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Facebook Answers Questions About New Graph Search, News Feed

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BOSTON (CBS) – Facebook is about to roll out a new look and new features soon.

Kate O’Neill, product manager at Facebook, talked to WBZ-TV about what you can expect.

What is the new graph search?

Kate O’Neill: Graph search is a whole new way to search on Facebook. You can look for people, places, photos, and interests. Things like music or TV shows or movies. And you can find information that’s totally personal to you and really based on your relationships. So, for example, if I was looking for job at CBS I could look for friends of my friends who work at CBS or even refine that to say friends of my friends who work at CBS and went to Boston College or went to Boston College and graduated in 2005. So that’s just a kind of example of the kind of personalized search that we are providing.

Who can use graph search?

O’Neill: Right now graph search is available to a small percentage of people that use Facebook in US English. So, if people are interested in signing up for graph search they can go to facebook.com/search and learn more about it and sign up right there [to join the waiting list]. Our intention and hope is to let as many people as possible in as soon as we can. At the same time we’re really iterating based on the feedback we are getting and improving the product. It’s a balance. Again, we’re trying to let as many people in as possible.

When will everyone be able to use graph search?

O’Neill: We don’t have a firm timeline right now.

Who is able to use the new news feed layout?

O’Neill: Everybody that’s using the new news feed has signed up using facebook.com/newsfeed. So, unlike graph search which is only available in English, right now news feed is available all over the world for the folks that have signed up.

For a very small percentage of people they’ve actually gotten the new news feed already and they are sort of the earliest users of the new news feed. The goal there is really to understand how are people using it. You’ll see, if you did indeed get the new news feed, there are actually a few opportunities to give feedback on the product which we are really listening to and taking into account as we refine it and roll it out further.

What about users who are resistant to some of these changes?

O’Neill: Right now, we are really in the very early stages of this roll out. For folks that want to take a little bit longer and aren’t ready to sign up yet they don’t have to be thinking about this within the next weeks, the next few weeks or anything like that. We don’t, again, have a firm timeline [for when everyone will be using the new features] because it really matters how people are using it, how people are finding it, and that really determines how we roll out. Again, it’s based on the feedback of people who use it.

Why make these changes?

O’Neill: It’s really easy to understand if you think about technology like car. You can’t just drive the same car for 10 years, you can, but at that point you’d probably want to get an update. So, with technology you really do need to modernize it and update it. And how we decide where those updates come, is actually based on feedback. So, search and a better way to search and find information and a de-cluttered, simpler news feed with more choices are actually two of the top user requested features on Facebook and that’s why we decided to tackle them.

Of course, some people will be resistant to the updates. We have a billion people who use our product and we are very fortunate to have people all over the world from all different ages. From people in Silicon Valley who use technology all the time to people who are less familiar. So, with that kind of diversity, of course, we expect a diversity of opinion and experience and we are really trying to listen to all of the different opinions and really bring people along. Provide lots of education, tours, and really help them familiarize themselves with the new experiences.

How long will someone have to wait to get the graph search feature after signing up for the wait list?

O’Neill: There are a lot of different factors. Can’t give you an exact number. The intention is to let people in as soon as possible, within weeks.

Are the rumors true that Facebook will be adopting a #hashtag similar to Twitter?

O’Neill: I saw this too. I’m really not sure. It’s not part of this update. It’s nothing we’ve announced. I honestly don’t know.

How do you get the most recent posts on your smartphone or tablet when using Facebook? Right now the posts seem to be in random order.

O’Neill: Actually, the new news feed is a really great way to see what updates you want in the order that you want. So, with this news feed update that I’m talking about you actually have a most recent feed where all of the posts that are shared with you are displayed in exactly the order they were posted. Again, this is everything that was shared with you so you never miss out on anything. For a lot of people that’s too much information but for those people that really want to see everything and just in the order it was posted now that’s really available in a more comprehensive and new way. Both on the web and on your mobile phone.

Anything you want to add about the new Facebook features?

O’Neill: We hope that people like these new features and we really looking forward to hearing feedback. And again, we encourage people to check them out at facebook.com/search and facebook.com/newsfeed.

Will everyone be able to use these new features by the end of the year?

O’Neill: I really hope so. Again, we are going to take it slow and just go one step at a time. The intention would be to get it out there. We are proud of these features. We made them for the people that use our service and we want them to get in their hands as quickly as possible.

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