Some days ago a friend told me that his team just published a brand new iPhone and Android App called Spotnick that allows mobile Facebook users to immediately locate and track their friends. After connecting to Spotnick by using your Facebook account, you are shown a map on which you can locate your linked Facebook friends. As far as your friends are not updating their location in realtime, Spotnick uses the actual home address, or the last known address your freinds entered within Facebook. The Spotnick app also allows to track and update your own address in realtime, so that you can select people who are allowed to see your realtime location. Spotnick app was published for Android as well as for iPhone.
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.
Glancee, which was recently acquired by Facebook in May 2012, is another good example for a recommendation engine that uses location information in combination with the network community Facebook. The goal of Glancee is to recommend new people which are sharing the same location, who you didn’t knew before.