You’ve probably heard of FaceBook Graph Search, FaceBook’s new semantic search engine, developed by Lars Rasmussen and Tom Stocky, former Google assets. This search engine focuses on proving answers in natural language than display a bunch of links. Here are several things you absolutely must know about FB Graph Search.

1. It Helps You Explore Your Social Circles

FaceBook Graph will not search the internet to provide answers to user queries. Rather, it brings out results and answers from the user’s social circles and from unexpected online resources. Results may contain information pertaining to user’s friends, though FaceBook assures that profile privacy will be respected.

2. It Makes It Easy To Find FaceBook Members

Since FaceBook Graph provides answers in natural language, it becomes easier to find other FaceBook members, even without knowing their handles. To get at this information, FB Graph sorts through pictures, profiles, businesses and artists on FaceBook.

3. You Can Search For Multiple Social Aspects

When you use FaceBook Graph, you can easily search for nearby restaurants and bars, know what kind of music your friends like, look at photos that you have liked and so on. You can delve in-depth into the social aspect of networking, without visiting anyone’s profile or spending much time on FaceBook.

4. Graph Is Capable Of Processing Specific Phrases

For example, if you want to search for a particular photo that your friend Jose took of you in Santiago, Chile, you can ask FB Graph to search for it.  This means Graph takes not just random keywords as input, but very specific information in the form of phrases as well to widen and expand one’s search.

5. FaceBook Displays Privacy Settings with Results

When you search for pictures uploaded by a certain user, FaceBook Graph will display the pictures only if they’ve been shared with you by the user. Or, if the pictures are set for ‘public’ access. If the pictures are private and not to be accessed by strangers, then FB Graph will not display them.

6. You Can Use Graph Search To Find Recommended Services

You can look for top-ranking services in any area, or those services that are recommended by certain authority bodies. For example, restaurants recommended by the Culinary Institute of England, or for Indian restaurants recommended by actual Indian expats.

7. You Can Use Graph to Do Granular Searches

FaceBook Graph will suggest search refinements as you search. You can drill results down based on any characteristic – age, locality, religion, gender, and so on. For example, you can get a list of Methodist men living in Sunnyvale, CA, who have taken classes in salsa dancing.

8. You Can Search For People who’ve ‘Liked’ Things

FaceBook Graph allows you to search for people who’ve ‘Liked’ the topic you’re interested in. For example, you people who like fashion jewelry, people who don’t like Obama, people who are racists, or like to get high or get drunk. Flipside – this kind of global information might not be desirable, in the hands of a malicious stranger.

9. Likes Are Displayed Despite Privacy Settings

When you click the ‘Like’ button on any page, website, blog or forum, that information is easy pickings for FaceBook Graph users. Even if your FaceBook profile is fully privacy-protected, all the topics you’ve ‘liked’ can help someone build a psychological profile of the kind of person you are.

10. You Can See Even Anyone’s Photos

Including those photos that are hidden from timeline. Though your privacy choices determine what’s searchable and what’s not, anything that a person shares with you is searchable, even if those things, including photos, are hidden from that person’s timeline. In fact, you can even see photos in which your friends have been tagged. FaceBook provides videos of how to remove photo tags of you. However, if these untagged photos are left undeleted, anyone can search them on FaceBook Graph.

11. FB Graph Represents Potential for Misuse

It’s possible to search for politically, religiously and socially sensitive information that could be used for the wrong purposes. Tom Scott, the well known web prankster performed a bunch of sensitive searches on FB Graph and found out that the results could be put to negative and discriminative use by negatively motivated people. Scott feels that even with all the privacy assurances by Facebook, it’s still scary to be able to find out this much information about random strangers.

12.  Can Be Better Used If User Account is Modified

FaceBook’s privacy settings are good, but users must go in to their history of likes and dislikes and remove those that might potentially cause them problems. Users must also develop a good understanding of how to deploy FaceBook’s privacy settings to keep their information safe from public searches. This includes deleting embarrassing photos where the users are tagged.

Gagan works for Invesp, a leading company in the area of conversion optimization. He writes articles on this subject for various blogs and publications.

12 Things You Need To Know About FaceBook Graph Search