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Facebook unveils radical new 'graph search' feature at launch event

At a special launch event in California, Facebook has unveiled a brand new search feature for its social network, called graph search.

The intelligent feature allows the user to search for people and places with ‘natural’ search entries, such as, "who are my friends in London?", or "friends who like football". Utilising its vast user database and the information Facebook members have shared on their accounts, search graph can swiftly offer lists of other users who fall within the search parameters.

Many had expected the social network to launch a full web search engine as a challenger to the dominant Google, but founder Mark Zuckerberg, who presented the new feature on stage in California, insisted the function will only apply to Facebook.

Zuckerberg did however reveal that it was integrating with Microsoft’s Bing seach engine for the occasions when graph search cannot find the relevant answers.

The CEO said Facebook had been working with Bing on search graph “for months,” but admitted he would “love to work with Google”. Zuckerberg explained that the issue of indexing prevented such a partnership, as Google would not be able to implement changes quickly enough if a user changed privacy settings on a photo from public to private, for example.

Facebook explained that the search graph refers to the whole pool of data that is shared between ‘friends’ on the site, including photos, status updates, ‘likes’, and location data. Using this information has allowed Facebook to drastically enhance its previously limited search feature, and developers emphasised its ability to even give results for requests such as, “friends of friends who are single in San Francisco.”

Perhaps fearing another backlash over its privacy policies and ownership of user data, Zuckerberg emphasised that there were limits to the search function and that it remained “privacy aware.”

But are you comfortable with the way Facebook is using your personal information? Let us know in the comments below.