Facebook’s really big news: All search, all the time

Facebook’s Graph Search isn’t just aiming to hit Google where it hurts; the social media giant also wants to take down LinkedIn, Yelp, and Netflix.

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So today was the big day, the first major Facebook announcement in nearly two years. The press conference is just wrapping up as I type this. And what did Zuckerberg & Co reveal?

A new smartphone? A mobile advertising strategy? An apology to the thousands of shareholders who took a bath on the IPO while Facebook insiders cashed out to the tune of $775 million?

Nope. Today, Mark Zuckerberg talked about search. More specifically, “Graph Search,” a way of surfacing information from your network of friends that until now has been largely inaccessible.

Starting someday soon, Graph Search will allow you to search for all of your friends who, say, live in Geneva, Switzerland, and like to yodel. Or friends of Armenian descent who attended the University of Phoenix and enjoy bratwurst and spelunking. Or friends of friends who used to have vibrant productive lives in the high tech industry but now spend all of their time noodling around on social networks clicking the Like button.

Source: Facebook

OK, I made that last one up. But you get the point. All of your Facebook activity, which has been dutifully recorded and squirrelled away on massive hard drives in cavernous data centers, will soon be available to your friends by filling out a few boxes on a search form.

With Graph Search, Facebook isn’t just trying to take on Google and its (frankly lame) social search features. It’s also trying to take on LinkedIn; you can search for people by job skill or employer, for example. It’s tackling Yelp; you can see which Armenian restaurants in San Francisco your friends liked. Facebook is even taking on Netflix, making recommendations for videos you might like based on what your friends have watched. So far Facebook has only dipped its toes in the video-on-demand world, but that could easily change.

[Update: As the always-radiant Sarah A. Downey of Abine also points out, Graph Search's ability to hook you up with people who have similar Likes could also provide a strong kick in the teeth to dating sites like Match.com and OkCupid.]

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