Facebook: It's a Search Engine!

Jan 15, 2013

Facebook put speculators out of their misery nearly a week after inviting members of the press to "come see what we're building" by finally letting everyone in on the secret at today's event. And as it turns out, some of the prognosticators turned out to be right: it's a search engine. Mark Milian liveblogged the event for Bloomberg.com. He wrote:

"10:16 a.m. The search engine is called Graph Search. Lars Rasmussen, a Google Maps co-founder, worked on it. (Bloomberg Businessweek broke that news almost a year ago.) 'I want to emphasize how early we are in Graph Search,' Zuckerberg said. The initial version will cover content about people, photos, places and interests, he said. 'These cases are really useful.'"

CEO Mark Zuckerberg seemed eager to assure reporters that this wasn't your run of the mill search application -- that it would be different than just using the existing search box or heading over to Google. It seems to have taken a few examples for the crowd to get the idea. Milian wrote:

"10:25 a.m. OK, this is starting to make sense. Let's say you meet someone at a party, and can't remember her name, but you know some other details. Search for, say, 'people who are friends of Lars and went to Stanford.'"

The Facebook team also addressed the privacy issue, but as usual it falls to users to tinker with their privacy settings to make sure the information they don't want shared won't show up in searches. Other details about Graph Search: searches will also include Bing! results; for now, only English-language searches are possible; it is designed to handle natural-language queries. But Zuckerberg was also very clear that this is a work in progress that he expects his team will be working on for years to come.