Did Facebook just kill every start-up in the social discovery space?

I’ll be honest. I had no idea what Facebook social graph was until I actually used it. I was seriously skeptical about it’s potential, but I suspect that I was looking at it purely from a advertisers perspective (which is already available and has been for years) and not an end users perspective.

So, I’ve started tinkering with it and it’s simply awesome. Let me give you some examples:

  • Restaurants in London, United Kingdom my friends like – Ummm, yes. Gimme more!
  • My friends who like Triathlons – Need a training partner? Job done.
  • Music my friends like – Never heard of the band ‘Save the Clocktower’ until I just found out a bunch of my friends liked it

Social discovery is predicated on one large assumption – I buy and do things my friends like to buy and do. Which is predicated on three things:

  1. There is a collection of every thing my friends like to do
  2. There is a way of me accessing this collection
  3. I have a mechanism to find this information easily (search)

Where Facebook lacks is that number 1 isn’t fully collected yet (for example, I don’t put that I “like” triathlons in my profile), people put security preferences around their likes (for example, I just hid all of my likes for privacy reasons), but now number 3 is no longer an issue. With number 3 being eliminated, people may be more inclined to bolster number 1 and 2. Number 1 and 2 are not technical issues, the foundation is there, they simply don’t exist fully yet because of user motivation. I suspect the introduction to number 3 may give way to motivating people to share more about what they like and opening up my security.

Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting all discovery sites are dead, just the ones who rely solely on connected friendships. For example, I love Hypem, which is largest based on music curation via crowdsourcing blogs. There is a social element (“friends!”), but I’m more concerned with finding new music that is curated through people who live and bleed music.