Rumours have been flying around for quite some time, but yesterday Mark Zuckerberg and his team made it official: social media behemoth Facebook has created its own search engine, a feature known as “graph search”. The development will allow users to make “natural” searches of information shared by their friends, such as photos, status updates, location data and likes.
The search function is primarily intended for users to find information about their friends and fan pages, but Facebook is integrating Microsoft’s Bing search engine to their site, in case users require further detail. Contrary to popular opinion, Zuckerberg stated that the search engine was not created to rival Google, saying he “does not expect” people to start using the site for all of their web search needs.
“That isn’t the intent,” he explained during the unveiling at Facebook’s headquarters in California. “But in the event you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s really nice to have this. We’re not indexing the web…We’re indexing our map of the graph. The graph is really big and constantly changing.”
Some users have expressed concerns about privacy, but Facebook developer Lars Rasmussen was quick to stress that “on graph search, you can only see content that people have shared with you.”
Mark Little, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, said that he was initially underwhelmed by the announcement, but concluded that the development could prove useful on both a personal and corporate basis.
“I think probably people were looking for something a little more strategic,” he explained. “On the plus side I think it’s going to help drive connection within the network between individuals and between companies and pages. If you are increasing connections between friends and pages you are effectively increasing the reach of advertisers.”