Facebook’s Graph Search is supposed to be a wide-ranging discovery tool to make the site a source of information about people, places, and things, but until recently, it’s been way more effective at helping users find Game of Thrones‘ Wikipedia page than it has been at helping us find out what friends and other users have posted about the Red Wedding. But Facebook is moving forward with Graph Search and making it better at honing in on what users are saying.
Facebook expanded its Graph Search to include posts and status updates, which means everything you’ve been posting is way easier to find than ever before. This expanded search is only available to a select test group, so you probably won’t be able to use it quite yet, but it will eventually roll out on a wider scale and likely prompt a ton of annoying complaints in your News Feed.
Here’s what you need to know about the changes:
You can now search for what your friends and other users are posting about a certain topic
This topic-specific search pulls up instances where your friends or the general Facebook population use whatever term you’re searching for, so it’s helpful for following discussions about pop-culture events — something valuable to Facebook as it attempts to convince broadcasters that it’s an online destination for real-time chatter to rival Twitter. It’s still not as good as Twitter for discovery, but this is a step in the right direction.
Since most people on Facebook aren’t using hashtags to append their Breaking Bad rants, now you can look up posts by topic – i.e., “my .friends talking about Breaking Bad.”
You can now search based on location or time
If you want to see what one of your friends was posting about a year ago today, or you’re interested in seeing how people in Washington, D.C. are handling the government shutdown, there’s also an option to look at posts and updates based on location or when they went up.
You can dive into your possibly embarrassing posting history
Instead of scrolling down and down and down into the depths of your Facebook until you hit that dubious stretch of time when you were a senior in college and got really into documenting your kegstand frequency, now you can easily pull up long-buried posts. Which brings us to the most important thing you really need to know …
It’s time to change your privacy settings (again)
This expanded Graph Search makes it really easy for friends to look up stuff you posted a while ago, and it also makes it simple for other users to see what you’ve posted publicly. Unless, of course, you go into your Privacy Settings and set it so only your friends can find stuff you’ve posted. While you might want to make status updates public if you want a wider audience, keeping the majority of your Facebook posts confined to a smaller circle is a wise idea. Basically, once again, it’s a good time to review who sees what.
To use Graph Search at all, make sure your language is set to English (US)
If you’ve been amusing yourself by using pirate language this whole time, you might be wondering what Graph Search is. Although the Post and Status functions are only available to a select few, Graph Search is currently available to all users writing in English (US), so adjust your settings accordingly if you want to use it at all.