Facebook jumps on the social search bandwagon

For some time I have complained about the fact that the data on Facebook has an extremely short useful time period. One example I use is this: If a friend on Facebook writes that a specific movie is good, but I don’t happen to be going to the movies for a month, the fact that my friend told me about a movie a month ago is useless to me. But if the night I plan on going to the movie, I can search my friends’ feeds for movie recommendations, the data remains useful.

One of the powerful benefits of Google+ is that it defeats this problem. Google+ is searchable, within the confines of your privacy settings. So if you publicly discuss a movie, that fact is searchable by anyone. If you discuss a movie and make it viewable only by certain people, then only those people can find this information.

The problem with Google+ is that it just isn’t as popular as Facebook. I will be honest and tell you that I generally only use Google+ for search engine optimization. But I talk with my friends on Facebook. Therefore the data I share on Facebook, on the whole, is more complete and more useful than the data I share on Google+.

No doubt people will be concerned about their privacy now that Facebook will soon be searchable. But the reality is simple. You should always be concerned about your privacy on Facebook or any other social media site. That said, with social search coming, you might want to go back through your posts and remove anything that concerns you. You have time. First, Facebook is rolling out its search slowly. Second, for now, only pictures and locations will be searchable. I have no doubt status updates will be along shortly.

In reviewing the service, which is called Graph Search, cNet has said, “It’s good. It’s very good.”


There is no doubt in my mind that Graph Search is a precursor to key word marketing, the holy grail that will cause Facebook’s stock to go through the roof. If Facebook can develop true key word based marketing, much like Google (leaving any patent issues aside for the moment) it will become a much more valuable advertising medium. All of a sudden we will be able to put ads right on the screen where people are searching for a car, or a divorce attorney. This will annoy Facebook’s users. But they had best be prepared for it.

A Note to Attorneys

The availability of social search is important to attorneys. We already look on Facebook (or should be looking on Facebook) to see what our clients, witnesses, and the opposing side say, as long as we do so within the confines of the ethical rules. Now we will be able to search for specific key terms and see if the data is publicly available, or, we will be able to search for those terms if and when we achieve access through discovery.

Remember, you may not tell a client to clean up an account as part of litigation. Remind your clients of this, please.


Here is the opportunity to stop and remember. Data people thought might have been all but gone remains on your Facebook wall forever, unless you delete it. (Facebook claims once you delete it, it is gone, but who knows about that.) Now, that data will be easily findable by those to whom you previously gave access.

If you would like to be put on the waiting list to access Graph Search, visit the signup page.

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