We’ve all been up in arms anticipating search from Facebook. We’ve read about it, researched it, even written about it in the past. Naturally when Zuckerberg made the big announcement this week we were all ears. The big reveal, however, left me less than enthused. There will be a lot of pros and cons associated with the launch, a perilously slow roll out period, and the inevitable first edition bugs to work out.
I’m not discounting the search tool from the outset, but there are a few things to consider before we all jump on the good news bandwagon.
1. Facebook Has Had The Data All Along
First, my biggest issue with Graph Search is that Facebook has had all of this data for years. I’m not diminishing the task of organizing millions of connections, there’s no way I could personally do it. The question is: why now? Why has the search feature been left alone for years without significant improvement? I won’t even touch on the fact that web searches through Facebook default to Bing.
2. Search Remains Limited
The information you can search is limited to the information that users choose to share with the social network. The search assumes that users within a search actively Like pages for businesses, restaurants, music, sports teams, etc. and that these likes are true and legitimate reflections of that user’s taste.
3. That Whole “Privacy” Issue…
Facebook maintains that the new search feature will not affect users’ privacy. To accomplish this goal essentially means that the information you find in Graph Search will all be information you could already see elsewhere. This isn’t new information, just a new way of categorizing the data.
Despite all of the negatives, I think there is potential for Graph Search to take off. It could change the way we search and review businesses. Natural language could change the way we conduct searches everywhere. All of these great, enormous alterations to the way we find information have potential- if people actually use it.
Facebook may find that the search is a quickly passing fad or that it is used in ways the social network does not intend (i.e. stalking) and general applications are not as popular.
Businesses may panic and establish a presence on Facebook. Then again, they may not. Until it becomes widely available and moderately functional there is no real way to know if Graph Search will be the game changer Facebook is imagining.