Facebook Introduces Graph Search, and Big News From 9 Other Social Sites

January 15, 2013  |  
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Today, Facebook hosted a press event announcing Graph Search, an internal feature that will help Facebook users find out more detailed information about their friends.

Graph Search is different than more traditional web search because it is designed to answer a question, said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the announcement, not just links to answers. Users can search for people, photos, places, and interests to determine things such as “my college friends living in San Francisco” or “nearby friends who like Game of Thrones” for a viewing party, for example. Results are also ranked by relevance to the user, with close friends showing up as top results.

The search function will allow users to more easily dig through all the friends, data, and content that has been shared with them via Facebook, and it will be privacy aware, only permitting searchers to see what their friends have posted or what is made public by other users.

“When Facebook first launched, the main way most people used the site was to browse around, learn about people and make new connections,” the company said in a press release about the feature. “Graph Search takes us back to our roots and allows people to use the graph to make new connections.”

During the announcement, Zuckerberg, Tom Stocky and Lars Rasmussen, who developed the feature, demonstrated how to use Graph Search for dating, recruiting, and commercial uses, with restaurants as an example. Because Graph Search can bring to light photos of users that had previously been hidden from a user’s Timeline, Facebook is also offering tools and resources to help users understand the privacy implications.

A search function was one of the rumors floating around after Facebook announced its event last week. The media predicts Facebook will work to compete with Google in helping individuals find information and answer questions.

This is the latest news to come out of the social networking site and yet one more thing to keep track of in the constantly-changing social media landscape. Here is a handy guide, keeping you up-to-date with your favorite (and soon-to-be-favorite?) social media sites.

The second-most popular social network on this list, Twitter, is finally growing up. The site counts more than 200 million active monthly users as of December and venture capitalist Fred Wilson hinted in a Twitter conversation (naturally) that the company is profitable. This is an interesting turn of events, as Twitter is a private company and has refused to discuss its financials publicly. Because of this type of news and success, the company is ripe for rumors of an IPO in 2014.

The professional social network announced that it has reached 200 million users around the world, with approximately two new members joining every second. However, as All Things D points out, this is LinkedIn’s registered members, not monthly active users. Available in 19 languages, LinkedIn has the most members in the US (with 74 million members), India (18 million), the UK (11 million), Brazil (11 million), and Canada (7 million).

Google’s social layer, Google+, has been pretty quiet toward the end of 2012. According to the company, there are 135 million users as of December 2012 and Google+ upgraded some of its photo features in early January. Photographers have seen success using Google+, so by focusing on some of its core users, Google can continue to build usage and interest.

Social blogging platform Tumblr is on the rise, with more than 150 million users as of September 2012. The latest news from the site is that, according to data from Y Combinator start-up Survata, Tumblr is more popular among teenagers 13 to 18 than Facebook is. The survey found that 55% of 13-to-18-year-olds use Facebook, compared to 61% on Tumblr. Meanwhile, Tumblr founder David Karp is becoming more established in the tech scene, and it is developing more advertising products for brands and marketers.

Location-based mobile-social network foursquare was also working on introducing new advertising options into its mobile application in 2012. But rumors that the company hasn’t lived up to expectations have risen. Analyst firm PrivCo predicted in a recent report that foursquare will fail in 2013 and will be sold for significantly less than the amount of money it has raised form funders. Other tech sites have debated this prediction, but it will be interesting to see how foursquare responds and works towards overcoming any challenges it has with advertising.

Last year was a major one for Pinterest, which rose from 4.45 million users in November 2011 to nearly 40 million by November 2012, according to comScore. In early January 2013, the company acquired Punchfork, a social site with recipes, food photos, and meal ideas, which will make its focus on food even greater. Additionally, as Pinterest becomes more of a player in the social media space for brands (especially retailers), analytics firms are starting to focus their features and tools for the photo-heavy site.

Technically, Instagram is owned by Facebook, but the photo-sharing application deserves a section all its own. In late 2012, the mobile app attempted to monetize its service and changed its terms of service, leading to confusion and backlash from users and the media. Several reports showed that Instagram lost users over the situation, and now Facebook has pulled the user data from public view.

Just when you thought you had a handle on all of the social media sites out there, a new one gains popularity among teenagers. Snapchat is that social network. A mobile application, Snapchat allows users to send friends a photo or video that automatically disappears after a few seconds. The company claims to send more than 30 million messages a day, CNN reported. While there are concerns about the security of the disappearing photos and how teenagers and others can use the site to send scandalous pictures, Snapchat is gaining buzz, especially with the problems Instagram is currently having.

You thought Myspace was dead? No one can blame you. But in late 2012, the Justin Timberlake-backed social site re-launched and this week re-opened the site to the public, featuring the new single from Timberlake himself. While overall users of Myspace are down, the site still saw more than 27.6 million unique visitors in November 2012, according to comScore. Matt Miller on Forbes described it this way: “There’s a lot to do on the New Myspace. Basically think of it as a mashup of Spotify, Facebook, iTunes, Pandora, YouTube, Pinterest, the old Myspace and that Ping thing that didn’t work. It’s actually pretty exciting, the problem is, though, there’s nothing tying all of these ingredients together.” What do you think? Will you make a return to Myspace?

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