Facebook’s Quest

Jan 17 2013, 03:10 IST
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SummaryThe social network has narrowed its search for Google’s number one spot with its Graph Search.

While Facebook’s Graph Search may not be an immediate threat to Google, the search giant should nevertheless be concerned about the social network’s latest feature. Facebook has spend eight years trying to convince users to gradually share more and more information on the social network—what movies they like, what bars and restaurants they haunt, which holiday destinations are the best, etc. Facebook is now apparently confident enough about its repository that it has launched a search service based on all the information it has collected. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Graph Search will become Facebook’s third pillar—the other two being Newsfeed, which provides a series of posts on what your friends are up to, and Timeline, a chronological compilation of your own Facebook activity. What should concern Google is that a large chunk of its searches are for services—whether the nearest, or the best—and it is this market that Graph Search stands to steal away from Google. The advantage of Facebook has always been its ready barometer of ‘cool’, and it can now apply this barometer to search results. If, for example, you search for a restaurant in your area on Graph Search, not only will you get the Facebook pages of these restaurants, but also a reading on how many friends liked any one place, which of them liked it, etc. This automatically provides a personal ranking in terms of quality and coolness, as opposed to the relatively impersonal out-of-five-star rankings that websites like Zomato provide.

That said, it’s far from certain that Google is in trouble. It is still overwhelmingly dominant in the search space, and the trust it has engendered among its users—that all answers can be found on Google—will be hard to replace. In addition, Google Search will still remain the place to go for information searches—for example, a user will still search for the Revolt of 1857 on Google, rather than Facebook. But the good news for users is that finally there is some credible competition in the search space.

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