Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 28-year-old founder and chief executive, introduced the new product at the company’s first major product launch since a rocky initial public offering in May.
Speaking at a much-hyped event at Facebook HQ, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a raft of improvements to “graph search” â€” that is, the ability to search within your social graph for specifics.
Graph Search, which isÂ initially launching in beta as a limited preview for U.S. audiences only,Â will allow users to uncover social connections between other members of the site and quickly identify which friends have been to certain places, “liked” specific topics or appeared in certain photos.
It can also search based on stories or photos you’ve Liked. One example Zuckerberg offered: the site can now display which of his friends have Liked the HBO showÂ Game of Thrones. You can search for people who Like multiple products or services, which seems likely to be a bonanza for marketers.
Photos can also be ranked by which have the most Likes, based on the people most important to you in your Friends list. And one of the most useful use cases appears to be searching for local businesses that have received a thumbs-up from friends (and their friends), writes the Mashable.
“Graph search is designed to take a precise query and return to you the answer, not links to other places where you might get the answer,” Zuckerberg told reporters at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters. “What you’ve seen today is a really different product from anything else that’s out there.”
He emphasised the system did not allow members to search the web outside Facebook, quashing speculation before the event that it aimed to compete with Google more directly.
“Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: ‘hip hop’) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords,”Â Facebook explained in a press release. “With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: ‘my friends in New York who like Jay-Z’) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content thatâ€™s been shared on Facebook.”
He gave the example of a simple search such as “who are my friends in San Francisco”. It quickly returned a list of Mr Zuckerberg’s friends in the city, ranked by how close his relationship to them is, with his sister at the top, reports the Telegraph.
He had said Graph Search was particularly potentially useful for dating. A search for “male friends of friends who are single who live in San Francisco and are Indian” would return a list of potential dates for a female friend from India who was new in town, he said.
Some analysts said Facebook may be taking a tiny step toward eventually challenging Google on its home turf, but said that was a much more challenging undertaking and a long-term possibility at best.
Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia said the product was inevitable. “We think this will enable them to expand beyond display ads and ultimately compete with Google,” he said.