Facebook being Facebook, it's no surprise we hear a variety of rumors regarding the company's future plans, especially more so since it became a public company last year. Two in particular: Facebook competing directly against Google in search and the Facebook smartphone have been a constant for quite some time, but we had yet to see either pan out. Well, no more.
Graph Search is opening in limited beta today, touting a different model of search that leverages data about your friends and connections to come up with results for queries such as "people who like things I like," “photos of my family, “restaurants in San Francisco,” or “movies liked by people who like movies I like".
Do you recognize a pattern? Facebook is launching Graph Search focusing on four main attributes: people, photos, places, and interests. Although it looks a lot like semantic search on the surface, Graph Search is currently limited and the nature of the results is bound to your own profile's completeness and accuracy, as well as your friends'.
During the announcement, Mark Zuckerberg was quick to point out "Graph Search is not web search", which removes some of the early pressure on going against Google or how accurate and useful your Open Graph search results should be. Then again we shouldn't question Facebook's ultimate intention to become a full-service search provider and true competitor to Google in the near future.
Facebook also tackled the inevitable question of privacy, saying that current settings apply and that only content that was already available would be displayed in search results. Further, Facebook disclosed that as much as 10 percent of their server's computational power is spent on filtering and enforcing user's privacy settings.