Facebook hopes you’ll like its new search function

Ben Johnson and Praveen Sathianathan Oct 23, 2015
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Facebook hopes you’ll like its new search function

Ben Johnson and Praveen Sathianathan Oct 23, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In a quest to become a leading source of news, Facebook has unveiled a powerful new feature that will allow users to search the sites 2 trillion posts – including those made by people not on your friends list — for newsworthy content.

“Previously, you could search over things that your friends and your family had shared. But now you can actually search over all of the stories, perspectives, experiences that other people have shared publicly on Facebook,” said Tom Stocky, vice president of search at Facebook.

The posts will be organized first from top news sources such as ABC, then from people in your network. Next, a list of the most popular links will be aggregated, and then, finally, posts from strangers. With the expanded search features, users can join conversations across the social platform and stay up to date on topics that they are interested in.

“People come to Facebook every day, and they experience what’s in their news feed, so they see what’s happened in the last couple of days,” he said. “But what you can now do is for anything you are particularly interested in or maybe there is something trending in the world that you heard about. Now, you can dive into that and see what is the latest that’s happening about that one thing.”

With more than 1.5 billion searches every day through Facebook, other tech sites have wondered if this endeavor could challenge Google, the world’s most popular search engine, as well as Twitter, which has carved a niche for itself as a place to break news. Earlier this month, Twitter launched Moments, a curation tool that shows the “best” of the site.

Stocky said the search tool is optimized for real time and that the content found on the social media platform is unique and can’t be replicated on other social sites.

“The things that people share, they tend to share authentically from their voice. They share about what’s happening in their world, from their perspective, and these are the sorts of posts that do not exist anywhere else,” he said.

The new search rollout does have some concerned about privacy, but Stocky said Facebook makes every effort to inform users of how to control who views their posts..

“It’s really important to us that people understand, you know, the controls they do have for deciding what audience their posts can be seen by and understanding how that shows up in different places. So we have actually made a bunch of proactive efforts to let people know,” he said. “We even have it that if you are sharing publicly and you’ve decided you don’t want to do that, with a single button you can go back and change all of your previous posts to be friends only.”

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