Facebook recently announced Social Graph Search, a new kind of semantic search engine that allows you to query Facebooks social graph data structure by using natural language queries. Facebook specifies some interesting but harmless samples for social graph queries, such as search for ‘People who like Cycling’, ‘Photos i like’, ‘Photos before 1970’, ‘Restaurants in London my Friends have been’ and so on. These queries seem to offer real potential for natural language processing in the area of social graphs. to use natural language processing for query large data graphs is not new, as it was already introduced by WolframAlpha, in order to query for all kind of general knowledge, from local weather to mathematical questions etc.
Facebook goes a little bit further by introducing a natural query language to search for quite personal information within a global available social graph. It of course depends on the type of queries that transforms Facebook’s social graph search into an informative personal tool for everyday life, or into the nightmare for every privacy activist. Some already published queries, such as ‘People working for Facebook’ or similar searches are quite scary and will for sure lead to misuse and dubious apps.
From business perspective the use of social graph queries allows advertisers to specifically select their target groups, even better than existing context- and location sensitive solutions already allow it today. Facebook’s social graph search will lead to a new level and quality of advertising, no matter if this means more or less advert annoyance for the future.