Nearly two years later, Facebook Graph Search comes to mobile

The world's largest social network extends the capabilities of its search feature from desktop computers to mobile devices. But will it make a difference?

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read

Facebook's search technology is coming to mobile devices this week. Facebook

Facebook's search is going mobile.

The social network said Monday it's going to make its "graph search" technology available over the next week for the Facebook iPhone app, nearly two years after it debuted for desktop computers.

Users will be able to search inside posts of their friends, allowing them to easily find items like wedding photos or a special trip.

"You've told us the most important thing is being able to find posts you've seen before, and now you can," wrote Tom Stocky, vice president of search at Facebook, in a blog post.

Search has become one of the most crucial technologies in Silicon Valley. Not only is it central to Google's business, for example, but it's also become a key technology in many services such as Apple's Siri digital assistant, LinkedIn's professional network and Twitter's messaging service. For Facebook, the inclusion of Graph Search gives users a way to interact with its service even more while on their mobile devices.

Facebook announced graph search in January of 2013, calling it a key technology for the future and a potential new business over time. The technology allowed users to tap into the vast stores of information in Facebook's databases with queries such as "College classmates who like Coldplay and X-Men movies and live in San Francisco."

But the promise was grander than the delivery. In practice, graph search was complex. The way it worked didn't always make sense, and it turns out that pulling together all the information about a user from Facebook's many databases proved difficult, the company said a year after the launch in an interview with BloombergBusinessweek.

That hasn't deterred the company from moving forward though. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he believes search, as well as the company's Instagram photo messaging service and WhatsApp messaging program, will reach 1 billion people within the next five years. "Once we get to that scale, then we think that they will start to become meaningful businesses in their own right," he said in an October conference call.