Facebook is about to launch personal ads. Google already targets advertising to personal, search queries and a website’s content. Both approaches are in the early stages of utilizing a social graph.
A social graph takes into account how people are interconnected. Similar in concept of how Google’s PageRank algorithm takes into account how websites are interconnected. This can also be used to predict a person’s tendencies, trends in culture, consumer wants, even the state of the economy. As always, this sort of knowledge is power.
Are you scared yet? Google takes into account your searches and data from all your Google application accounts — AdWords, AdSense, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Orkut, Web Search, YouTube — and data mines the information for relevant ads. By utilizing your connections with others, especially via Gmail, Google Calendar, Orkut, Web Search, and YouTube, it can formulate a social graph. These connections can be in the form of calendar meetings, contacts, comments, tags, etc.
MySpace has yet to take full advantage of their large storehouses of data. While their data is less organized and structured than Facebook, MySpace has a considerably, larger user base. Their partnership with Google may soon lead to more structured and organized data. Google will increasingly want more access to MySpace’s valuable data, as this will add to their continually, growing arsenal and improve the effectiveness of their social graph.
Facebook’s social graph is an enormously valuable asset. In fact, it might have more information at its disposal than any other social network. Their social graph becomes even more valuable because of Facebook’s Platform, F8, — where other applications can be built for Facebook, like applications can be built for operating systems.
The obvious next step of the social graph is to combine these existing datasets with genealogy and DNA social networking trees. This would better allow prediction for disease and cures across demographics. This could also lead to misuse by insurance companies, the Olympics, and other institutions. Obviously, there will be privacy, ethical, and moral issues that will have to be dealt with.
If you would like to learn more about social graphs, here are a few additional resources:
- Thoughts on the Social Graph – Brad Fitzpatrick, David Recordon.
- Social Graph & Privacy – Ross Mayfield.
- Opening up the Social Graph – Jyri Engeström