Facebook’s Entity Graph

in Facebook, Social | by Jon-Paul Raymond | 0 28.02.2013
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Facebook Entity Graph

“The entity graph we’re building will enable products and user experiences that have never been possible before.”

The above quote taken from a Software Engineer, Development Platform position opening points to a Facebook “graph” not quite as well known as their social graph. It’s called entity graph.

By definition,an entity is something that exists by itself, although it need not be of material existence.” With regard to entities, Mitu Singh, Product Manager for Facebook’s Entities Team says that, “We’re trying to map what the real world looks like onto Facebook so you can run really expressive and powerful queries,”

Everyone knows that at the moment, doing a Facebook search is nothing like a Google query. The results Facebook returns have no where near the neatness in presentation and are the queries are far limited in their ability to specify exactly what you want. Facebook wants to change that though. Not only when it comes to friends, but places as well. Hence their desire to build an entity graph.

Entity graph differs from the social graph used in Facebook’s Graph Search in the sense that the social graph maps people and how they’re connected. The entity graph can be said to be a global mapping of places and things in relation to one another. For instance Facebook knows that IBM and International Business Machines are one in the same, but there may be acronyms used by certain social groups that Facebook does not currently connect to “IBM”.

Facebook has already established a fairly good foundation for their entity graph database by using data from sources such as Wikipedia. Of course though, the social aspects (such as special names or acronyms used by certain social circles, etc) aren’t contained in the more formal sources online, and Facebook wants user to assist.

Facebook has a number of ways in which they’re going about this to make their new search features more rich and appealing to Facebook users. If you’ve ever entered a location on a Post and it was never visited before, you’ll notice that Facebook gives you a chance to input what you know about the location. From business hours, numbers and more. It’s that sort of data that is assisting Facebook in building its entity graph.

Facebook has competition in this. None other than Google, who also has their Knowledge Graph, which is also gathering data about entities and builds relationships between them.

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