Is Facebook’s new Social Search Engine a Threat to Google?

Facebook’s new social search tool, Graph Search, depends heavily on “Likes” in Facebook and other connections to decide what to reveal as the most appropriate search result for each user. According to Facebook, their social search tool includes people, posts, places and interests.

Graph Search is very different from traditional search. Google, Bing and Yahoo searches are based on providing the best possible search results for a set of keywords, for instance ‘Chinese restaurants’. With Graph Search, if you use a combination of phrases to get that set of people, photos, places or content that’s shared on Facebook, for instance, ‘restaurants in New York that my friends like’.

Facebook Social Search

Graph search results are personalized. Moreover, content that is kept private will not be revealed in the search results; you get only content that has been shared with you. According to Facebook, Graph Search will benefit mainly active Facebook users who “liked” businesses and pages, movies and artists, and so on.

At least in the near term, Facebook’s social search tool will unlikely to challenge Google’s search engine dominance. In certain categories such as Places and Maps, Graph Search could prove more competitive. For more than a year, Google has been trying to combine web search and social networking by integrating Google+ into its search engine. Graph Search provides users with information that is not found on Google, and it does not mean to replace Google, say industry watchers. It is alos pointed out that the success of the search graph may depend largely on the launch of a mobile product by Facebook.

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