Early last year, Facebook released what it called Facebook Graph Search, which didn’t necessarily turn the social network into a search engine but it gave the site search engine capabilities. The aim of the company was to index its members, the links between members, and even more ambitiously, the content and links between content. While Mark Zuckerberg’s company now handles more than 1 billion searches a day, he has said that the process of creating a seamless search experience is a “multi-year voyage”.
Traditionally, people used Facebook to connect with friends, but over time, the scope of the site has increased. The use of apps and the playing of games has become commonplace, while the sharing of text, video, and audio content is also rife. Much of the content is shared, some of it is liked, and a few pieces go viral once they are re-shared.
Perhaps one of the most numerically challenging tasks for this venture, however, is the indexing of links between people. With more than a billion members, there are said to be trillions of connections and Facebook aims to index every single one in a meaningful manner. The aim of Graph Search is to enable people to essentially search for information from their social networks and extended networks, making search a much more personal process.
The personalised nature of Graph Search will enable users to be able to find friends that live in a certain area, like a certain activity, or that recommend a particular place to go. It will also be useful as a means of extending one’s network, but Zuckerberg has said that it is far from the completed item yet. In fact, many observers would argue that it is worse, at the moment, than it has been for some time now.
During a conference call following the announcement of Facebook’s second quarterly financial results, Zuckerberg said that the Graph Search functionality that he wants is several years away from happening, and that creating it should be considered a multi-year voyage.