Facebook – Your New Search Site? [Poll]

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it is developing a search feature for the information contained on its website. Currently you can search for names of people or businesses on Facebook, but you can’t search for all of your friends who liked the movie “Les Miserables” or who live nearby and like sushi.

That’s about to change.

What Is the New Facebook Search?

While traditional search engines such as Google allow us to search for websites, images, maps, news, mathematical formulas and even recipes, Facebook’s new search, called Graph Search, will allow you to search information provided by your friends, your friends’ friends, and anyone else whose information you have access to on Facebook. You’ll be able to find information about:

  • people
  • places
  • photos
  • interests

The search categories are limited to those four categories initially but eventually you’ll be able to search for other information, such as information in their Timeline posts or News Feeds (for example, “which of my friends have listened to Jay-Z on Spotify?”).

Graph Search also allows you to search for people based on their stated profession, marital status, location and other profile information. Facebook could be used as a employment search tool similar to LinkedIn or as an online dating site. You could use Facebook Graph Search for travel information, for example, searching for pictures of Paris from your friends who have visited and/or lived there.

If Facebook search doesn’t produce any results (let’s say none of your friends have pictures of Paris on their Timelines), your search automatically will go to Bing. Facebook has partnered with Bing to provide search results when Facebook search doesn’t provide results, saving you from having to do a second search on the Internet.

Want to find out which friends have tastes most similar to yours? Search for “people who like things I Like.”

For examples of Graph Search results, check out Mashable’s 10 Things We Learned From Facebook’s Graph Search.

Because there is no Dislike button, you won’t be able to search for your friends who don’t like peanut butter, Angelina Jolie’s dress at the Academy Awards, or the name that Will and Kate choose for their new baby (or babies?).

The search results will also be limited to the content on Facebook. Looking for your local friends’ favorite plumber? You may be out of luck, a plumber will only show up in your Facebook Graph Search results if that plumber has a Facebook page.

Do Your Friends Like to “Like”?

Your Graph Search results will also depend on how active your friends are on Facebook. If your friends regularly Like their favorites, your search results will be more valuable than if your friends rarely go on Facebook.

TechCrunch has implied that Graph Search may confer upon us a social duty to Like our favorite things to improve our friends’ search results on Facebook. Facebook Graph Search Makes Privacy Seem Selfish


Before you panic that suddenly your preference for _________ (fill in the blank with your most embarrassing Like on Facebook) will now appear in public search results, know that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, assured reporters that nothing that wasn’t made public before will become public on Graph Search. “Nothing is visible now that wasn’t before,” said Zuckerberg at the press conference launching Graph Search.

What This Means for You

If your privacy setting is restricted to friends only, then only your friends will see your Facebook information in their search results. If your settings allow the public or friends of friends to see your Facebook information, then those people will see your information in their search results.

If you embrace the idea of Facebook searches, you may want to make your Timeline more public. You may want your Likes to matter even more than before. Check out Mayura de Silva’s article, Let Anyone Follow Your Social Updates on Facebook to make your Timeline updates available to anyone, without having to bother with actually friending them on Facebook.

On the other hand, if you want to be certain that your Timeline posts are restricted only to your Facebook friends, you should check your privacy settings now. 3 Privacy Settings You Must Change Before Using Facebook Graph Search from Gizmodo explains how to make sure your current, past and future posts are private.

Getting Started with Facebook Search

If you want to give Facebook Graph Search a try, well, you can’t do that quite yet. Facebook isn’t making this available to everyone right away. Instead, it’s asking for volunteers to try it out in Beta, a testing phase, so it can squash the bugs before making it available to all members. If you want to volunteer, go to Facebook sign up and cross your fingers that you’ll be among the first to test it.

Your Thoughts?

Reactions in the press have been extremely mixed, with some claiming that this is a game-changer from Facebook (see, Slate‘s Look Out, Google: Facebook Unveils Personalized Search Engine), while others aren’t nearly as impressed with Facebook’s news (see, Facebook’s ‘Graph Search’ No Google Killer by The Fiscal Times).

What do you think about Facebook Graph Search? Are you excited to use this feature? Vote in today’s Wonder of Tech poll and let us know your thoughts!


Bottom Line

Facebook’s Graph Search will provide us with a new way of finding out information about friends’ photos, places and interests. While the search results won’t be as broad as a those from a traditional search engine, Facebook’s results may be more personal, and perhaps more valuable, to you.

Have you signed up to test Facebook Graph Search? Do you think this will have an impact on Google? Are you changing your privacy settings? If so, are you making your Facebook more or less public? Will you Like more things to improve your friends’ Graph Search results? Let us know in the Comments section below!

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  1. Hajra says

    Somehow I feel it is more of a tool to excite people rather than being too helpful. I don’t know why but I think that way as of now. Maybe when I use it and get addicted to it, it might be a different thing!

    • says

      Hi Hajra, I like how you’re keeping an open mind about Graph Search. The information may not seem very useful now, but the first time we need the information and we get it from Facebook, we might be hooked!

      I personally think that this is designed to be a revenue generator to satisfy investors who are looking for Facebook to monetize its database. Google generates ad revenue based on its search engines, it learns about people from their searches so it can display targeted ads. Facebook already knows much more about us from our activity there, searching would only enhance their knowledge of us, allowing them to provide better data to advertisers.

      It’s interesting that Facebook is gaining opportunities for added revenue, increased market value, and better user experience all in one new feature.

      Time will tell whether Graph Search increases the market value of Facebook as well as bringing value to its users.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Twitter Chats – Get Together with TweetsMy Profile

      • Hajra says

        I would understand what potential they can hold. Though as a user for personal reasons, does it hold much potential?

        • says

          I think it might. After all, you have a lot in common with your friends. So if you want to find out if a movie is any good, you ask your friends who have seen it. But you may not know who has seen it or be able to contact them while you’re at the movie theater trying to decide which one to see.

          By doing a quick Facebook Graph search you can see which of your friends liked a movie. If you know that Kathy likes the same kinds of movies that you do and she Liked the movie you are thinking of seeing, you will be making a more informed movie choice. Or restaurant choice. Etc.
          Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Twitter Chats – Get Together with TweetsMy Profile

  2. says

    Informative once again Carolyn!

    I loved the deep research you have done with this post, and I would surely have to go through all the links all over again soon after I comment here to study it all in detail :)

    I for one am not really the kind of person to go much deep into Facebook, though I might be checking the graph once it comes up to see if I want to use it or not. It’s surely going to help all those who are wanting to look out for their friends and places etc., though I wonder why they didn’t partner up with Google and it was Bing that they chose instead.

    Thanks for sharing this with us, and I would surely be sharing this well-researched post with my friends too. :)
    Harleena Singh recently published this awesome post..12 Steps to a New Beginning in LifeMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Harleena, Great question! A reporter at the press conference actually asked that very question. Zuckerberg said that Facebook had approached Google, but they couldn’t work out a deal. The issue was that Facebook wanted to maintain the ability for users to remove posts. Google refused to allow this, it wanted its search results to be constant. Bing was willing to allow user posts to be removed so Facebook did the deal with Bing.

      Dozens of articles have been written on the topic, but I wanted to link to the ones that provided the most interesting and helpful information here.

      Thank you very much for your kind words, Harleena! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Which iPad Should You Get?My Profile

  3. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    It could be useful for me to find people locally. I am always careful what I post on Facebook. I posted my snow pictures today! It’s still snowing. The forecast said millimetres of snow, I think we have had 8 cm so far. It’s quite light though , it will be worse after it freezes tonight and settles. I moved some of it and cleared my car, I might be able to go out tomorrow and take a few photos. I’d like to photograph the lake with snow on it or at least arround it. I was taking pictures at 2:30 this morning out of the window!
    Mike Maynard recently published this awesome post..Winter foodMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Mike, Yes, I read from a friend’s Facebook post about the snow there. Does your town have snow equipment? In the London area there is none to be found so people have to wait for it to melt.

      I think local Facebook searches could be helpful, as well as searches to find which friends liked movies. If you’re debating which movie to see, you could search Facebook to see which movie had the most Likes from your friends.

      As of now, Amazon doesn’t have a Facebook connection for Likes, but perhaps that should be added. You could discover new books by which ones your friends Liked.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Best Apps for Successful Students!My Profile

  4. says

    Hi Carolyn

    I’m not sure whether I like the way Facebook will be using information about me or not. I don’t think it feels right to me but I’ll wait and see.

    Looking through my news feed I’d say only about 25%of the information on there is public from all of my friends so I’m sure it will be a similar thing for many people.

    While you may be able to discover things about friends and friends of friends, if you’re looking for a more general overview from a wider population, you may not be able to get it.
    Tim Bonner recently published this awesome post..W3 Total Cache Has Been A Total FrustrationMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Tim, Good point. There is something about this that doesn’t feel right. When we post on Facebook for just our friends, we don’t expect it to be included in search results. But perhaps we will get used to it in time as we use it to gain information.

      If you have a Sainsbury’s card and get Nectar points for your purchases, you are giving up privacy about what you buy when you swipe that card. Here in the US, many stores have loyalty cards with points and discounts, but no one thinks twice about relinquishing their privacy for a slight discount off of their groceries.

      Will we get used to having our Likes show up in the search results of our friends? Will we then want our Likes to be public to register our opinion? This should be an interesting development in how we regard our privacy.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Tim!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..MeetUp – Get Out There!My Profile

  5. Brian D. Meeks says

    The issue I have when Z says “nothing that wasn’t visible before will be visible”, is that how many freaking times has HE (Note: capitalized HE was substituted for the capitalized ‘the bastard’ that seemed to better fit the tone I wanted to capture. I digress), changed out permissions through some sort of FB magic. Every time I turn around FB is messing with me.

    I don’t trust them, not one bit.

  6. says

    I think that Facebook is a great resource for friends to find friends, and business’s to create/generate traffic. But, for search, I do not think they are going to replicate or compare to G. If search is based on other people’s timeline, then it is a limited database of information to grab from. However, if the backup resource is Bing, then that might be the fighting chance they need. I have not done any research at all on this, so I am basing this on your info here, but it seems that the search is based on who your connected to, not a index of information… Correct?
    Justin recently published this awesome post..Boca Raton SEOMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Justin, You’re right, your Facebook search database is supposed to be anyone whose information you have access to on the site. So if you can see friends of friends because of their Facebook settings, then their information can be shown in your search results. If someone has public information, then you can see that information too.

      So your search terms become very important to make sure you are getting the information you want. Perhaps you only want to search your friends’ information, you need to specify that. If you want to include friends of friends, you need to say that too, but not all of your friends’ friends information will be available to you, only those who have set their privacy to allow that access.

      Bing will be the default. If your friends aren’t actively Liking their preferences on Facebook, you may end up on Bing more than you had planned!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Tire Rack – Don’t Spin Your Wheels When Buying Tires!My Profile

  7. Sapna says

    Hi Carolyn

    Great information shared!

    I think this Facebook graph search has the potential to become a hit because at times we are looking for this sort of info.Having said that, how much harm it can do to the privacy that has to be seen.

    Thanks for sharing this great info


  8. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I appreciate your sharing! I feel like I can never catch up with new developments to FaceBook. I am glad that I have your site to go to for future updates and learning. Thanks!

    This Graphic Search idea can be very powerful in identifying who do we want to connect to. Partnership with Bing is another powerful feature. I have already heard others doubting the value of Google ads. Hopefully, this will stimulate Google to give out even more freebies to the public :)

    Viola The Business Mum
    Viola Tam recently published this awesome post..What’s Inside Navigating the Network Marketing MazeMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Viola, I’m so glad you found this helpful. Yes, even when we’re familiar with social media sites, we can have difficulty keeping up with the changes. From the poll results so far, more people are reacting positively than negatively to this news. When the Graph Search is released to the public, we can see if people are pleased with the way this feature actually works.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..MeetUp – Get Out There!My Profile

  9. says

    It’s an interesting idea, if friends are actually posting anything valuable. However, most of my friends that are posting anything worthwhile are usually just repeating their blog posts or articles that they have found. Every now and then, someone posted something a while back, so search might be a good way to find it.

    I tell people – don’t trust privacy settings. If you don’t want it to be on the front page of the New York Times, don’t put it on FB.

    A good review of what is to come, Carolyn.
    Leora recently published this awesome post..6 Online Ways to Get Your Creative Juices FlowingMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Leora, That is excellent advice, though the reverse doesn’t seem to be true. If you put something on Facebook that’s no guarantee of publicity when you want to spread the word!

      You’re right, though. Too often people think privacy settings are iron clad. They certainly aren’t so putting embarrassing pictures or information about yourself or others is always a bad idea.

      The new search feature may encourage people to Like more things so their opinion counts in search results. It may also encourage more businesses to get Facebook pages so their pages can be found more easily.
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Tire Rack – Don’t Spin Your Wheels When Buying Tires!My Profile

  10. jawad zaib says

    looks good the new Facebook graph search but most people is comparing it to Google Search which is a total different thing, anyway i am looking forward to it thanks for sharing this nice info with us….

  11. Dadblunders says


    Like so many other “new” features that facebook implements there will be people that like it and others that don’t. I always take a “wait and see” approach. I want to see the feature and see if it actually offers me any benefits.

    The one thing that people need to understand (and I know you do understand it) is that technology is fluid. We are constantly improving on it and changing it. If we weren’t we would still be stuck in the horse and buggy (or worse still trying to light the first fire in a cave)!


  12. says

    Carolyn, I just want you to know how much I appreciate your comprehensive posts, information and links. I’m not a very savvy techno-person, so your posts always help me understand what I usually don’t at first. Thanks! Kaarina
    Kaarina Dillabough recently published this awesome post..Is it #TeamBlogJack time?My Profile

    • says

      Hi Kaarina, Thanks so much for your comment and kind words. The Wonder of Tech isn’t written for savvy techno-people, it’s written for everyday people just like you! I’m so glad this blog helps you keep up with the ever-changing world of tech, Kaarina! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Top Tech to Try in 2013!My Profile

  13. says

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’ve signed up for Graph Search beta when I get to know about that and yeah, I’m excited to test it out without a doubt though I’m not liking the feature ~ Message for a buck. There could be privacy concerns, but I hope our social data is in good hands as Facebook is not partnered with folks who wanna steal our data. In most cases, it would be people who kill their privacy by without knowing whether their posts goes public or shared with friends only. It’s sad yet folks don’t get some stuff and not concerned about things they share on Facebook.

    I’ve seen Bing has been more socialized with deeper Facebook integration and it’s true that Bing will be benefited from Facebook’s Graph Search. Anyway this is not overnight dominance of social search,and they have room to improve. I’m very glad if Facebook take feedback about the Graph Search from users. No clue yet though.

    Instead of finding friends who liked something, I’d more prefer find friends of friends who has similar interests. I can see more and more feature after Facebook rolling out this Graph Search for everyone. Yeah, Google and Google+ gotta get ready for it as Facebook still holds the largest social data source. However one things for Google is that Google+ is their own social network. I think if Facebook comes up with their own search for web instead of Bing, the competition would be triple or more. Anyway things not easy as we say :D lol…

    I think you are awaiting for it and I’m looking for the email from Facebook ;) Let’s see what they have got for us and I can see social data gonna spread accross the web with object oriented programming and more benefits to come for bloggers and webmasters too.

    Thank you for including my post here for your WOT folks dear :) I really appreciate it…

    Mayura recently published this awesome post..How to Use Multiple Google Accounts at OnceMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Mayura, That’s interesting that you are more curious about your friends of friends rather than your friends. I suppose that would give you a larger pool of information to draw from, perhaps with better results.

      You’re right, competition is good. Google is competing with Facebook in social media with Google+ and Facebook is competing with Google in search with Graph Search. If this competition leads to a better user experience then everyone will win!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Which iPad Should You Get?My Profile

  14. Sue Neal says

    Hi Carolyn – thanks very much for explaining this. I think I’ll reserve judgement for the time being and see how it goes – I’m not a huge fan of FB, kind of use it under duress because I feel it’s a bit of a ‘must do’ – and I must confess there’s a little voice inside me crying out ‘oh, no! not another social media thingy to get my head round!!’

    At least I feel a bit better informed after reading this, though – so a big ‘thank you’ for that!


    • says

      Hi Sue, If you’re not a big fan of Facebook, then this development probably won’t change your mind. If you’re not keen on what your friends are sharing already, then you probably won’t be searching for more information about them.

      But if Graph Search encourages more people to share and register their Likes, then perhaps Facebook will become a more interesting place for you!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Best Apps for Successful Students!My Profile

  15. says

    HI Carolyn,

    I signed up for FB search and I completely agree that it is going to be very useful. Let us say I am looking for people who have interest in certain areas I am planning to start my new blog. I can always target them for brand awareness. It will also give advertisers a lot of opportunity to mine the already existing data. This kind of service is long due and may be a money minting machine for FB ( if they open it commercially). I think its a smart move that will pay after a number of missteps by FB.
    Thanks for the awesome post :)
    Ashvini recently published this awesome post..Large companies need to encourage entrepreneurship, here is whyMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Ashvini, A new blog? Very cool! Can’t wait to see it. I look forward to seeing which topic you choose.

      Good point. Once FB search gets going, they may not need Bing any more and may want to launch their own public search site.

      I hope you’re right and Open Graph becomes so successful that we wonder how we survived without it (like we think of Google now).
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Happy 2nd Birthday to The Wonder of Tech!My Profile

  16. James says

    I don’t think Facebook will be able to perform the high end searching but it is just a subset.It will make Facebook much easier and interactions much more simpler and nothing more than this.

  17. Rey says

    Again a new change on this social networking site- ‘Facebook’. However, this change seems for some good because it really makes sense. Now it is almost going to resemble other search sites like Google and Wikipedia. I am not sure if it is going to bring a great and positive change in the history of search sites, but it will surely make a difference.