Facebook builds knowledge graph with info modules on community pages

Over the past few months, Facebook has added a number of new modules to the site’s unofficial community pages about people, places and things. Information from Wikipedia has been compiled into different sections that help users understand topics at a glance.

For example, a page about public figure will include an “about” section listing the person’s profession, family, hometown and nationality. A page about a musician might include a list of an artist’s albums, the record labels they were part of, instruments they play and genres they are known for. A page about an actor might list movies he starred in or characters he’s known for. Each bit of information is a link to another page on Facebook.

This only happens on unclaimed community pages, not official fan pages or business pages that have an admin. Community pages were created by Facebook in 2010. Basically every topic on Wikipedia has a page on the social network. Over the past few months, Facebook has started to extract some of the information from within the Wikipedia text and turn it into these more visual modules. The modules make the pages more compelling and show how the social network is building its own “knowledge graph” — a concept Google has begun to implement in its search engine. Instead of simply showing users a list of links that may contain the information they’re looking for, Google now displays a sidebar of facts and related queries. What Facebook offers on community pages is very similar. [Update: Facebook apparently uses the term “entity graph” instead.]

When asked about search in September 2012, CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about Facebook’s potential to answer users questions. Not only does the company have massive amounts of information that can be used to help users get personalized recommendations, it has a lesser-known store of factual information, such as a restaurant’s business hours or what movies Steven Spielberg has directed.

Community pages show both sides of this. For instance, a page about a musician will include a list of friends who have listened to the artist, friends’ photos that include the artist’s name in the caption, and any posts they have made mentioning the artist. The page will also offer biographical information and a discography. Rather than create a search engine to direct users off Facebook, the company could create the ultimate landing pages for any entity by combining facts and social context. Now Facebook just needs to make it easier for users to discover these pages.

See community pages for Whitney HoustonSteven Spielberg, The College Dropout, Sister Act and Baseball as examples.

Related article: What Facebook Search Can Answer