Facebook has now officially entered the search engine business by publicly announcing its new Facebook Graph Search product. Using natural queries, it will allow anyone to datamine public information from Facebook’s 1 billion users. How does it work? You will be able to ask it questions like:
- What are the most popular Indian restaurants in Montreal with my Indian friends?
- Who went to Mcgill University, graduate in 2000 with a bachelor in mechanical engineering and is friends with XYZ?
You’ll notice that they went to great lengths to make search easier and more natural. Some have said this is simply another tool to stalk Facebook friends and this will likely create some interesting Information Security challenges but the moral of the story is that Facebook is now officially challenging Google’s search dominance.
Google’s business is built on ad revenue and it gets this huge pile of cash because it can target users with pin-point accuracy. Google uses all of its FREE service to collect signals from its users that can then be turned into targetable demographic breakdowns. This is the crown jewels Facebook is trying to steal from Google. Everything Facebook has done so far has been to collect these signals, these unique identifiers that will allow marketers to more accurately target you with relevant advertising.
Remember that Facebook knows who you know, what you like, where you have been and where you are now. They want to tie all of this together to predict where you will be and help advertisers.
If it’s a question of who I trust more, my vote goes to Google. I find that Facebook makes its privacy settings needlessly complicated so that people unknowingly overshare their information. I will likely tackle the privacy implication of Graph Search in a future article but for now, know that this new feature is a very important one that will likely change the fate of Facebook and force Google to continue innovating.
Facebook Graph Search isn't available to most users yet and will be slowly rolled out over the next couple of months (starting with US users).