So I think many of us have now heard about the new Facebook Graph Search, but what is the point of it? Is there even one? Or is it just going to become another social media gimmick that is novel for a while but soon loses its edge?
The weird implications of Graph Search have already been well documented by the Actual Facebook Graph Searches tumblr page, tech commentator Tom Scott showing us the potentially embarrassing results of searches like ‘current employers of people who like racism’ and ‘current Tesco employees who like horses’. I’m sure that this is going to lead to a panicked review of many Facebook users’ likes pages; that page you thought was hilarious back in 2009 is now suddenly not looking quite so ironic!
Other than as a source of entertainment, many are left wondering what impact this may have on digital marketing. Social media has evolved becoming a very useful digital marketing tool; a channel that allows consumers to interact with brands and share company information or products that they like. This natural link building and engagement is great for companies that want to improve their search rankings, but can Graph Search help Facebook set itself apart as a marketing platform?
Google aren’t worried – apparently - but should they be? Facebook seems to think that it will be a great boost for small businesses hoping to get their pages discovered, with users being able to search for things in their local area and eventually on the move with mobile Graph Search. If Facebook can prove that it can produce targeted results that will make users switch from using Google, it could potentially make small inroads. But Facebook has to be very careful that it doesn’t alienate users by bombarding them with ads.
Business potential aside, does Graph Search pose real concerns about privacy? Obviously Tony Scott’s tumblr covers up names and details, but anyone actually making these searches will have access to names, addresses, friends and family, depending on how much users have shared with Facebook. This could be a serious issue, especially if people were to search ‘Islamic men who are interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran’, as Scott’s tumblr shows.
But if you want to use Facebook Graph Search for perfectly innocent purposes, finding out who amongst your friends likes One Direction for example, it is a really powerful tool. Whether you fancy celebrating your love of the teenage popstars, or you think it’d be best you were no longer friends with them. After all, you might appear as someone who ‘has friends who like One Direction’. I think I just realised I have some Facebook culling to do....