No shortage of opinion on Facebook Graph Search


A lot of digital ink has been spilled since Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) announced its new Graph Search to much fanfare last week, and needless to say, it has involved a broad range of opinions. I thought it would be interesting to devote this week's Editor's Corner to exploring the wide variety of thinking on the new service.

Let's just say it's all over the place. You've been warned.

Not to be left out, I dove right in myself after hearing the announcement, speculating in a post here on FierceContentManagement that Graph Search might serve marketers better than regular users, who might not find it as nearly useful. It seems I wasn't alone in this view. 

Writing on Forbes in a post called "Facebook Graph Search Is A Disruptive Minefield Of Unintended Consequences," Anthony Wing Kosner wondered if there was much of a consumer use case for Graph Search, while adding that there clearly was one for marketers. Exactly. 

Owen Thomas, writing on Business Insider, suggested the real problem was getting good results in Graph Search. Only a few of my friends share location data on Facebook, so I too wonder how this is going to work. As Thomas wrote, "Facebook has made attempts to get people to provide better local data--for example, encouraging users to rate restaurants after they check in. But that assumes they've checked in at all." And if my friends are any indication, we don't. (As I noted in my article last week, I believe photo search could prove the most useful.)

But not everyone was as down on Graph search. John Battelle sees it as a way to save Facebook and move it from a flat service to a dynamic one. He believes Facebook has an engagement problem and this service provides a way out of that issue. He clearly likes it calling it "a solidly conceived structured-search service which leverages the company's massive trove of personal data in any number of new ways."

The Wall Street Journal believes it puts Facebook on a collision course with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) while Industry pundit Robert Scoble, writing on the Q&A site Quora, believes it could threaten Google, but only in the long term.

Danny Sullivan from SearchEngineLand believes it is a threat, but not necessarily in a way you would expect , "Facebook is providing a new type of search that you simply can't do on Google or anywhere else," Sullivan wrote.

But what about Bing, which currently has the advantage of having built-in Facebook integration if you're willing to link your Facebook account to Bing? Again, depends who you ask. Alex Williams reported that Microsoft called Graph Search "Bing's new best friend," but suggested that there is speculation that with Graph Search in place, Microsoft's days as Facebook's BFF could be numbered. 

As Mary Jo Foley wrote on ZDNet, the relationship is certainly complicated at this point, but Bing has powered the web search part of Facebook search since 2010, and that's not changing with Graph Search. Not to be left out, The New York Times wondered if Facebook's fortunes rested on the success or failure of Graph Search.

That's a lot of opinion, and this round-up just begins to scratch the service of what has been written on the matter. As the rolling Beta begins to spread more widely, there's bound to be even more. I warned you didn't I? - Ron