Facebook, the social media giant which was first conceptualized and created in a dorm room at Harvard University is said to hit more than a billion users by the end of 2013. This figure is not at all surprising, given the popularity and influence of this social medium. Facebook has completely changed the lives of so many of us. The website did not just make an impact on the general public; business entities have also made good use of the networking medium. “It’s the ability to obtain and share information, build relationships, share experiences that is shaping our culture. As I’m writing today, my boyfriend is on video chat with me. We work side by side almost daily though he’s across town. My daughter lives her life out loud on Facebook, she lives like everyone is watching because they are. How will that impact the psychology of her generation? I like to think it will evolve into generations with more and more integrity, empathy, and tolerance. Now that’s change, real social change.” (Kelley-Sue LeBlanc)
Since it was first publicly launched, Facebook has undergone a series of overhauls and interface changes that are supposedly made to suit the needs and demands of its users. What used to be an ad-free social networking site is now flooded with various advertising spots in different forms. It was just last month when Facebook invited the press to witness an important new development that they would be unveiling. For Darcy Travlos of Forbes, “That alone was enough to spark a number of theories on what was about to come out from the Palo Alto giant: a much-speculated Facebook phone? Another Instagram-like acquisition?” The announcement was a new system in search, which the social networking leader dubbed, Graph Search. How will this affect Facebook users who have shared so much, some might say too much, personal content? How will businesses, entities and organizations be affected by this innovation?
Facebook has now provided a half-advert, half-invite page regarding the Graph Search asking users if they want to be part of beta-testing. Have business pages been invited to this testing as well? Gaming sites like Bingo! have used the site as a method of updating their gamers and at inviting visitors to join their gaming community. With Bingo becoming a largely social gaming site, how will that go into the content search equation? Consider other businesses that have created pages on Facebook. Will some of these restaurants, phone services, and retail stores boost sales by becoming more searchable?
Brandon Griggs and Heather Kelly of CNN notes that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s Graph Search feature will have very limited functions in the mean time. Graph Search will focus on four main aspects which include interests, people, photos and places. According to Zuckerberg, additional features can be expected as the team behind the new application further develops it. According to Travlos’ article published on Forbes.com, the launch of Graphic Search is part of Facebook’s attempt to become the leading, one-stop internet destination.
The emerging issue here is the privacy of its millions of users. Facebook has always considered privacy a major concern. Facebook says that “Graph Search will return only content that has been shared with you.” The next questions now are: just how much user shared information will be rummaged through, and what will determine who will have access to such information? Better keep an eye on those Privacy Settings, as well as their Terms and Policies. As more changes roll out, the more we have to keep our personal data private.