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Facebook unveils new search tool (week in review)

Social network puts its faith in Graph Search, and the Internet mourns the passing of a Web activist. Also: Java flaw fixed -- or was it?

He who controls the graph, controls the world. James Martin/CNET

Facebook unveiled a new tool this week it touts as helping find people, photos, places, and interests that are most relevant to Facebook users.

Graph Search is the social network's newest way for users to make sense of its massive base of 1 billion users, 240 billion photos, and 1 trillion connections. The tool is meant to provide people the answers to their questions about people, photos, places, and interests. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Graph Search is launching to a small number of people and is available only on the desktop and in English for the time being.

People can use the structured search tool to resurface old memories, find people in their network, and uncover potential connections. The service incorporates various filters such as "place type," "liked by," and "visited by friends" to make locating things faster. You can refine search queries with more advance filters to get better answers.

Graph Search is so significant in scope and purpose that Zuckerberg anointed the product a "third pillar," which makes it as core to Facebook as Timeline and News Feed. The status also makes Facebook's decision to release an unfinished product quite curious. Lest Zuck forget, the company now has investor expectations to live up to.

The puzzling decision is actually an easily decipherable message that reads like this: Facebook intends to hold true to its risk-taking, ship-early-and-ship-often "Hacker Way" mentality.
•  Facebook might make money from its search tool, analysts say
•  How to sign up for Facebook's Graph Search beta
•  Why Facebook doesn't need its own phone

More headlines

Internet activist Aaron Swartz commits suicide

The 26-year-old hacker and information activist had faced charges for his alleged role in making MIT academic journal articles public.
•  Tech VIPs, family take to Web with sorrow, anger over Swartz
•  MIT to conduct internal probe in wake of Aaron Swartz's suicide
•  U.S. Attorney defends office's conduct in Aaron Swartz case
•  Prosecutor in Aaron Swartz 'hacking' case comes under fire
•  Anonymous hacks MIT after Aaron Swartz's suicide
•  Researchers honor Swartz's memory with PDF protest

Oracle releases software update to fix Java vulnerability

Emergency software update repairs vulnerability that could allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code.
•  Homeland Security still advises disabling Java, even after update

FAA grounds Boeing's 787 Dreamliner after battery fires

Action comes after two Japanese carriers parked their 787s following a battery fire.
•  FAA seeks to ban pilots' use of personal devices while in the air

Reality check time: Instagram A-OK with 90M monthly active users

Instagram reports monthly active users for the first time and shows that it's doing just fine after December's privacy scandal.

Apple reportedly cuts iPhone screen orders on weak demand

The Cupertino-based tech giant cut orders of the iPhone 5 screens by roughly 50 percent last month, a possible sign of sagging demand, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.
•  iPhone 5 demand got you worried? Relax, analysts say
•  iPhone market share to peak at 22 percent?
•  In iPhone vs. Galaxy battle, Apple still way on top
•  iPhone 5S, low-cost iPhone 5 to debut this summer, analyst says
•  Ex-CEO Sculley says Apple needs to focus on cheaper iPhone

White House raises petition signature threshold to 100K

We the People platform quadruples the number of signatures required on petitions before they merit the Obama Administration's attention.
•  The Empire gloats over White House Death Star petition

Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend was born and died on social media

The hoax about the death of the famous football player's girlfriend was wholly constructed on the Internet, but it was those same online tools that left a trail and revealed the truth.

Nintendo's Wii gets Amazon Instant Video

Playing catch-up with Wii U, Nintendo's older gaming console now gets the video-streaming service.
•  How to set up Amazon Instant Video on the Nintendo Wii

A connection between video games and real-world violence?

commentary The Obama administration is asking for another look at the effect of fantasy violence. Let's hope we can tell the difference between what's distasteful and what's dangerous.

Also of note
•  NRA targets iPhone with shooting game
•  Yelp dishes out restaurant inspection data in SF and NY