Facebook debuted its own, brand-new version of search today at the press event held in Menlo Park, calling its new product “Graph Search,” and explaining that it aims to let Facebook users search through their photos and content to find answers rather than links.
The launch, which Om Malik covered from Menlo Park through our live blog, is a direct dig at Google by taking advantage of all of the personal content and data Facebook has amassed to create a more individualized version of search. (As Om noted, it’s also remarkably similar to Path’s recent search product, called Path Moments, in that it takes a more thematic approach to information users are searching for focused on people, events, or photos.)
The company explained the thinking behind Graph Search in a full press release on its website Tuesday, including how it plans to incorporate aspects of privacy into the product.
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.
Another big difference from web search is that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience, and most content isn’t public. We’ve built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook. It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.