Facebook Graph Search, the social network's natural language search engine, is maturing in a way that will help it live up to its original promise of freeing all past and present content from the confines of News Feed.
Starting Monday, the engine will enable people -- initially just a small group -- to search for status updates, photo captions, check-ins, and comments on Facebook.com. Previously, Graph Search has only allowed users to query around people, places, photos, and interests.
Graph Search, which has been ordained a "third pillar" product, is as core to Facebook as News Feed and Timeline. The natural language search experience was first introduced in January, but was only rolled out to people using US English in July. Its promise was a new but seemingly overdue dimension in social networking, one where every piece of content shared by you or with you, including items posted publicly, was accessible on your terms.
That promise is finally realized with the new release, which introduces post search for the first time and lets people go back in time to revisit their own past comments or status updates, see what friends are saying about topics of interest, or spy on the public updates shared at landmark venues. Altogether, Graph Search's expanded capabilities will provide much broader appeal to a complex product that has, up until now, required a lot of know-how on the part of users to do more than what they're accustomed to: searching for people to friend.
"Building the ability to search post and status updates was a significant engineering challenge that involved indexing over one trillion posts," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET.
The spokesperson said that Facebook, starting Monday afternoon, will roll out the new-and-improved Graph Search slowly to people and will listen to feedback. The product also remains desktop-only, meaning Graph Search isn't yet available to members on their smartphones where they're increasingly engaging with Facebook.
Still, with the release, the language of Graph Search becomes instantly more familiar to people who just want a simple way to go back in time. Satisfying this very basic need could go a long way in acclimating members to the unfamiliar qualities of Graph Search, and paves the way for the inevitable day when the company inserts ads into search.