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Facebook press event: Live blog

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Facebook is to hold a press event tonight (January 15, 6pm UK time) to unveil a mystery new product; join us live as we discover what founder Mark Zuckerberg has got up his sleeve.

As we wait for the event to start, please do check out our article on the
rumoured new Facebook products that could launch, including a smartphone, ad platform, search engine and revamped newsfeed.

Invite: Facebook Event 15th January

19:17And that is your lot. On the face of it, not a revolutionary announcement, but look a bit under the surface. Bear in mind Zuckerberg wants the site to become the conduit for all web discovery. Facebook has a network used by up to 1bn people - if it can get all those people to start searching for local restaurants, new jobs, new partners, photos and products on its network, just think how valuable that could be for advertisers. Let's just hope those big assurances about privacy prove true. Thanks for reading. We will be going hands on with Graph Search to see what it is like, so stay tuned to Digital Spy Tech.


19:13Zuckerberg says that Instagram integration will not be in the Graph Search beta, but they are working on it. Facebook bought the photo-sharing app for $730m last year.


19:11Good observation about Graph Search from CITEworld editorial director Matt Rosoff:




19:09Zuckerberg says that feedback from user testing has been "pretty positive" and they are looking forward to getting more from the beta.


19:06'People who like things I like' - Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search

© Facebook



19:06Another question on Google. Zuckerberg asked what Google was not willing to do to meet privacy concerns. He laughs nervously and says: "I am just wondering if we should get into this." He says that Microsoft was willing to do things the way Facebook wanted, but Google wasn't. He adds that this could be a "big seismic rift" between the two firms, or just where the talks fell down.


19:03Asked about resources. Says it was huge challenge to index all the Facebook data. They have no plans at the moment to twin Graph Search with voice search.


19:01Here is an image of Graph Search for photos:

Facebook Graph Search

© Facebook



19:01Zuckerberg asked about search partnership with Bing and why it was not Google. Zuckerberg laughs and then says: "I would love to work with Google." He says that he would work with any web search company as long as they "honour the privacy of Facebook users... and so far we have not be able to work that out."


18:59DS readers not too convinced by Facebook's Graph Search

andrewl18 says: "At least it's not yet another newsfeed revamp. I can see everyone's incredibly excited about the 'Graph Search' product (note sarcasm)... useful for businesses though. Just makes me want to leave Facebook even more to be honest!"

DanielF picks up on photo search section, says: "Oh, and 'Also interesting, you can search for photos of the Berlin Wall 1990 and it brings up a load of results. It's a bit like a huge searchable database of images, could be very significant going forward.' I've gone forward, it's amazing! https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=photos+of+the+Berlin+Wall+1990."

FreedomWarrior: "Facebook = Global database. You are all being profiled. Lemmings."


18:56Beta is low hundreds of thousands, says Zuckerberg.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about Facebook Graph Search at a Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.

© PA Images / Jeff Chiu/AP



18:55Asked about business opportunities for Graph Search, Zuckerberg says that it is not a business right now, but could develop into one over time. At the moment, they are just focusing on getting the experience right.


18:54Unsurprisingly, the first question is on privacy. They say that features like bulk untag are there for people to protect their privacy. Zuckerberg says that privacy is baked into the feature, and nothing is visible through Graph Search that was not visible before.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks about Facebook Graph Search at a Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.

© PA Images / Jeff Chiu/AP



18:51Zuckerberg says Graph Search is the kind of product that Facebook loves to build - it is a big engineering problem and a big social problem. Tom and Lars come on stage for Q&A.


18:50Limited beta of Graph Search will start today but will roll out "slowly", says Zuckerberg. Facebook wants to gather data on how people use the feature and then move forward gradually, but says it will get the product in more people's hands soon. Now playing a video promoting Graph Search soundtracked with a bit of Sigur Ros.


18:48Facebook has a partnership with Microsoft's search engine Bing. This means that Bing-powered search will come to Facebook. So you can search for websites and things like the weather. Zuckerberg says: "I don't think people are going to come to Facebook to do web searches, but this means people can find what they want through Facebook using a world class search engine."


18:46Back to Zuckerberg. Says Graph Search is a beta product and in its early days. Oh, wait, Zuckerberg has "one more thing" to show us.


18:44There are options to see which of your friends have visited certain countries, and then contact them for guides. So if you are going to Ireland you can say, "Which ones of my friends have been to Ireland?" Tom Stocky says the firm has upped its privacy tools to ensure people can only see what other people want them to see.


18:40Finally on to Places. This is all about finding places to go that have been liked by friends or people on Facebook. So you can type in "Indian restaurants in San Francisco that my friends like", or you can be more specific by saying "Indian restaurants in San Francisco liked by my Indian friends" (if you have any). Or you can say "Restaurants in San Fran liked by the Culinary Association of America members" to bring up the really top places.


18:35Back to Tom for interests. Can search "TV shows my friends like", and it brings up a range of options with pictures, displays also how many overall likes the content has and video clips. As this is about "finding new connections", you can search "TV shows software engineers like", or "TV shows doctors like" - doctors like Grey's Anatomy and Tom and Jerry apparently. "Music liked by people who like Mitt Romney" brings up Metallica and Pink Floyd, "Music liked by people who like Obama" brings up Michael Jackson and The Beatles. You can also search for terms like, "Who are my friends who speak French?"


18:32Here's a picture of Mark Zuckerberg on the big screen...and no, it's not The Social Network.

Facebook press event


18:31Also interesting, you can search for photos of the Berlin Wall 1990 and it brings up a load of results. It's a bit like a huge searchable database of images, could be very significant going forward.


18:30Lars Rasmussen now takes over to discuss photo search. Much more sophisticated photo search options. Can search for "photos of friends before 1990", brings up a cute one of chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Shows another picture of Tom Stocky with Carly Rae Jepsen holding a baby, presumably it's his.


18:28He says that it is also great for recruitment as recruiters and companies can search for things like "product manager" and a location. This is interesting, Facebook appears to be trying to harness its huge user and data base, and persuade people to use the social network for their needs, such as dating and finding new employees.


18:25Stocky says that Graph Search is "great for dating". Facebook is getting in the dating game! He says that you can search for friends of friends, who are single and then specify things like where they were born, and then see a list of results, including any mutual connections. Stocky is quick to say that people are only able to search for "what they can see already on Facebook".


18:22Lars Rasmussen and Tom Stocky on stage to discuss more on Graph Search. They say that the search is not keyword based, rather it provides results that are most relevant to the user. It is also not just about existing connections, but getting new connections. So if you went to a party and met someone who you know is friends with one of your Facebook friends, you can use Graph Search to find them. You can search "people named Chris, friends with Lars", and then refine on other bits of info, such as where they went to school.


18:17Zuckerberg sharing stories of him and his wife Priscilla as examples of using Graph Search. The couple like to go to restaurants, and so Mark searched for places his friends have liked in Palo Alto. Apparently he "found an interesting place and it was a good time".


18:15Ok, so this is essentially a search engine for Facebook. It allows users to more easily navigate all the data on their social network, such as "movies my friends like", "my friends from 2009", etc. Zuckerberg says Graph Search is in early development, and it focused in beta on "people, places, interests and photos".


18:11Zuckerberg says that web search and Graph Search are really different. If you search for hip-hop on the web, you will get lots of material, including links to artists, definitions, etc. Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and get a precise answer. Saying, "Who are my friends who live in San Francisco?" will bring the exact answer.


18:09So, we are getting a new search product today called Graph Search. Zuckerberg says there are 1bn people on Facebook who have posted 240bn photos and made a trillion connections. Bringing all this together is a really hard challenge, he says, particularly as Facebook has to worry about privacy and who is allowed to see what.


18:07Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on stage. Guess what, he is wearing a hoodie and jeans! He says that Facebook is about connecting people. The three pillars of the Facebook product ecosystem are - Newsfeed, Timeline and Graph Search. Today, Zuckerberg is going to talk about Search.


18:02Just before we start, a note on the podium says: "This Journey 1% finished." Not sure whether to be excited or terrified by that statement...


18:01Here's a snap from the venue. Almost ready to start.

Facebook press event


17:56Just tested the microphone on the podium with a classic "one-two". Was kinda hoping for a "Hello Cleveland!!"


17:53So here we are at Facebook's recently opened London engineering hub. It's a pretty nice open plan space with a big screen for the presentation. Lots of sofas, looks a bit like someone's front room ...albeit someone rather wealthy.

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