Facebook’s Graph Search For Journalists

By David Cohen 

The graph search friends-based search engine Facebook announced Tuesday can be a valuable source for valuable sources for journalists, and for photos, as well, Journalist Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik wrote in a note on the Facebook + Journalists page.

Graph search, introduced earlier Tuesday at a press event at the social network’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., is a live search bar that makes it simple for users to find what their friends have liked or recommended, as well as photos of friends. When users begin typing in the large search bar at the top of the page, graph search displays suggestions, and results pages contain the ability to customize and filter.

Lavrusik wrote:

Because graph search is in early stages of development, the first version focuses on four main areas: people, photos, places, and interests.

The new search enables journalists to do richer searches when trying to find experts for stories. For example, say you’re doing a story on a specific company, and you’re looking to interview someone who works at the company’s New York office, you could do this by searching for, “People who work at ACME Inc. in New York,” to find potential employees to reach out to. You could even make the search more specific to find people who work at the company with specific titles, for example. This could make it easier to find potential sources and experts to reach out to for stories you’re working on.

This will also make it easier for people to discover journalists on Facebook. For example, if I want to find potential journalists to follow on Facebook, I could simply type in “journalists” to find people or pages that fall into this category. By selecting people, I will see anyone who has a journalist-related public title on their Facebook profile and, if they have follow enabled, I will be able to keep up with their public updates in my news feed.

With more than 240 billion photos on Facebook, graph search makes it easier to find public photos and filter the results, such as finding photos posted within a specific location (as broad as photos within a city to photos posted at a specific landmark based on location tags from users). This could serve as a great tool during breaking news situations or even to conduct research about a location to get a sense of what it appears like visually.

During the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, lots of people were sharing photos from the Games. If you were a journalist covering the story, you would be able to do custom search (i.e., “photos taken at Olympic Park”) to find photos uploaded within a specific area and reach out to potential sources and, if they provide permission, use their photos in your story.

Graph search also enables you to conduct searches based on people’s connections to interests on Facebook. For example, you could conduct a search to find “books liked by journalists” on Facebook. This will show a set of some of the commonly liked books by people who include journalist-related titles in their job description. Journalists could use the interest-based searches to gain insights about trends. For example, you can do searches like “movies liked by people who are film directors,” or “books read by CEOs,” or like the example below, which searches for “pages liked by people who work at Facebook.”

Readers: Are you anxious to get started with Facebook’s graph search?