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Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 11:20 am PT (02:20 pm ET)

Facebook to take on Google with personalized 'Graph Search'

Facebook on Tuesday announced a new feature for the social networking site that promises to make it easier to locate personalized content through searching.

Facebook


The new "Graph Search" functionality unveiled by Facebook is an easier way for users to search what they and their friends have shared on Facebook. For example, searching in natural language for "photos of my friends in Palo Alto, California taken in 2010" will serve those specifically tailored results.

In its first version, Graph Search will focus on four main areas of interest: people, photos, places and interests. Example queries provided by Facebook include "software engineers who live in San Francisco and like skiing," "photos of the Eiffel Tower," "Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India," and "strategy games played by friends of my friends."

For information that exists outside of Facebook, the site will continue to serve results scoured by Microsoft's Bing search engine, and not Google.

Facebook


But graph search varies from Web search in that every piece of content hosted by Facebook has its own audience, and most of that content isn't public — unlike the results offered by Google or Bing.

"We've built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook," the site said. "It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook."

Graph Search is currently in beta and is available to some users of the site in a limited preview. Users can sign up by visiting facebook.com/about/graphsearch. Initially it will only be available in the browser, and not as a part of Facebook's mobile site or apps.

"Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page," the company said in a statement. "When you search for something, that search not only determines the set of results you get, but also serves as a title for the page. You can edit the title – and in doing so create your own custom view of the content you and your friends have shared on Facebook."

Facebook, which has more than a billion active monthly users, has strengthened its partnerships with Apple in the last year, as Facebook integration has found its way into both the iOS and OS X platforms. Late Apple co-founder also said that he admired Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, saying he had an "intuitive feel" for company needs and passion.