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Facebook announced its new Graph Search system on Tuesday morning, adding an entirely new way to seek out content and people on the social network. While the service is starting out as a very limited beta, Graph Search does look like an interesting, perhaps more personal alternative to Google searches.
"Facebook's mission is to make the world more open and connected," reads the company's news release. "The main way we do this is by giving people the tools to map out their relationships with the people and things they care about. We call this map the graph. It's big and constantly expanding with new people, content and connections. There are already more than a billion people, more than 240 billion photos, and more than a trillion connections."
Essentially, Graph Search will modify the old search bar already atop your Facebook page, using a new algorithm to hunt down content from within your network to answer questions. You might ask, "Which of my friends in this town have a good plumber?" Graph Search will seek out related posts from your local pals, to see if they've liked a plumbing service, for example.
The results of searches will create an entirely new page with an editable title. We can see this as actually being kind of fun, like creating a "Friends who like Willem Dafoe and also Norwegian Black Metal" page. Then, every time a buddy who likes Black Metal posts a picture of Willem Dafoe, it's all centralized. And honestly, what headbanger doesn't love some Willem Dafoe?
Before you start freaking out about how your personal stuff might show up in Graph Searches, Facebook has stated the system is "privacy aware," meaning your traditional privacy settings will still apply to anything displayed.
"We've built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook," reads the announcement.
All in all, the service looks fairly useful, but we can't see it fully in action just yet. Facebook is rolling out Graph Search as a limited beta for the time being, restricted to English-speaking residents in the U.S. If you're interested in Graph Search, just head over to the site and click on the button at the bottom to join the waiting list.
Follow this article's author, Matt Clark on Twitter.