Browse Definitions:

Graph Search

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Graph Search is a search engine that is integrated with Facebook’s social graphs. The search engine processes natural language queries to return information from across the user’s social network of friends and connections or beyond, depending on the search. Potential applications of Graph Search include job searches, employee recruitment, marketing and online dating, among a great number of other possibilities.

Here are some examples of searches:

  • Restaurants that my friends like in New York City.
  • People in my company who like running.
  • Single men in New York City who are formerly from Rhode Island.
  • Games people who like Star Trek play.
  • Harvard alumni who like Madonna.
  • Pictures of my friends from before 1995.

Graph Search relies upon the huge amount of data on Facebook that is, or can be, linked to individuals and organizations. Within a social graph, individuals and organizations are nodes. On Facebook, individuals and organizations are connected through friendships, Likes and sharing, among other possibilities. A wide range of characteristics and concepts are also shared and can be correlated. These interdependencies, known as ties, include variables such as age, gender, marital status, hobbies, genealogy, chain of command, location, ideas, financial transactions, trade relationships, political affiliations, club memberships, occupation, education and economic status.

Facebook began a gradual beta rollout of Graph Search in January 2013. Facebook has plans to expand the search engine’s capabilities in the future.

TechCrunch demonstrates Graph Search:




This was last updated in January 2013

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