Screen shot 2013-01-24 at 11.05.08 AMIn an effort to help marketers crack the social media search code, Facebook is introducing its latest tool called Graph Search. Of course Zuckerberg serves this up to his fan base as a great way to better connect with others who share the same interests. But anyone with a digital marketing background knows this is an attempt to offer Facebook user data to advertisers by more than just marital status, location and interests.

How does it work? As a Facebook user, you’ll be able to search for things like “Friends in Westchester whose son plays ice hockey” and you’ll be served with vast amounts of info previously posted on Facebook by folks who have chosen in their privacy settings to share their posts, pictures and interests with you. Some would argue the new tool will be even more valuable than Google search, as it looks up not only the information you want, but how people “feel” about it. For example finding a product through Google search may pull up various places and price points for purchasing an item. However, with Facebook Graph, you can discover that most moms in your neighborhood, as well as their friends, gave a “thumbs up” to a particular kids’ birthday party venue over the other competitor in town—and this, my friend, is invaluable.

Graph may be new for all of us users, however, I just want to point out that Facebook already has a pretty interesting search function most people don’t know about. Sure, you may have searched for friends or company pages using that little magnifying glass at the top of the page, but, did you know you can get much more in-depth information by scrolling to the bottom of the search menu to “See More Results for…?”

Facebook SearchLet’s say I were a tech blog <<cough:gotechmom>> looking to connect with anyone interested in talking about, say, “photography.” I could search for “photography” and pull up a list of photographers or photography pages. Or I could scroll to the bottom of the menu to conduct an “advance search” choosing “See more results for photography.” Now I get a menu on the left with a ton of other search options. So I can look for (A) my friends who have posted something about photography (B) all people who have posted something about photography or (C) a range of other options to find photography pages, local hobbyist, photography events, and any other public posts. You get the idea. This proves uber handy if I want to promote tickets for something like a photography show, or anything else. I can look for exactly the people I want to reach out to, start a conversation with, and invite to attend.

Facebook SearchSo how is Graph different from what Facebook is doing now? For one, the advance search feature is no longer buried—and thanks to all the recent hubbub, everyone is on the lookout for it. It also comes with fancy visual graphics of all your friends and their friends’ data, as well as lets you string together several search terms into one search. Somehow, it just feels more personal, and perhaps, borderline invasive. Take a look at these hilarious yet unfortunate search outcomes using real Facebook Graph compiled by @tomscott. It’s enough to make you run to your privacy settings now and delete any inappropriate posts, pictures, off-hand comments, tags or fan pages you may have once liked or posted. Read the search terms in the blue bar, and if you’re not horrified, see the rest posted here on Tom’s Tumblr page.

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While Facebook assures us they will abide by your chosen privacy settings, there has been recent controversy, particularly with 3rd party Storify, about what shows up in your newsfeed and what can be shared publicly. Users in private groups, discussing sensitive information, can see their posts, and other anonymous member posts in their timeline.  So the question is, do Facebook apps abide by the same privacy rules as those of Facebook? Or does the rulebook change?

Stay tuned… What are your thoughts on the Facebook Graph search tool? Did you know you can use Facebook Interest Groups to stay up on things you love? Read more here.

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