Facebook Search

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The Head of Facebook search is a the little known Tom Stocky. At least outside of Menlo Park, California, where Facebook is headquartered, he is just another well-paid tech worker. But he wants to change all that with Facebook Search. If things go according to plan, Facebook Search is going to be bigger than Google Search and Twitter combined.

Facebook Search
                                                                                                                                                    Photo: search.fb

Since last October, Facebook Search, the box you see at the top of the Facebook page when you open Facebook, has undergone several modifications to try and change how users of Facebook use the search function. For now, when we do a Facebook search, we most of time just type the name of a friend to see if they are on Facebook. Or if we are looking for a particular Facebook page we may want to join.

The numbers should favor a revamped Facebook Search. As at the last quarter of last year, there were over 1.5 billion active users of Facebook monthly. With those figures, It would not take much stretch of the imagination to imagine the number of Facebook searches done daily. We are talking over 1.5 billion searches a day. That is one huge stats no matter how you look at it.

Facebook search
photo: hdtvlounge.net

That is why Tom Stocky feels he has a very good case of making Facebook search the number one search engine for at least the 1.5 billion people who use Facebook. But first he has to change our attitude to how we use Facebook search. The first thing the Facebook search team want people to understand is that they can now search for anything using Facebook search. Not just friends and places or pages. What Stocky and his team are doing is to develop an algorithm (or a workable system) that would leverage on all the posts of Facebook users around the world to rank, arrange and refine them into

-how important the posts are

-whether the posts are trending at the moment and

-Individual Facebook posts.

Here is what Tom Stocky said on the new Facebook search:

“When a link gets shared widely on Facebook, it often anchors an interesting public conversation.”Now there’s a new way to quickly dive into that discussion. With one tap, you can find public posts about a link, see popular quotes and phrases mentioned in these posts, and check out an aggregate overview of sentiment.” 

Facebook search
                                      photo: blogigo.com

So, what are the implications of an effective search tool on Facebook? Let’s face it, I am not sure I want some random person being able to read my posts anytime they do Facebook search and my posts happens to contain the keywords they typed in. To prevent that, the thing to do is to rush to your privacy settings and make sure your posts are seen by only friends. In theory it would work. But the reality is, what if your friends share your posts to their own friends who share it to others and on and on… That is how an innocent private post can go viral and become public.

However, some clever folks might easily take advantage of the new Facebook search. They could write clever and creative posts designed to reach lots of people. A stunt like this if it becomes popular can turn Facebook into a kind of Twitter but with 1.5 billion people ( and still growing) as the potential audience. Far more than just the 300 million on Twitter.

So Facebook search in a way could be a bigger and more vibrant Twitter. And for now, a smaller version of Google search that is very personal and dominated by what your friends are posting online. There is still a long way to go though before Facebook search becomes a high profile search engine. Tom Stocky and his team know that. And they are working hard to get there.