Greetings, Facebook users! Which, statistically speaking, is most of you, if not all of you. Depending on how long you’ve been on Facebook, you likely know that the site is never sitting still. It’s constantly redesigning, rearranging, altering its user terms (particularly its privacy terms), and adding and deleting feature after feature. Well, recently, one of the most useful features has been added, taken away, put back, moved around… generally leaving many users scratching their heads as to if it’s still accessible and if not, how to make do without it. I’m referring to the Advanced Search.
Below, we’ll talk about Advanced Search, and the easy way to gain access to this really helpful function which can really go a long way toward helping you make the most out of your Facebook experience.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. — Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
Addendum: Facebook Safety Check
Edit: Between the times when I began this article and published it, the tragic events in Paris which left (according to some estimates) over 127 people dead occurred. In light of this international tragedy, a guide for searching for new acquaintances on Facebook seems almost frivolous. Granted, this frivolity only becomes apparent when the event is mentioned in order to invite comparison (as I have now done), so I could have easily just passed the article through without a second thought. However, Facebook has responded to this tragedy in a way which is very relevant to the act of finding friends. This information has been (briefly) incorporated into the body of the article, for the use of those who may have loved ones in the Paris area that they still haven’t heard from. The discussion of Facebook’s Advanced Search function will continue below. Thank you.
If you are only a casual Facebook user, then you may not be aware of Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature. Essentially, after devastating events (usually natural disasters) Facebook enables a specific search function that allows users to check on any of their Facebook friends or acquaintances that may be in the affected area. Using geolocation (which may include user-posted check-ins and location sharing, as well as GPS features on mobile devices that have allowed this usage), Facebook will check for users who live in the area, or who may be traveling through. This last one is very important, as you may well know when you have a friend who permanently lives in a specific area (I have friends and family in southern Louisiana, so I know to check in with them whenever there’s another hurricane) but since you likely don’t know the full travel plans of all of your friends all the time, there can always be that gnawing fear that there may be someone affected by the events in question.
Once Facebook has identified users who may potentially be in the affected area, it sends them a notification, asking them to “check in,” thus informing their friends that yes, they are indeed safe.
From Facebook’s Safety Check page
If you are not in the affected area, but are worried that you have friends that might, there is a simple way to check: In Facebook, simply type in the Facebook search bar “Safety Check.”
Make sure you follow up on the one that’s just attributed to “Facebook,” Not an app, not a group, etc…
Once on the Safety Check page, Facebook will check to see if any of your friends have been in the affected area.
Pictured: Good news for this particular user.
This isn’t an automatic feature that is always on. Someone at the Facebook offices has to manually configure this whenever there’s a world event which may require it. In the past, this has always been in reaction to some natural disaster.
Note that even the Facebook announcement of this feature indicated it was for natural disasters.
However, I’m sure there are a lot of people all over the world who are sleeping better since Facebook opted to activate it in this instance.
If you haven’t yet already, please take a moment to visit the “Safety Check” portion of your own Facebook, in order to see if any of your friends may be in the area.
Thank you for your patience in the above. The remainder below is the article as originally written, minus the jokes. Thank you for your time and attention.
Facebook Advanced Search
When we talk about Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and the like, the phrase that keeps coming back is “social media.” But with Facebook, more and more, there’s a sense that that term isn’t entirely accurate. It’s not that Facebook isn’t a kind of social media, rather it’s that Facebook has become our defining notion of SOCIAL MEDIA. It’s not a kind of anything except itself. Facebook is the social media par excellence, and all other platforms are, in some corner of our mind, imitators.
Now, before you rush to the comments, let me say that I know that isn’t entirely true. It’s just a perception that we don’t even necessarily believe, but nonetheless persists in our minds. And I’m not saying it’s necessarily true of everybody, but for the vast majority, Facebook is the Grand Central Station of social media, and all other forms are judged by if they do anything you can’t already do through Facebook, and if they do, how well they will integrate with it.
And while millions of people every day return time and again to the Facebook experience, ultimately, your Facebook experience depends entirely on who you are friends with. Are all of your friends shallow acquaintances that you barely know? Then you might have a hard time caring about what they’re posting (or even, as a result, where they are posting it). But do you use Facebook to keep up with people that you just can’t be near anymore? Or to find people that you regret having lost touch with over the years? Now you’re getting to a point where Facebook is a more positive part of your lives.
So, it all hinges on your friends, and there are (of course) a variety of ways to find friends: The Facebook mobile apps can sync with your contacts to find who that you already know is a member. You can give Facebook access to your email address books and find friends that way. Or you can just wait for your friends to find you, one by one.
But of course, I’m leaving out one of the most prominent ways to find Facebook friends, and that is to search for them. However, sometimes just searching for the name isn’t going to be enough. Sure, if your friend is named Alouisious P. Banjojuggler, you’re probably going to have good luck finding him. But what about John Smith, or your friend Mary… you heard she got married and is living in Portland now, but darned if you ever learned her new last name.
Sure, you can search for “John Smith,” but after you do that, you’re going to spend the better part of the day staring at thumbnails, trying to figure out which specific John Smith is the John Smith you knew in high school. And that’s assuming that his profile picture is a picture of him, as opposed to a picture of his dog, or his new baby, or anything that isn’t just his mug staring at the camera.
For this, you need advanced search. And after this feature was rolled out, it was possible to request more detailed searching options through the dropdown menu of suggestions. But Facebook, ever changing itself, has taken this feature away, or moved it, or hidden it… in any event, it’s not where it used to be.
I have, however, found a function within Facebook’s site which will allow you to do pretty much what the Advanced Search option did, even if it doesn’t quite have the same functionality.
Getting to it is a little involved:
- Go to Facebook
- Click on your own name/profile picture to get to your Facebook profile
- On your Facebook profile, click the “Friends” tab.
- On the “Friends” tab, you will see a button for you to manage your “Friend Requests.” Go here.
Alternately, you can just use this link/URL, which will take you to the same page. (But I thought you’d appreciate the directions nonetheless):
Once there, on the right side of the screen (next to all of your un-responded to friend requests), there is a dialogue box that says “Search for Friends.” Welcome to the new home of the Facebook advanced search, because this is search for friends, not search within friends, it’s set up so you can find new friends with very specific criteria. What all do you know for the person you are looking for? Here are the criteria you can search with:
- Name (whatever you know)
- Current City
- High School
- Mutual Friend
- College or University
- Graduate School
You can use as many or as few of these criteria as you want. Some of these categories will also let you use multiple terms: for instance, you can put in multiple “mutual friends” to see who out there is friends with your sister, your best friend from kindergarten, and your therapist all at the same time.
Unfortunately, Facebook will only show the top 16 results. I’ve played with it in order to see more, but the only way I can find to do this is to refine the search a little more.
Nonetheless, this gives you a lot more control in finding those people you’ve lost touch with, and making your Facebook friend-sphere much more reflective of the people you want in your life.
If you have any other tips for managing this system, any workarounds that have eluded us, or any questions about anything that we’ve covered, please mention it in the comments.