Facebook’s mystery press event revealed on Tuesday a robust search feature that may intensify competition between the social networking giant and its rival Google Inc.
The social network announced “Graph Search” Tuesday with hopes of making its users more connected than ever.
The Facebook search engine will allow users to search for things such as content that has been shared with them, or connections to new friends.
“Graph Search and web search are very different,” read a press release from Facebook. “Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook. We believe they have very different uses.”
The first version of Graph Search will concentrate on people, photos, places and interests.
Users can search in full sentences for things like “photos of my friends taken in 2009,” or “restaurants in Toronto” to see results that have been collected based on their friends profiles, places and likes.
Zuckerberg says the search feature is “privacy aware,” which means users can only search for content that has been shared with them.
Facebook was quick to dispel any worries of privacy conflict in its press release regarding Graph Search.
“Another big difference from web search is that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience, and most content isn’t public. We’ve built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook. It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook,” read the press release.
Facebook is stressing that graph search will be made available to users very slowly, beginning Tuesday. Though the company has focused on refining its mobile product for much of last year, the search feature will only be available on Facebook’s website for now.
Zuckerberg hinted last fall that a search feature was in the works in his first post-IPO public interview.
Facebook’s stock slid 50 cents to $30.45 following the announcement. It’s still down nearly 20 per cent from its IPO price of $38.
– With files from The Associated Press