Say hello to Facebook's Graph Search. At the most basic level, it's a sophisticated search engine that lets you more easily navigate the social network's untapped troves of data to find the answers you're looking for.
It works kind of like Google, except instead of combing the vast expanse of the internet, you're searching within Facebook's trillions — yes, trillions — of connections. It scours everything in the Facebook universe, including people, places, images, "likes," and so on. You'll also be able to use filters to better refine your search.
Soon, at the top of every page, you'll see a new blue search bar. Here are a few examples of searches you'll be able to try:
1. "My friends who live in Palo Alto who like Game of Thrones"
To find people to invite to your weekend marathon.
2. "Friends of friends who went to the University of California, Irvine named Chris"
Find that handsome funny dude you talked to at last night's party. Potentially date him.
3. "Sushi restaurants in Palo Alto my friends have liked"
Find a sushi place your pals (who are all cheapskates) approve of.
4. "Photos of my friends before 1990"
Find pictures of you and your cousins for #ThrowbackThursday.
5. "Photos of the Eiffel Tower"
How many of your friends took jumping pictures?
6. "Photos I've liked"
Maybe you're the type who needs to tone it down on the puppy "likes."
7. "Restaurants in New York liked by chefs"
Watch out, Yelp.
8. "Bars in Dublin liked by people who live in Dublin"
Avoid tourist traps.
9. "Friends of friends who worked at Facebook"
A big score for job recruiters.
10. "Bands liked by people who like Mitt Romney"
Fun fact: Johnny Cash and Metallica were the top two in Facebook's example.
11. "Friends who like traveling"
In case you need a travel buddy.
Like Google, whatever you're typing auto-completes in real-time. As the examples above suggest, the new search function digests natural language to (hopefully) spit out meaningful answers.
"It's a completely new way for people to find information on Facebook," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook acknowledges that there will inevitably be privacy concerns. "We've built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook," says the social network in a press release. "It makes finding new things easier, but you can only see what you could already view somewhere else on Facebook."
Graph Search is certainly a powerful tool. Not only does it leverage the power of recommendations from humans you actually know (the value behind this can't be stressed enough), but it levels the cannons at a number of Facebook's competitors: Google (duh), Yelp (finding restaurants to try), LinkedIn (for recruiters), Yahoo's Flickr (photos), dating websites, and more.
Watch a video of how Graph Search works here, then join the waiting list for the limited beta program at the bottom if you're up for it. Facebook says rollout for Graph Search will be slow, "over the next few weeks and months." Expect a walkthrough from us when we get our hands on it.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- Republicans love this new health care plan. Too bad it's basically a tax cut for the rich.
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 8 tricks to surviving the holidays without gaining weight or being grouchy
- Adam Sandler's 'Thanksgiving Song': Explaining the 22-year-old tune's pop-culture references
- 17 old proverbs we should use more often
- Don't blame Chuck Hagel: Obama's foreign policy has been a disaster from end to end
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week