Facebook’s Graph Search is here. What is it?


Facebook recently announced the latest addition to its social network, the social graph search engine.  When introducing it on Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg called it “the third pillar of the Facebook Ecosystem”.

What is Graph Search?

According to Facebook, the social graph is the name given to the collective pool of information shared between friends that are connected via the site, including things such as photos, status updates, and location data as well as the things they have liked.


Graph Search allows users to make search of content shared by their friends and other people on Facebook.  It is aiming for the areas neglected by current players (Google, Bing, and LinkedIn) in the search game; Social Search.

Zuckerberg described it as a new way to search between Facebook’s massive amount of photos, people, and connections. Facebook digs into the large database of personal data and photos that it has from a billion people. It mines 240 billion photos and a trillion connections between its users.

Possible searches a user could make

With the new feature users will be able to find people who share similar interests e.g. If one wants to start a boozers club or find a beer buddy? Explore the world through photos, by searching a phrase like the following:

  • photos my friends took in Harare
  • Pictures of my friends and me
  • Males and Females nearby that are 30 years old
  • Photos taken in 2010 that I liked
  • Music that my friends and I like
  • People that like Techzim
  • Which of my friends like Tuku

Privacy Concerns

Facebook claims that with Graph Search, you can look up anything shared with you on Facebook, and others can find stuff you’ve shared with them, including content set to Public. That means different people see different results.

Others beg to differ, they see it as further invasion of our private space and will lead people to stalk exes, and search for things such as “vulnerable women near me who’ve been dumped in the last few weeks” and “pictures of my friends’ female friends in bikinis”.

A tad extreme I know but the possibility is there.

Security Concerns

Some experts have expressed reservations that the new search mechanism is a gold mine for phishing attacks.  Attackers could use the Facebook Graph Search to narrow down specific targets, and customize emails or Facebook messages using compelling details about their lives, their friends, the things that interest them and the places they’ve visited.

The new tool takes data that was already out there and makes it easier for attackers to collect similar targets for a more customized attack.

When will you get it?

Graph search launched as a beta test, but roll out will be slow. It still isn’t public, and you’ll need to sign up for the wait list here to get early access.

Coincidentally, another relic of the social networking world MySpace relaunched to the public on the same day, but the event was over shadowed by Facebook’s event.

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