Brisbane: It has been over ten years since people began making the choice to share their lives online, and users buying into social search will be the next step according to Facebook. Facebook has announced the release of their new search tool, called Graph Search; a reference to the network of friends its users have created.
This new search function encourages users to divulge more personal information in order to provide better advertising results.
Google began introducing semantic over the last few years, and there have been numerous attempts from other (Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Hunch) to utilize social search; but nothing at the order of magnitude at which Facebook operates.
This new search function is being regarded by many as a test for the users of the social networking site which could have repercussions for the Internet at large due to the scale at which Facebook operates. The test will show whether users are willing to allow and contribute to more sharing of their personal lives and whether or not social search is the future of online interaction.
If successful, Facebook is confident that it’s over one billion users (1.01 billion as of September 2012) will be willing to share more information from the movies they watch, the places they visit or the food they eat.
Facebook’s algorithms will filter search results for each individual and ranking the friends and brands that it thinks a user would trust the most. Initially, the new tool will mine users photos, check-ins and likes, but will later search through a users complete profile, status updates, and posts.
Tom Stocky, one of the creators of Facebook search, said in an interview this week "People have shared all this great stuff on Facebook," Mr. Stocky said. "It’s latent value. We wanted a way to unlock that."
As anticipated Facebook users have mixed feelings regarding the new search tool. Independent studies suggest that social media users are actually becoming more resistant about revealing more about themselves online. This reluctance may stem from increased media attention given to online privacy and protection, and scattered reports of employers and educators using the medium to investigate Facebook profiles.
In a survey of 500 students aged 21 and 22, Eszter Hargittai, an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University stated: "These behavioral patterns seem to suggest that many young adults are less keen on sharing at least certain details about their lives rather than more."
Another study from the Pew Internet Center indicated that social users (especially those on Facebook) were aggressively pruning their profiles by removing friends, comments and tagged photos.
It may be that Facebook is taking a huge gamble with their launch into social search. With many users (including myself) trying to close down the doors of Facebook instead of opening them up, Facebook may not be paying enough attention to the fact that many users are facing a social-saturation-tipping point, or "social media burnout" en masse and may they have missed the mark on this latest endeavor.
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