The impact of Facebook’s new Graph Search feature will likely take some time to appreciate, not least because it is currently in “very limited beta”.
The initial launch is restricted to just four areas – people, places, photos and interests – but already it feels like the feature is intended to be all things to all people.
Indeed, the disparate suggestions from the social network on how Graph Search could be used, ranging from dating to music suggestions to restaurant advice, give an indication of the scale of Facebook’s plans, if not users’ actual desire to search their friends’ information on such a fine level.
One audience group the company is particularly keen to win over is journalists and it looks at how journalists can use Graph Search in some detail.
Facebook has already tried to get more journalists to use its network, this time its offering sources and material, rather than audience.
This new tool will also make it easier for journalists to discover potential sources and public photos around stories you’re reporting. It will also make it easier to learn about places and interests that are not only tied to friends but also public figures and pages.
As a journalist that sounds interesting, though not necessarily of direct use to my kind of writing. In fact, the one corporate example Facebook has (“say you’re doing a story on a specific company and you’re looking to interview someone who works at the company in their New York office”), would probably be best accomplished via LinkedIn.
But as a user it tells me that it’s time to double-check my Facebook privacy settings, which are not the easiest thing to understand at the best of times.
After all, even if you trust Facebook on privacy, its promise that Graph Search “honours the privacy and audience of each piece of content” can only be as good as the settings its users apply.
24 January 2013, the inevitable update: Facebook’s Graph Search tool causes increasing privacy concerns