Expanding the Facebook experience to what he called its "third pillar," CEO Mark Zuckerberg today announced a friend-optimized new product it calls Graph Search. At a much anticipated event at the social network's new headquarters kept under Apple-style wraps, Zuckerberg said Graph Search, which is still in beta, helps users in "indexing" — essentially, it's a search tool that can help you gain immediate access to and "answers" from things people have shared with you. It's a new way to search for information using Facebook, on Facebook.
Zuckerberg said the key difference between Graph Search and normal web search engines (you know, Google) is that the new service is "designed to show you the answer and not links to answers" — mostly because it can use photos you've actually liked in your life rather than vague terms in an image search about someone else's. For example, say you want to find pictures of friends from a certain event, or discover which movies your friends like; that's when you would use Graph Search. It's even useful for meeting new people with friend of friend searches. The advanced Facebook search algorithm ranks results based on those people you care about most, those photos with the most engagement (like likes and comments), and places that get the most "likes," with the aim being, you know, results you actually want to see.
Graph Search will have a very slow roll out — head over here to get on the wait list and see some more of this demo:
So when, exactly, would this be useful? Well, Facebook sees this as a way to meet new people in real life. Zuckerberg offered the suggestion of inviting people to a Game of Thrones viewing: You might then search "My friends who live in Palo Alto who like Game of Thrones." Zuckerberg's demo also suggests that it could work as a potential dating tool, pulling up single men in an area with certain "like" preferences. (Do people have enough guts to date like that?) Or Graph Search can spit out restaurant recommendations with queries like: "Restaurants in San Francisco liked by Culinary Institute of America graduates," explains Facebook. "You see some of the top restaurants in San Francisco across all price ranges." Though not available now — the product is still in beta — the future might of Graph Search might include music searches and other actions available on the open graph.
The news didn't have Facebook's investors too excited right away. During the announcement the company stock went down a couple percentage points. Google shareholders don't seem to be worried, either, with the search engine's stock seeing a little spike during the announcement.
Original Post: It's time to see what Facebook is building. We've broken down all the speculation, and we'll be updating this post as information comes in, but despite all of Mark Zuckerberg's denials, it appears that some sort of Facebook mobile unveil may be imminent. Reporters are currently gathered at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and AllThingsD's Mike Isaac just arrived at the event and sees a certain kind of reporter gaggle:
Lots of phone-centric press in Facebook HQ lobby, along with intl. a natl. press. This is a mobile event for sure.— Mike Isaac (@MikeIsaac) January 15, 2013
That doesn't necessarily mean a Facebook-branded phone, of course. Though, The Verge notes demo stations, in its liveblog. But as we wrote earlier today, it could suggest an operating system. And Business Insider's Jim Edwards has new sources saying today's announcement centers on a mobile-ad product, which would be less exciting for the masses and more something for investors. The event starts in a just a few minutes, at which point we will get to see this exciting new... something that Facebook built.