Facebook held a major press event today, but kept the media guessing about what it would be unveiling. The answer was what Mark Zuckerberg described as the "third pillar" of Facebook: Graph Search. Basically, the idea is to allow people to search for people, places, and things to do through their networks, the official announcement explains. For example, if you were trying to set up a Game of Thrones viewing party, you might search for "friends in [your town] who like Game of Thrones." Going out? Search "movies my friends like." Dating? Search "friends of friends in [your town] who are single."
The system will be "privacy aware," Zuckerberg said, so "you can only search for content that has been shared with you." It will also integrate Bing results, broadening the kind of information it can find—though at one point Zuckerberg added that he "would love to work with Google." The system is being rolled out as a limited beta release starting today. Right now, Zuckerberg says there are no plans to monetize the feature, though he said it "could potentially be a business over time."
Some instant reactions:
- Farhad Manjoo: "This is the most natural-language search I've ever seen. It's a completely different paradigm from searching Google. Phrases, not keywords."
- Mike Isaac: "Google built web search first, then tried to slap Google+ on top of it for personalization. Facebook taking the backwards approach." (See more from Isaac here.)
- Henry Blodget: "I don't see how Facebook cashes in with this thing. Search could coin it for them. This, as executed, is just another feature."
- The stock market: Shortly after the rollout, Facebook's stock was down 2%, according to the Wall Street Journal.