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How Facebook built Graph Search and what it means to social media

Facebook's new Graph Search is a search engine built specifically for social networks. But how did engineers build it?

By , Network World
January 16, 2013 01:27 PM ET

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This could allow Facebook, using Graph Search, to eat other social networks for lunch. Zuckerbeg notes his newfound ability with Graph Search to find engineers at Google who are Facebook friends with Facebook employees - a direct swipe at professional networking site LinkedIn. Online dating sites? With Graph Search, users can search for single friends of friends in a specific geographic area, digging right into the wheel-house of popular dating sites like or eHarmony.

So has Facebook revolutionized search? Time will tell, says Susan Etlinger, a data expert at the Altimeter group. Graph Search does have its limitations though, she points out. While Facebook has data that Google doesn't, that statement is true the other way around too. Graph Search, for one, is inherently limited by the social network of the searcher, and Facebook's users. Facebook doesn't allow users younger than the age of 13 to create an account, she adds. "Google has a much larger base dataset," she notes. "Basically anyone with an Internet connection."

Still, Eltinger believes Graph Search could be a game changer for the search and social networking industry by personalizing search. "There just hasn't been a platform that's been this truly personal in nature," she says. "Graph Search results are related directly to your friends, interests and connections. That's a powerful tool."

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

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