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Coffee Talk #559: Facebook Graph Search and You

Posted on January 17th, by raymond padilla in Coffee Talk, Geek Stuff, Mobile Tech. 8 comments

Coffee Talk #559: Facebook Graph Search and You

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Manti Te’o's fake girlfriend, the glorious news of Derek Jeter being cleared for baseball activities, or the debut of American Idol’s new judges, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Earlier this week, Facebook made a ton of noise with its “Graph Search” product. Its socialized version of search has the potential to cut into numerous Internet businesses. Under perfect conditions, Facebook Graph Search will take users away from Google, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Yelp, and more. Using a combination of socialized results, natural language queries, and Bing (for backup purposes), Graph Search is one of the most ambitious search initiatives released in years. My question for you today is this: Is Graph Search something you’re interested in?

I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on this because I’m not a typical Facebook user. The majority of people I’m “friends” with on Facebook aren’t friends in the traditional sense of the word. The minority of my contacts are people I know on a purely social level. The rest of them are a mix of game developers, PR flacks, readers, and viewers. While I certainly like most of them, it’s not an ideal mix to fuel contextual search results. Since most of you use Facebook in a more traditional way, I’d love to hear if you think Graph Search is something you’d use.

Then there’s the effectiveness of the whole thing. Like most people, I use Google for Internet searches. While there are many things about it that I don’t like, it’s been my default for years because I don’t know of anything better. While I loved it at first, the results have been getting progressively worse, thanks to SEO tricksters. Google understands that applying a social layer to search results is important, which was the whole point of its Google+ product. In many ways, Facebook and Google are trying to achieve the same goal, but are traveling in different directions to get there. Google is adding social elements to search, while Facebook is adding search to its social platform. The bottom line, of course, is meaningful results. Which company do you think will provide more meaningful social-powered search-results?

At a glance, I think that Google will ultimately win this fight. It’s not because it had a head start or because it has been the master of search for years. What surprised me with Facebook’s announcement was that mobile seemed to be an afterthought. That’s been a (frustrating) trend with Facebook. Mobile Internet use is huge and getting bigger every day. Right now, Facebook kind of sucks at mobile. Google is expontentially better at it and will use information extracted from mobile use to fuel search results. While mobile will certainly be (have to be?) a big part of Graph Search in the future, it should have been a huge part of the initiative from the start.

While I love that Facebook is attempting to make search better and different, I’m not convinced it will deliver the results (*snicker*). What are your thoughts on Graph Search? Would you use it and do you think it will be effective? Shout it out in the comments section (please!).

  • N8R

    I feel sorry for the people who end up finding out what pr0n sites their grandparents like.

    “Honey, I noticed on Facebook you did a Graph Search for Ashley Madison… care to explain?”

    • bsukenyan

      “Just looking up names that go together for our future daughters, dear.”

  • 1ceman

    Wouldn’t this make stalking people easier? Especially if you have a mutual friend with your ex-girlfriend or something?


  • HowingtonB

    As far as mobile I’ll be interested to see how graph search works if it will yield real time results. Such as: is Manti Te’o with his girlfriend at Notre Dame campus?

    Potentially the public tracking issue of it is why mobile wasn’t hocked. If you opt out of that but a companion still tags you it negates your opt out. I could see this being a substantially large stalking tool for the younger crowd.

    Personally I wouldn’t use this. I don’t care about anyone enough to get even more details than is otherwise get from their posts or email.

    • RPadTV

      You already have the ability to not let friends tag you, so I don’t think that’s the issue. Facebook is just bad at mobile in general, though it’s slowly improving.

      • HowingtonB

        I’d wager that will disappear soon. They are not letting users opt out of search results now according to Ars.

        • RPadTV

          I would wager against you! That would piss off a vocal minority and tech writers would amplify the issue.

          • HowingtonB

            They claim single digit percentage of opt out. Which would be what…10 million users? I don’t think that number is enough to skew graph results so I think FB is full of shit.