Facebook Announces Major New Search Features for Unearthing Photos


Facebook summoned a group of tech journalists to its Menlo Park headquarters this morning to unveil the latest products its legions of programmers have been hard at work building. The major announcement was a new search engine called “Graph Search,” which will allow users to run extremely powerful search queries on the social networks database of 1 billion members, 1 trillion social connections, and 240 billion photos.


The service’s unique dataset will allow for customizable queries that would be difficult (or impossible) for competing photo sharing services to offer.

Basic photo search queries might be based around location. Tell the service to find “Photos of my friends taken in San Francisco, California,” and that exact set of photos will pop up. A query that is a little more general — but still location-based — would be something like “Photos of my friends taken in national parks.”


Resulting photos will be ranked based on quality, which is calculated using likes, comments, and other analytics (possibly views?).

You’ll be able to run a query based on date. Search for “Photos of my friends before 1990,” and you’ll be taken back in time to when all your loved ones are at least 20 years younger.

Google Image search can already do photo searches based on keywords, but Facebook’s is a bit different in that it will only search through images that have been shared with you by your connections.

Facebook is finally leveraging its massive social network to deliver a photo experience that other services can’t really match, but we’ll likely soon be seeing similar features propagating all across the photo sharing world.

Image credit: Photograph by Ariel Zambelich/Wired