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Facebook vs. Google: Will Graph Search break Google?

Facebook’s Open Graph is old news nowadays. While it hasn’t been officially released (you can only join the waiting list at the moment), it’s certainly been talked about enough online since it was unveiled by Mark Zuckerberg on January 15th 2013. It’s actually still in beta, but we can still ponder over its effects on the Almighty Google …


What’s Graph Search?

If you haven’t heard of Graph Search (shame on you!), it’s Facebook’s shiny new toy. With it, you’ll be able to search up pretty much anything to find pictures, videos, posts, notes and everything in between that relate.

For instance, you could find:

–          Friends that went to London in June 2009

–          Friends with pet lizards

–          Friends that listen to Led Zeppelin

–          Friends that like chocolate

And anything else you’re interested in finding out about your friends. As it’s Facebook’s very own search engine, it’ll spit out all the information relating to your search and, if there isn’t anything available, it’ll work with Bing to bring results from the wider web that may be what you were looking for.


Didn’t I hear there’s a privacy issue?

Yes and no. There’s a lot of concern surrounding the privacy issues that Graph Search could throw up. The blog Actual Facebook Graph Searches has come up with some surprising results, such as ‘people who like racism’ and the (very stalkerish) ‘single women who live nearby and who are interested in men and like getting drunk’ search.

That’s the main concern really – will it give internet stalkers yet another tool? And, will it make the rash of employers firing employees over their online presence even more widespread? On the flipside though, as long as you ramp up your privacy settings you won’t appear in other peoples’ Graph Searches.



How does Graph Search compare to Google?

On the face of it, you might think that Graph Search and Google are worlds apart. Wrong.

The world is turning into a sci-fi novel. Okay, maybe not ‘1984’ or ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, but definitely something akin to sci-fi. We’re all glued to our mobiles, we drive hybrid cars, we travel on super-fast trains (when they work), and we’re ruled by social media. Take a look at these stats:

Facebook – 750m monthly users

Twitter – 250m monthly users

LinkedIn – 110m monthly users

Pinterest – 85.5m monthly visitors

Myspace – 70.5mmonthly users

Google+ – 65m monthly users

And that’s just the main social networking sites in the UK. There are many, many others out there.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see just how important social networking is becoming, which means Graph Search definitely has the upper hand when compared to Google.

Let me use this excellent infographic to show the many benefits that Graph Search has:


Click to view larger image (©gggadgets.com)

Is Google ready for the fight?

Yes, undoubtedly.

In the real world, Google and Graph Search are after the same thing – to create a serendipitous search engine.

This means they want to create a search engine that provides you with the answers you didn’t even know you were looking for. Google’s been working on a search engine like this for some time now, and its many algorithm changes are helping to steer it in the right direction.

The main issue with Google is that it’s still based on keywords, rather than the natural language that Facebook’s Graph Search will use. This limits it quite a lot, which isn’t good when faced with Graph Search’s endless possibilities.

Final verdict

Facebook’s Graph Search is a viable contender for Google. There’s no doubt about it. With Facebook’s innovative search style and the sheer number of users that will take to it, there’s no way it won’t put a dent in Google.

But, I don’t think it’ll be a significant dent. At the end of the day, people like convenience. It’s convenient to go to Google every time you want to find something online. It isn’t convenient to learn how to use a new search engine.

Open Graph will use your friends to recommend shops, stores, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and absolutely everything else. These personal recommendations are definitely stronger than the random, spammy reviews companies can buy on Fiverr.com.

The big drawback is that Facebook only has access to actual users, whereas Google has access to the entire internet. You could say that Facebook’s partnership with Bing will counteract this, especially as it beat Google 2:1 in the ‘Bing it on’ challenge, but old habits die hard. It’s my belief that people will continue to use Google, even if there are better options out there.

Images courtesy of Fortune Spreads, Mashable, Bloom in Business.


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