Facebook unveils shared search tool
Facebook has unveiled a new search service for its users which is designed to make it easier to find content that has been shared with them on the social network
In the first major product announcement since the network went public, founder Mark Zuckerberg said Graph Search would be available in a limited "beta" or test mode preview to users and would initially allow them to search for photographs, people, places and members' interests.
The first version would allow people to search, for example, friends who live in a particular city, share interests or have visited a specific place. Photographs a user has liked, or taken before a certain date, could also be subject to search.
In a post on its site, Facebook said Graph Search was a new way for Facebook users to find people, photos, places and interests most relevant to them.
Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook was not indexing the web, but indexing “our map of the graph”, adding that it was “very, very different“ to web searching.
The network recorded more than one billion active monthly users in October 2012, with 81 per cent outside the US and Canada. Almost half a billion users logged on to the site each day in September last year, and its mobile products attract more than 600 million monthly users.
Addressing some of the inevitable concerns over privacy, Mr Zuckerberg said the new search facility would respect the privacy settings specified by users.
Shares in Facebook fell immediately after the announcement.
Speculation had been rife in recent days about Facebook's plans, with rumours that the company was planning to release a Facebook phone, revamp its timeline or unveil a new messaging app for the iPad. There was also talk of a paid-for messaging system, sparked after it was discovered the network was trialling a system that required users to pay to send messages to certain high-profile executives. Mark Zuckerberg would cost $100 to message, according to reports.
Speaking to reporters at its Menlo Park, California headquarters, Mr Zuckerberg showed how the service can be used by recruiters to find potential hires, as well as by Facebook members for discovering people to date.
Zuckerberg is adding services to step up revenue growth and shake off the concerns that the company doesn't know how to make money from its user base.
The company is still in the early stages of generating revenue from ads placed on mobile devices.
But questions have already arisen over how the new tool will really affect Facebook users’ privacy.
Facebook is insisting the feature will include an opt-out option to keep user’s content out of searches.
Chris Edwards, an electronics correspondent for Engineering and Technology magazine, said: “People don’t really think about privacy and what they are uploading until they see stories about abuses.
“But if you look at some of the features available on Facebook, it’s almost like a stalkers' tool kit.”
Asked whether Graph Search would be competing for market share with Google’s search engine, Edwards said: “Facebook really need people to comply for this new feature to work.
“The difficulty they face is that Google already provides easy access to information that people want to be found, whereas with Graph Search some users may want to conceal information.”
Elsewhere in tech stocks, shares in Apple fell further towards $485 amid speculation over a fall in orders for the iPhone 5.
Dell stock rallied again, following a 13 per cent surge yesterday, following speculation over a potential buyout of the company.
Additional reporting: Agencies