Mark Zuckerberg sees Graph Search as being a better way to sift through your Facebook connections.
For the past week, Facebook's been teasing a January 15 (today!) press event inviting the media to "come and see what we're building." The teaser inevitably led some to speculate the unveiling of the long-rumored Facebook Phone, but apparently Zuckerberg's tucking that little nugget away for another day. So, what was the announcement for? A brand new search engine, though not one that's globally focused like Google or Bing.
Facebook's new Graph Search feature leverages the world's largest social networking site's assets of more than a billion people, over 240 billion photos, and more than a trillion connections, all of which is now searchable on a more personal level.
"When Facebook first launched, the main way most people used the site was to browse around, learn about people and make new connections. Graph Search takes us back to our roots and allows people to use the graph to make new connections," Facebook explains.
It's more than searching for people or activities; it's a combination of both. For example, you could type, "My friends who work at my company and play basketball" or look up "Photos of friends taken before 1995," to give just two examples. How is this different from web search?
"Graph Search and web search are very different. Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: 'hip hop') and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. 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 that's been shared on Facebook. We believe they have very different uses," Facebook added.
There are four main areas Graph Search focuses: People, Photos, Places, and Interests. That makes it a bit limited in scope, though relevant to what Facebook's trying to do here.
Graph Search goes into beta today. If you want to try it for yourself, you can jot your name down on the waiting list.