Facebook Graph Search: first impressions

Good for you, better for Facebook

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Facebook launched a new search thing yesterday. It wasn't a Facebook phone. It wasn't a mobile OS. It was a search thing called Graph Search. What does that even mean, Graph Search? No one calls their Facebook stuff Graph except for people who work at Facebook.

Basically, it's a revamped search tool that lets you find the friendly needle in your social media haystack by looking through all Facebook content that's been shared with you or is public - that includes friends, friends' interests, photos, games, apps and so on.

Terrible name and the fact that it is still basically just search aside, we thought we'd better see what was what. So we've had a good old go on Facebook Graph Search because, well, any excuse to nose through our friends' stuff. Is it a killer Facebook feature? Are you going to wonder how you ever lived without it? Let's find out.

Interfacebook

When Graph Search rolls out to your account, the search bar at the top of your news feed becomes a solid blue box inviting you to search for "people, places and things". If you take that literally and search for "people, places and things", Graph Search doesn't just call you facetious and kick you out of your account (though we deserved it). Instead, it offers some suggestions:

Facebook Graph Search

Like, did you mean "People who like places and my favourite things"? Sure, Facebook. What have you got for me? Well, more than 1,000 people as it turns out, starting with people I'm friends with (nine results) and going on to those I share mutual friends with and then diving into the never-ending pool of people I don't have any connection with.

The drop-down suggestion box is equal parts useful and garment-rendingly frustrating. It's constantly zipping about trying to guess what you're going to ask, and comes up with suggestions that are so completely irrelevant that it annoys me just to see them.

Sometimes it's bang on though, and saves you valuable typing seconds. It's a beta service so you can forgive these little irritations to a point.

Searching is pretty straightforward - you can go into as little or as much detail as you like. You can go with "My friends who like Home Alone" all the way through to "Photos of friends of friends who like Home Alone taken in Spain in 2009".

Facebook Graph Search

In the current iteration of Facebook Graph Search you can't search negatives - so we couldn't find "my friends who like TechRadar and don't work at Future Publishing" or "My friends who don't like bears" (so we could de-friend them).

Apps and places

As well as picking through friends' photos, you can search for restaurants within certain parameters (e.g. Restaurants nearby, which plays quite fast and loose with the definition of nearby) and see which outlets your friends Like to get an idea of whether they're worth a visit.

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook also wants you to use Graph Search to find new games and apps to use on the social network. This is good for Facebook because you'll probably spend more time on the site, not to mention possibly making a few in-app purchases here and there, and recommending the games to your friends, and so on until we're all on Facebook all the time, giving Zuckerberg all our money.

Searching for "Games my friends play" gives you a good starting point, then you can dig down into the hundreds of results using the "Refine this search" filters on the right - things like game type, who likes the game and which of your friends use the game.