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Facebook Graph Search & How to use it

Fadiyah Sameh
Fadiyah Sameh
Posted: 2016-07-14

In January 2013, Facebook first invited selected users to test its new search tool, which it named Facebook Graph Search. This search tool was supposed to be a much powerful way of searching for relevant information from within your social group, which included family, friends and friends of friends. After the initial testing, the search tool was open to people who were interested in testing out this new improved search. If you were interested, you had to apply to Facebook to be included. Later in the year, the Beta version of graph search was rolled out for desktop version of Facebook, but only in US English language. So if you are using Facebook on your laptop or your desktop, and using it in US English, you could in essence be using the graph search. Graph Search utilizes an algorithm that is similar to Google’s algorithm while searching. It differs in its operation by searching for matching phrases and also objects, rather than keywords as used by Google algorithm. In essence, it searches the site for the entire phrase you have entered in your query rather than just a keyword, to return you the results. The results that you get for your query are based upon the information entered by users of Facebook, and the relation between you, your friends and your social group. So any information that you have on your Facebook is in essence available to anyone who is querying for it. Suppose that you want to find friends or people in your area who are interested in scuba diving. You need to put in a query “people who like scuba diving in my city”, the graph search will provide a result after analyzing millions of user records of “people who like scuba diving in my city”. In the result of this search you will see the profiles of the people who it thinks are a match to your query. If you wish to refine your search, then there are certain parameters that you can set to refine your search based on those parameters. Suppose you got a search result that showed all the people who likes scuba diving. You can then go to the refine search sidebar and set the parameter to reflect only male scuba divers who drink beer and are between the age of 30 and 40. The search will reflect your new parameters and give you a result of people who match your query. You can extend this search to include, photos, friends and places of the people the search result turns up for your query. The whole idea behind this is to expand your social presence on Facebook exponentially and quickly, which would return more data rich information for your query. You must be wondering the kind of information you can search for using the Graph Search. Anything that you or any other user puts into their Facebook account is searchable. People, places, objects, pages, interests, relationships, likes and dislikes, all are searchable. So, all the information that you have in your profile is available to anyone with the Graph search Tool. This has raised privacy concerns by some users. This is more so because one can go directly to a post, picture or page from the search query. Your posts from months or even years ago could be available for people to look up and see. Facebook says that your privacy settings can be used to control what you want searched and by whom. So if you have set the privacy of a certain post to “only me” then, in theory, the search engine will not display the contents of the post to anyone else. You should review your privacy settings and redefine the things that you want to be available to everyone and what you would like to be restricted from being viewed by others. This is no mean task, as you may have to go back to hundred of posts and reset their privacy. The mobile version of Graph Search still hasn’t been released. So it is available only on desktops and laptops. Once you have the graph search, you cannot go back to the old search tool. So go have some fun with this new search of Facebook.  

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