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Facebook Graph Search and journalists: 'Like having a Rolodex of one billion sources'

Journalists should be able to use Facebook's new search tool as way to find sources and public photos connected to stories they are writing, according to the social network's 'Journalism Program Manager'.

Graph Search has been described by Facebook as a “new way to navigate content”  and was launched yesterday with limited 'beta' access. It is possible to sign up for the waiting list to use it here

Facebook + Journalists is a Facebook page providing resources for using Facebook as a journalistic tool.  

According to Facebook Journalism Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik the engine will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page, suggesting searches and storing the search options on a page that can later be customised. Lavrusik wrote: “Unlike web search, every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience based on privacy settings.”

According to Lavrusik, Graph Search will also make it easier for journalists to discover potential sources and public photos connected to the stories they are writing. The new search engine will, he said, enable journalists to learn about places and interests that are tied not only to friends, but also to public figures and pages.

Lavrusik wrote: “Because Graph Search is in early stages of development, the first version focuses on four main areas: people, photos, places and interests.”

Graph Search will enable journalists to do richer searches for experts, for instance by looking for specific companies or positions within them. The tool will also filter pictures posted within a specific location, which according to Lavrusik, will serve as a great tool during “breaking news” situations.

Lavrusik wrote: “During the 2012 London Olympics lots of people were sharing photos from the games. If you were a journalist covering the story, you would be able to do a custom search (i.e. 'photos taken at Olympic Park') to find photos uploaded within a specific area and reach out to potential sources and, if they provide permission, use their photos in your story.”

He added: “Journalists could use the interest-based searches to gain insights about trends.”

According to Lavrusik, Facebook search will be like having "a Rolodex of one billion sources".

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