Facebook Graph Search is a semantic search engine that was introduced by Facebook in March 2013. It is designed to give answers to user natural language queries rather than a list of links. The Graph Search feature combines the big data acquired from its over one billion users and external data into a search engine providing user-specific search results.
Graph Search operates by use of a search algorithm similar to traditional search engines such as Google. However, the search feature is distinguished as a semantic search engine, searching based on intended meaning. Rather than returning results based on matching keywords, the search engine is designed to match phrases, as well as objects on the site.
Search results are based on both the content of the user and their friends’ profiles and the relationships between the user and their friends. Results are based on the friends and interests expressed on Facebook, and also shaped by users’ privacy settings. In addition to being restricted from seeing some content, users may be able to view relevant content made publicly available by users that are not listed as friends.
Entries into the search bar are auto-completed as users type, with Facebook suggesting friends and second degree connections, Facebook pages, automatically-generated topics, and finally Web searches for anything Facebook is not yet able to search for.
The operation of the search feature depends on user involvement. The feature is intended to promote users to add more friends, more quickly. In doing so, it can provide updating, more data-rich results and stimulate use of the feature.
Microsoft has been partnered with Facebook to provide search results since 2008. Microsoft Live Search came to be known as Bing following the initiation of the partnership. In 2010, Facebook and Bing partnered to offer socially-oriented search results: ‘People Search’ and ‘Liked by your Facebook Friends’ information appeared in results within Facebook and on Bing.com.
In May 2012, Bing launched a social sidebar feature which displayed Facebook content alongside of search results. Promoted on the basis of asking friends for advice, the feature allows users to broadcast queries related to their searches to Facebook friends, and offers recommendations of Facebook friends, as well as experts from other networks who could be capable of offering insight.
The emergence of the Graph Search feature builds on this partnership. Facebook content remains on Bing.com. The focus of Graph Search is internal content, but Bing continues to issue search results of external content. The external search results are based on traditional keyword-match.
The Open Graph feature allows developers to integrate their applications and pages into the Facebook platform, and links Facebook with external sites on the Internet. The feature operates by allowing the addition of metadata to turn websites into graph objects. Actions made using the app are expressed on users’ profile pages.