Facebook Product Manager Kate O’Neill Discusses Graph Search, New News Feed With WBZ-TV

Facebook Product Manager Kate O’Neill spoke with Boston CBS affiliate WBZ-TV about new and revamped features recently introduced by the social network, including Graph Search and its redesigned News Feed.

O’Neill on Graph Search:

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.

Right now, Graph Search is available to a small percentage of people who use Facebook in U.S. 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. We don’t have a firm timeline right now.

O’Neill on News Feed:

Everybody who’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 people are 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.

Right now, we are really in the very early stages of this rollout. For folks who 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 week, the next few weeks, or anything like that. We don’t, again, have a firm timeline 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.

O’Neill on the reasons behind the changes and Facebook users who are unhappy about them:

It’s really easy to understand if you think about technology like cars. 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 1 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 of 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, (and to) provide lots of education, tours, and really help them familiarize themselves with the new experiences.

O’Neill was also asked about reports that Facebook would incorporate hashtags, and she replied:

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.

Readers: Have you signed up for or received access to Graph Search and the revamped News Feed?

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