Finally, a real search function for Facebook

Facebook | Graph Search

The Facebook search box has, until now, been pretty useless for anything other than navigating to a friend's profile. If you wanted to browse public posts from non-friends, search for photos from a party last week or ask an open-ended question, it was just awful.

Now that's changing. Facebook announced the beta version of a new tool called Graph Search that enables detailed searching for people and content. For journalists, this tool provides "a 'Rolodex' of 1 billion potential sources," Facebook's Vadim Lavrusik writes. He explains:

The new search enables journalists to do richer searches when trying to find an expert for a story. For example, say you’re doing a story on a specific company and you’re looking to interview someone who works at the company in their New York office, you could do this by searching for “People who work at ACME Inc in New York” to find potential employees to reach out to. You could even make the search more specific to find people who work at the company with a specific title, for example. This could make it easier to find potential sources & experts to reach out to for stories you’re working on.

Of course, LinkedIn has long been pretty good for that type of search and is probably still better at it. But Facebook does have more users and content to search, and has the advantage of filtering by your personal network. You might have better luck finding sources on Facebook who aren't working white-collar professional jobs.

The Facebook search tool seems to be optimized for descriptive phrases rather than individual keywords. You enter something like "people who like kittens," "photos of the ocean" or "friends who live in New York," and the results should be what you expect. If you want to try it, you have to request to join the waiting list.

Related: Steven Levy's inside story on Facebook's "bold, compelling and scary" search engine (Wired).

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    Jeff Sonderman

    Jeff Sonderman is the deputy director of the American Press Institute, helping to lead its use of research, tools, events, and strategic insights to advance and sustain journalism.


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