For some, the very idea of a Facebook Search Engine is unsettling. After all, Facebook has already drawn severe criticism from privacy watchdogs for its handling of sensitive user data, do we really want Facebook to become more entangled in our daily lives?
Over the past 2-3months, it’s also become evident that Facebook is working on its own search engine. In fact, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in September, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said with regards to a Facebook search engine:
“At some point we’ll do it. We have a team working on it”.
Why A Facebook Search Engine?
from the search engine dominance it has enjoyed for a decade? After all, Microsoft and Yahoo tried to do it with Bing, but even after 5 billion dollars, they still haven’t been able to capture more than 16% market share.
According to Zuckerberg however, Facebook has absolutely no interest in competing head to head with Google (and wisely so). When it comes to looking up any kind of information, finding websites, tracking news etc., Zuckerberg admits that Google does an incredibly efficient job. But when it comes to subjective user questions – “what’s the best Indian restaurant in the city” for example – Google isn’t necessarily best suited to answer these questions. At the same time, billions of us use Google everyday for this exact reason. Because it’s the best solution out there right now, we continue to ask Google: Where can I get a great haircut? What exciting things are there to do in the city tonight? What would be the best place for a romantic getaway?
A New Type Of Socially Driven Search
When we make these queries in Google, we get a list of results with perhaps a review, a few news articles, and maybe a few local business websites. While this is all useful information, is this really what we’re looking for when we’re asking what’s the best Indian restaurant in the city? Do we really want a list of results determined largely by the strength of a webpage’s backlinks? No, what we’re really looking for is a handful of strong recommendations tailored to our tastes.
The only company with the potential to build a search engine that could deliver real answers to these types of subjective queries is Facebook. With 1 billion users and counting, Facebook has the largest database of our likes, interests, relationships, hobbies, and habits etc. ever created. What if – instead of getting a list of results ordered mostly on the popularity/SEO budget of a webpage – we could get answers to our subjective questions which took into account the tastes, interests, and likes of other people like us? What if your search engine took into account the recommendations of our peers?
While it will be extremely challenging to create a social search engine capable of parsing through Facebook’s billions of social data points – likes, comments, status updates, relationships, networks, interests, photos, tags, and much more – and presenting them in a way that has real world relevance, if any company is in a position to do this, it’s Facebook.
Even Google has tried to leverage the power of social networks to deliver more relevant search results. In fact, that’s exactly what they did with Search Plus Your world, which customizes Google search result pages for Google+ users. But because Google+ lacks a comprehensive, highly engaged user base, Search Plus Your World has had minimal impact on Google results. But Facebook – with its billion users – has the power to eventually revolutionize the way we get answers to subjective queries.
About The Author:
Nat is an SEO and blogger for WhoIsHostingThis. Nat writes primarily about search engine marketing and social media.