Though Facebook is a great tool for keeping in contact with family and friends, Facebook doesn’t do much for the historically minded user. If you really want to know what your friend from college was doing two years ago, you might have a tough time locating that information.
However, today Facebook is rolling out a new feature that should help users find more specific information on the service: Facebook graph search.
This new feature allows users to search through friends’ entire feeds for posts about a certain topic, browse likes, and even look for pictures taken on a certain date or at a specific location. The new tool shows up as a blue search bar in the top left hand corner of the Facebook home screen. Simply typing text into the box will bring up suggested results that include likes, photographs, and of course status updates that meet the criteria of your search.
Though this might sound like a good idea, Facebook graph search isn’t just for friends. Anyone can use graph search to look up data on people with whom they are not connected. This aspect has some privacy advocates concerned, as casual users probably aren’t aware that their personal information has become searchable.
Facebook graph search allows you to search all Facebook members for people who have “liked” a certain band or author, for example. Some have worried that this could lead to an increase of Facebook spam, as users with certain public interests can now be targeted more easily, by not only big companies but single users as well.
According to ABC News, there is a way for users to opt out of graph search, but as always, users will have to seek it out in Facebook’s privacy settings menu and make sure all of their content (including pictures, links, likes, etc) are set to either “Private” or “Friends Only” so that they do not show up in Facebook graph search.
As of right now, Facebook graph search is a feature that can only be found in the browser version of Facebook, and there are no immediate plans to bring this feature to mobile platforms. However, given that the majority of Facebook users access the site at least once a day via a tablet or smartphone, it’s highly probable that the service will eventually make its way to mobile platforms.