the equivalent of a Web search. Google (GOOG) has little need to worry, which is perhaps one reason why Google shares saw a small spike as the announcement was being made. Instead, this is only a search within Facebook's own content.

The Graph Search isn't a flashy announcement. But it's an important part of Facebook's infrastructure, a building block upon which the company can start building more services and features -- and sell more advertising.

Graph Search and the resulting map function that users build "can be the basis for building a lot of different kinds of services for connecting," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at Tuesday's event.

Will it lead to privacy issues? Undoubtedly. But Facebook says it's merely collecting information that users already make public in their profiles. If you said you like "Game of Thrones," and you didn't make that information private, you could likely show up in a Graph Search. It's a good reminder to always stay on top of your Facebook privacy settings.

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5Comments
Jan 15, 2013 3:48PM
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Not impressed.  I don't have a FB.account, don't ever plan on getting one either.  I won't invest in the company.  Reminds me of My Space.  It's just a media company.  Nothing more or less.  The consumer will find something else as they always do.

Jan 15, 2013 2:54PM
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Doesn't bother me.  Haven't been treated rudely, overcharged for nonsense, or groped for 25 years now.  Have very much enjoyed the drive going anywhere.  And no, I don't want to fly off to some pseudo tropical resort where people are starving and living in poverty a half mile away from tropical vacation section heaven.  And this great new photo shop app lets me put my picture into a billion scenes from around the world so all my friends believe I am a great world traveler. 
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Facebook is so useless that some sites require it to get people to respond to their silly articles.  If it wasn't for them forcing it upon the general public, Facebook would be long gone.

 

Do you notice that Facebook and Obama are not in this site's dictionary???

 

"Spell check detected 4 mistake(s)"

Jan 15, 2013 3:44PM
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Well lets see now.... He's had much of that $$ for years now and has likely doubled it thru investments using very savvy financial advisers he had access to. Even if he tries to buy forgiveness returning some of what he was paid, he's ahead millions and all because he CHEATED. Let's all
salute Lance for being a brave little trooper and carry him thru the streets, yes a true Hero.
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