Facebook's Search Tool Has Real Promise ...

... assuming people 'like' and share more, say reviewers

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 15, 2013 6:24 PM CST

(Newser) – Facebook unveiled its new search tool today even as stats showed that the number of Americans using the site fell by 1.4 million in December, reports MarketWatch. A blip, or did the US hit a saturation point? Maybe it's those new ads and fees? Time will tell, but it's a safe bet that Mark Zuckerberg hopes his new "Graph Search"—lots of reviewers hate the abstract name—will reverse the trend by embedding Facebook further into our lives. The tech press generally seems intrigued, with many taking a wait-and-see approach in reviews.

Andrew Leonard at Salon says it "looks like a big deal," with the potential to change the business models of online dating, job searches, and the like. Yelp, Craigslist, and, of course, Google, are surely taking notice. Here's his example of a potential use:

  • "It’s Saturday night in the not too distant future. You walk into a crowded bar. At first glance, you don’t recognize anyone, so you pull out your phone and log into your Facebook app. You tap in a query: Show me the single women (or men) who are in this bar, adore Mozart, Macklemore and the TV show Community and are part of the network defined as 'friends of my Facebook friends.' ... If you’re lucky, Facebook spits back a few profile pics at you, and you’re suddenly ready to buy someone a drink who is already pre-approved for your personal checklist." Full post here.
Of course, none of this works unless you and your friends, and their friends, are diligent "likers." Sure, you can theoretically find a dentist recommended by this circle, but how many people "like" their dentist right now? "Consider me," writes Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand. "Not only have I not liked my electrician, my plumber, my dentist, my doctor or my tax person on Facebook but I don’t even know if they have Facebook pages. I have nothing to offer to my Facebook friends in this regard." Facebook understands the challenge, he adds, "but it’s hoping the promise of what search can provide will help encourage people to build the connections they may lack now." Full post here.

Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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