Photo: Owen Thomas, Business Insider
Amid all the hooplah about Facebook’s new search engine, which is indeed exciting, one thing has been overlooked:The product’s terrible name.
Facebook’s new search engine, you might have heard by now, is called “Graph Search.”
Unless you work at Facebook or in Silicon Valley, which most of Facebook’s one billion users don’t, you can be forgiven for being confused about why Facebook called the product “Graph Search.”
Because, although “Graph” is a term that is common in the techo-chamber, especially among social media types, it’s a term that is almost never used in this context anywhere else.
What “graph” refers to is the so-called “social graph”–all of the people who are your “friends” or “followers” on Facebook and other social networks. Everyone has a social graph and is a member of other social graphs. And tech gurus love to extol the data and money-making possibilities of unlocking the “social graph.”
But no one outside the techo-chamber has any clue what the “social graph” is.
And they certainly don’t care about it.
So, by calling its new search engine “Graph Search,” Facebook has likely needlessly confused about 999 million of its users.
What should Facebook have called the product instead?
That’s how everyone will think about it, regardless of what Facebook wants them to think. And that’s how people will distinguish Facebook Search from “Google Search” or just plain “Search,” which are the terms everyone uses to describe search everywhere else.
In other words, in naming this product, in an uncharacteristic mistake, Facebook forgot who its service is actually for.
This mistake is uncharacteristic because one of Mark Zuckerberg’s innate skills has always been making (and naming) products in a way that makes them immediately appeal to regular people, not just tech-folk.
So it’s strange that Mark would sign off on the name for a big new product that is likely to mystify 99.9% of his users.