This month, Facebook celebrates its 9th birthday! It seems pretty shocking to think how far the social network has come in only nine years. In nine years, Facebook has secured over one BILLION users. Crazy? I know. It seems Facebook has become a fixture in our every day lives. Facebook me. Tag me in that picture. And it has even caused us to ask some questions about our “friends.” Did you see the pictures that Joey posted from his vacation? Did you know that the girl who sat at the table next to me in eighth grade is married to a guy from England? We all are guilty of Facebook “snooping.” I will even admit, I have clicked on friends of friends of friends and forgotten how I arrived at that person’s page in the first place. It’s natural curiosity and it overcomes us once in awhile…
Facebook has always been attacked over privacy issues. Remember when Zuckerberg started sweating and breathing heavy when the “privacy” topic was brought up on an interview with D8 (If not, then this is a must-see video…I’ve never seen someone so nervous…). It seems that as soon as a new feature is unveiled, there is instant backlash. Everyone hates it. Everyone says they are not going to use Facebook anymore. Everyone has this moment of complete madness over something that quite honestly is trivial in our lives. Yet, mostly everyone slowly regains some composure and decides to ultimately not delete their accounts. We learn to understand the new features and then these new features become “awesome” and so ingrained into the site that we cannot remember Facebook without them. Remember when the idea of a ”newsfeed” was introduced? Everyone became instantly freaked out. Yet, can anyone remember Facebook without a newsfeed? Or even more recently the “timeline?” Yes, there are still those users who refuse to upload a “cover photo,” yet they still have a Facebook profile.
Just recently Zuckerberg introduced a new concept called “Graph Search.” Zuckerberg and his coworkers introduced the concept as ”another pillar…a say what you want and get the results…search engine,” which allows users to connect even more and allows users to find people that they should know. When I first heard about this new feature, I shrugged it off as a simple change, but I was completely mistaken. I had the opportunity to request to try the beta version and currently have the graph search implemented on my own Facebook. In the news, there has been much backlash over the privacy concerns of the graph search and I can understand why this is so. Due to this new feature, I can search, “Places Greg has been to in 2006″ or “Friends of Bill that are single and live in Los Angeles” or even “Pictures that Megan commented on in 2007 taken in Barcelona, Spain.” And within a second, my Facebook feeds me the results. Is this good? Well, define “good.” It definitely is a bit rattling that it can be this easy to go back in time and find pictures that a person commented on and it is kind of strange to be able to look at the relationship status of friends of friends. Past privacy settings, however, are not affected and if your privacy settings have been strong since you created your Facebook there should not be a problem. The graph search will stay in line with your privacy settings.
Even so, maybe graph search will not be instantly popular among individuals, but here is where I see the new feature thriving: Businesses. Businesses use social media to reach out to fans and consumers. What better way to find out who to reach out to than with graph search?! For example, let’s say I owned “Pizzas R Us,” a fictional pizza restaurant. My main competitor is Pizza Hut and I am located in Philadelphia. I may try a search: People who like Pizza Hut and live in Philadelphia. Bam. I now know the names of people who I may try to reach out to with coupons and advertisements. Another search: People who live in Philadelphia and like pizza. Bam. I now have a list of names of potential customers. I can even search “Athletes that have been liked by people who like Pizzas R Us,” and choose a spokesperson for my business based on the results. The search possibilities are endless.
So while Facebook Graph Search may be constituted as “creepy” for individuals, it can also be very beneficial to companies.