- Facebook's "Graph Search" feature is now available in English in the U.S.
- The advanced search feature makes it easy to dig through the social network for people, places and photos
- Users should check their privacy settings if they do not want to appear in the search results
Facebook's Graph Search, which lets people more efficiently dig through the massive social network for people, places and other content, is now available on all English versions of the website in the U.S.
The advanced search feature will appear as a normal search field at the top of Facebook.com, though it is not yet available to mobile users.
Graph Search raised privacy concerns when it was originally announced, and this wider launch will mean more people can decide for themselves how useful or invasive it really is.
To run a search, type in a full question that lays out what you want to find. Start with the types of content on Facebook such as photos, people, businesses, movies or bands, or a general topic like tea or badminton. Next, narrow it down with qualifiers like location, dates, friend recommendations or profile information.
For example, you can search for "Photos taken in San Francisco, California, of Golden Gate Bridge in 2013" or "Restaurants in Queens, New York, liked by my friends." If you're planning a trip, look for stores or hotels at your destination visited by locals. If you want a date who shares your hobbies, try something like "Single women who live in San Diego, California, and who like pages I like." Then narrow the results using the detailed categories like age, education, home town or religious views.
Once you start typing, Graph Search will helpfully suggest possible combinations and questions.
To protect your privacy and control exactly who sees your information, take a trip back to your Facebook settings and check your sharing options. You can edit the various parts of your profile so that they are only viewable by you or your friends, or if you don't mind meeting strangers interested in a game of tennis, the public.
Under the privacy settings, open up your activity log for granular control of the entire trail of content you've left on Facebook, including likes, groups and events. You can quickly see all photos of you that are visible to the public and change who can see them. Any public photos can show up in Graph Searches based on their location or or the date they were taken. In the main privacy settings view, you can make some bulk privacy settings by limiting old posts so they are only viewable by certain people, or setting the default privacy settings for your future posts.
The company has certain safeguards in place to protect minors from potentially creepy Graph Searches. Profile details for minors are only viewable to their friends and friends of friends, and friends of friends will only see them in searches if they are also under 18 years old.
Facebook says the feature has been improved since it was first launched in January as a beta feature for select users. The company says the latest version is faster, understands natural language questions better, and returns more relevant results.