Facebook has its sleeves rolled up and it’s off to work on something new. Don’t worry though; this change won’t come in the form of yet another visual redesign of the site. It’s something much more subtle, and with luck much more significant. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, hopes that this new project will one day even compete with Google.
The new project is called graph search. It “is designed to take a precise query and return to you the answer, not links to other places where you might get the answer,” according to Zuckerberg. Facebook hopes that graph search will be able to aggregate all the information that the community compiles on local results, such as restaurants, and do recommend a location based on user content.
The concept is similar in style to Yelp, which allows users to rate local businesses and to leave reviews. However, Yelp’s declining userbase allows Facebook to make an attempt to establish their niche in this service. Facebook’s sheer volume of information on their users and their search algorithms are already huge steps in place toward providing this option, though it will not be fully ready for a few years.
The tool will be rolling out to a limited number of people at first before becoming more widely available, a strategy which Facebook has implemented consistently. Once the focus testing has completed, it will become available for all users. It’s already been an internal project for more than a year.
So what does this mean for you? Well for one, it doesn’t mean that you need to review your security settings. Almost everything will be staying the same…for now. No new information will be available to anyone else. The only real change here is that your photos are a little less private. However, it’s only if someone uploads a picture of you that you don’t want up. It’s a little harder to get rid of it with graph search, but you still have the option to untag yourself or ask the uploader to remove it. Facebook is really trying to stay on their users’ good side following their numerous security scandals.
As for the future though, it means that we could see Facebook start to branch out into more unique services. Facebook and Google have always had a certain level of rivalry, but as time goes on that rivalry could get more intense as they start to impose on the same market. While it’s speculation at the moment, Facebook will probably sell your data to advertisers as time goes on. It’s simply how they make money. None of it will be connected specifically to you as a person, but it will be out there. Remember the maxim: if you’re not paying for it; you’re the product.