Facebook is jumping into the search engine game with a new tool that lets its 1 billion users make contextual searches using their social connections.
Graph Search, which is currently in beta, was announced this morning at a press conference held in the States.
Facebook says Graph Search focuses on filtering search queries and bringing better results by using the plethora of information the social network has on its users. Google has similar functionality for Google+ users to receive tailored search results depending on what is in their circles, but not on the same scale as what Facebook has revealed today.
Using common language phrases, Graph Search users can look for specific results involving their friends, locations, photos, and interests.
For instance you can search for "Friends who like cycling", and if the results are too wide it can be narrowed by changing it to "Friends who like cycling in Auckland", with the search page dynamically changing to reflect the new criteria.
Businesses, groups, and pages can be searched for the same way.
Normal web searches will be available through Graph Search, handled by Microsoft's Bing search engine.
Following years of public criticism of Facebook's privacy policies, the social network is quick to say that Graph Search is built with privacy in mind. Results will only show publicly available information, skipping information marked as private. You will only see what you could already find by looking elsewhere on Facebook, says the network.
Currently only a limited subset of Facebook information is available for search on the graph, but Facebook will work on posts and Open Graph actions (for instance Spotify listens or game interactions) in the coming months.
It's likely as the search offerrings expand, Facebook will provide brands with options to advertise against results in a similar way they do on Google.
The graph will start rolling out to Facebook users following the beta period, you can sign up to the beta program wait list here.