Facebook CEO hypes 'Graph Search,' notes privacy worry
MENLO PARK, Calif. — In a potential challenge to much larger rival Google Inc., Facebook Inc. said Tuesday that it's introducing new search tools that will let its 1 billion users scour the social network for information about people, photos, places and other interests.
The new “Graph Search” will show only information that has been posted publicly or shared with the person who is doing the search, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who acknowledged privacy concerns while calling the new service “one of the coolest things we've done in a while.”
While the new “Graph Search” function is limited to searching within the social network, it goes beyond Facebook's earlier search tools to let people query the network for things they are interested in — such as photos of a certain topic, or photos taken in a certain year, a list of friends who like “Game of Thrones,” or a list of restaurants that are liked by friends who moved to San Francisco from India.
It will rank the results — for example, Zuckerberg said the tool will show photos in the order of how interesting they are, as determined by the number of “likes” and comments they have previously received. The rankings take into consideration how close the searcher is to other people on Facebook, based on how often they interact on the network.
Zuckerberg said the service was developed for users and does not yet have a business model for earning money. But in a possible hint at commercial applications, a Facebook engineer demonstrated how the service could be used by a job recruiter to search for NASA employees who live in a certain area.
Facebook announced a closer partnership with Microsoft Corp.'s Bing search engine, which will provide search results from the Web to augment searches on Facebook. Microsoft's Bing has struggled to gain traction against Google's search engine, which provides billions of dollars in advertising revenue for Google.
Zuckerberg said several times that he doesn't expect people to use Facebook as a tool to search the Web, but he acknowledged that could change over time.
The new search tool is being introduced gradually; Zuckerberg stressed that it's in “beta” mode and said it will initially be offered only to a few hundred users.
It won't be available on the company's mobile apps and will not be tied into the system that lets Facebook users “like” other Web pages and services outside Facebook's network. While the company hopes to add more features in time, Zuckerberg said Graph Search is currently focused on four areas: people, places, photos and interests.
Zuckerberg also stressed that the company is sensitive to privacy concerns. Facebook has angered users in the past by introducing new services that seemed to expose personal information in ways that users didn't expect. Zuckerberg said that's why the company last month added new tools to help users check the status of the photos and other content they have posted, so they can tell which items are available for public view and change the settings if they wish.
“We think this is an important question, and we take this very seriously,” said Zuckerberg, who spoke in a room packed with reporters and tech bloggers, while dressed in his signature hooded sweatshirt and jeans.
Facebook officials, however, added that the new search service makes it all the more important for users to check their privacy settings. Zuckerberg said Facebook has built in controls so if someone searches for, say, photos of Facebook employees, the results will only include publicly shared photos from people who have listed their employer information as public.
Speculation about Tuesday's announcement had surged in the tech world over recent days. While some thought the company might be working on its own smartphone, several analysts said a move into the search business was a logical next step for Facebook.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Consol Energy cutting retiree health benefits, phasing out pension
- Oil, gas industry boom leads to expansion of laws in Pennsylvania
- Stocks slammed as manufacturing slows in U.S., abroad
- LNG exports get federal approval from Dominion’s Cove Point terminal
- Hospitals, doctors in Pa. received $32M in 5 months from drug, medical device companies
- Google Pittsburgh instrumental in fight against hackers, co-directors say
- EPA says greenhouse gas releases from wells, pipelines decline
- Retirement planning is about more than just money
- Cranberry-based Prodigo Solutions: Hospitals can reduce high supply costs
- Trib 30 index of Pittsburgh-area stocks falls in September
- Education spending helps to widen wealth gap