Facebook this morning announced "Graph Search," a way to search all of Facebook's content for queries tailored to your profile. CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the search by saying, "Graph Search is meant to answer very specific questions like 'Who are my friends in San Francisco?'" In a video released by Facebook just after the announcement, project lead Lars Rasmussen (formerly of Google Maps / Waves fame) related a story about needing a dentist in a town he'd just moved to, and being able to search through which dentists his friends used for a tailored result. Worry not, privacy protectors: we're told Graph Search is "privacy aware;" Facebook's even dedicated 10 percent of its computing power just to the goal of ensuring privacy. And no, none of your privacy settings will automatically change as a result of signing up or using Graph Search.
It's being touted as a return to Facebook's roots, when the company's main goal was forging connections between people (rather than, say, a gaming portal, or a means for companies to advertise). Graph Search is essentially a relaunch of Facebook's internal search engine, allowing its already existing users to forge new relationships with folks they may not otherwise meet, and to find content that's hyper-specific. The beta -- albeit in a limited, English-only capacity -- kicks off today. During that period only a "subset of content" is available through search, with four primary areas of focus: people, photos, places, and interests. Facebooks says Graph Search will expand, "over the coming months," with additions like searchable wall posts and song listens (only if your privacy settings allow those things to be searchable, that is).
You can head right here to get whitelisted for the beta, which is apparently rolling out "very slowly." Or you could head past the break right now for the full PR from Facebook and a walkthrough video, as well as a slew of updates from our liveblog.
Update: Facebook "one more thing'd" us during its event, saying that Graph Search will also pull in Bing search results. In your face(book), Google!
Update 2: In a Q&A followup with Zuckerberg, he said the beta rollout today will be, "Hundreds, maybe thousands." As for how quickly it'll ramp up after that, he's less sure. "We don't know how quickly it'll be rolled out after that, as it depends upon how the beta testing goes. The better it goes, the faster it'll go," he told attendees. Rasmussen said that search queries will show up in your Activity Log, but (thankfully) won't affect adverts.
Update 3: Zuckerberg also explained Graph Search's employment of Microsoft's Bing engine over Google search. "We would love to work with Google. We just wanted to incorporate search, and as long as the companies are willing to honor the privacy of folks sharing content on Facebook, we'll work with them. We just haven't gotten it worked out with Google yet." Sounds like Google search is in the cards as well, then. He further detailed the issues in a followup. "The main thing is that when people share something on Facebook, we want to give them the ability to broadcast things, but also retract them later, and have them be removed immediately. Microsoft was more willing to do things specific to Facebook," he said.
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