Facebook hopes to revolutionize web searches with 'Graph Search'
Published Tuesday, January 15, 2013 8:27AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 15, 2013 3:21PM EST
Facebook on Tuesday debuted "Graph Search" -- a new aspect of its social media environment that allows users to search for specific information that is directly relevant to them.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement Tuesday at the company's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, ending days of speculation that ensued after bloggers and reporters were invited to the secretive event.
Billing Graph Search as "a new way for people to navigate their connections to people and content on Facebook," the new technology allows users to search for specific information filtering data in a customizable way.
For instance, Zuckerberg said, if you were hosting a viewing party for “Game of Thrones,” you could ask the system: "Which of my friends live in San Francisco and like 'Game of Thrones'?" and the search tool would display people from within your network who qualify, filtering them based on factors such as the number of mutual friends you share.
The social or "living" aspect of the search tool is what separates it from Google or other search engines, he said.
The search system also has an auto-complete feature that is meant to guide users in crafting their query.
“Unlike web search, every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience based on privacy settings. Graph Search is built with that in mind and honors the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook,” an online post Tuesday from the social networking giant read.
The new feature is available starting Tuesday, in limited beta testing format for people who use Facebook in English.
In the hours ahead of the announcement, Facebook's share price had climbed as technology analysts speculated about the nature of the announcement.
The company's shares were on the rise throughout the morning, reaching a peak of US$31.71 per share -- the highest the stock has climbed since Facebook's disappointing initial public offering in May. But minutes after the announcement was made, the shares dropped to $30.45.
Some analysts had speculated Zuckerberg will reverse an earlier stance and announce Facebook was entering the smartphone market, launching a handheld device designed specifically to optimize the mobile Facebook experience.
But that would have been at odds with comments made last fall, when Zuckerberg said a Facebook phone "is so clearly the wrong strategy for us."
Others had suggested that Facebook could be entering the hardware business by another door -- perhaps a tablet designed specifically for Facebook.
It was also speculated that the company would announce another overhaul to the way its one billion users' news feeds appear, the monetization of messaging, a better mobile-advertising model or search updates.