January 16, 2013, 8:30 AM —
Yesterday Facebook announced "Graph Search," a way to search through what your Facebook friends are up to. Today I'm looking for some feedback from my readers concerning this announcement because I'm seeing a lot of excitement about it, and I'm just not getting it.
The idea, as I understand it (I'm not in the beta — if you're not either and would like to be, you can get on the waiting list now), Graph Search lets you make very targeted queries of content that your friends have shared. Graph Search is "privacy-aware" so if you can't see it via normal navigation through Facebook, it won't get returned as a result.
An example they gave was of someone who just moved to San Francisco needs a dentist, so he uses Graph Search to find "Dentists in San Francisco" and that search would return a list of dentists, along with their contact info, that his friends in San Francisco have Liked.
That sounds great assuming all your Facebook friends are "Like" zealots. Mine aren't, as far as I can tell, and neither am I. It would never even occur to me to go find my dentist on Facebook and Like him. The whole concept of Graph Search seems so focused as to be not very useful. Another example shows the search: "friends who work at my company and like to ski." Is this a thing, being Facebook friends with everyone in your company?
Then I read that shares of Yelp dropped 8% right after the announcement (it rebounded some by close of day). I guess Wall Street thinks we're more comfortable counting the Likes of friends than we are reading reviews? I'm in danger of slipping into an anti-Facebook screed here, but in general I find the concept of Likes flawed. If 10 of your friends get a 10% off coupon for giving their dentist a Like they'll probably do it. Those 10 Likes don't reflect the number of friends who may have visited this dentist, had a horrible experience and never went back. Without an UnLike button (and without systems to prevent a company from essentially buying Likes via promotions), Likes are fairly pointless.
But listen, I'm the first to admit I don't use Facebook much and don't have many friends who do either. Most of my Facebook 'friends' are people I grew up with back in my home town and I haven't talked to them in decades. I suspect that people who are more heavily invested in Facebook will get more value from Graph Search.
So I'd love to hear from readers who are hardcore Facebook users and to hear what it is about Graph Search that has them excited. How do you see it enriching your Facebook experience? Please use the comment form below!
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