[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he world was once more all eyes and ears yesterday as the much vaunted and speculated upon press event occurred at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters for the arrival of what some industry pundits had expected and the announcement that Facebook was launching its search engine called ‘Graph Search’.During the presentation Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasised that Graph Search was different to general web search in that it was designed to handle search queries in a much more precise manner and would leverage Facebooks one billion members and their 240 billion photos and one trillion interpersonal connections.The team who developed the search engine was led by Lars Rasmussen who was the co-creator of Google Maps and Google Wave who showed off how the new engine could be used for photo type queries, while Zuckerberg demonstrated how Graph Search will deliver answers to questions like, “Who are my friends that live in San Francisco?”Zuckerberg told reporters “What is Graph Search? It’s not Web Search” and described it as focusing on people, their photos, places and interests where users can type a question into the search bar with an option to further refine these searches.

The firm also informed everyone that the new search engine was still currently operating under beta development and would roll out as a limited release initially being available to people who use Facebook in US English and that the roll out will be gradual, starting with a small number of users, you can sign up to the waiting list and learn more here http://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch . It also added that it would be making use of its partnership with Bing to deliver results that cannot be found on Facebook via Bing.com.

So How Does Graph Search Work?

The tool itself will appear as a bigger search bar than we are currently used to at the top of each page. As the user starts to type a query to search for something the powerful auto complete feature of the engine will start to make suggestions of searches you are looking to perform. Once you have selected the search that matches it will return a results page that you can then further filter and customise.

Mark Zuckerberg added that in order to fully understand the power of Graph Search you needed to try it out yourself, saying that the newest feature to Facebook formed the “Third Pillar” of the Facebook Ecosystem with the other two answering other queries, “whats going on around you” in the Newsfeed and “whats going on in your life” with the Timeline.

Privacy

As with everything else that Facebook does the questions of Privacy raised its ugly head and Facebook’s executives were quick to emphasise that Graph Search will be “privacy aware” and that the only results Graph Search will return are items of information that users could already see on Facebook and that privacy changes to any content displayed are instantly reflected.

The company emphasised the recent changes that Facebook had made to its privacy settings that allow users to control what is being seen and how one of those objectives was to highlight through the Activity Log how users can view content and photos that they are tagged in and request that it be removed.

The Social Network has uploaded the following video that it hopes will allay any fears users may have about Graph Search[youtube id=”bSji6Y66aKo” width=”600″ height=”350″]

The Vaunted No Show

What we didn’t see was the much vaunted and rumoured arrival of a ‘Facebook Phone’ which was still the number one favourite for this launch even though Mark Zuckerberg himself had said as far back as September that it was “so clearly the wrong strategy for us”.

Although they had said this about search previously too…….