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Andrew Redfern

Facebook Graph Search Goes Public Today

Facebook Graph Search, a new search function on the social networking site which pulls answers from user information, has today gone public, causing some to once again debate the issue of privacy.

With the newly public Facebook Graph Search users search for information and the site uses the habits and likes of friends, and total strangers, to generate a response. This means that Facebook will mine all of the user information available, including the places that a user has visited and even their photos.

The information used has been voluntarily shared by Facebook users, including everything jobs, and home towns to relationship statuses. It has been in beta for more than six months but will now be rolled out to all users with the English language setting after thousands tested the product and provided feedback.

Facebook distinguishes the difference between Graph Search and Google Search as being the fact that web search involves providing links that may hold answers, while graph search directly answers precise queries with information sourced from the site. The intention is that users will tap into this information in a number of ways. If they want to find out about bars, gigs, fitness centres or anything else in a particular area, they can search for places that are liked by their friends.

Of course the search function can also be used for more nefarious purposes as was much publicised when a Tumblr page highlighting the 'actual' uses of the beta version of Graph Search published a number of more controversial queries and their results. Facebook is working hard for a fix of any privacy issues, but the biggest privacy issue could simply be uploading personal information to Facebook in the first place.

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