Clad in his uniform of hoodie and jeans, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stood before hundreds of reporters and bloggers on Tuesday to announce the social network giant's new comprehensive search function
"Graph Search," contained in a large bar at the top of the page, will allow users to search specific, private information Facebook friends have shared with them.
Zuckerberg used examples to show how users can do searches. Searching "my friends who live in Palo Alto, Calif., and like 'Game of Thrones,'" for instance, pulled up top users who live in that area and have posted about the television show or "Liked" it on Facebook. Similarly, searching "Photos of me and Priscilla Chan" pulled up photos of Zuckerberg and his wife.
There are also filters to fill out the search if desired results aren't pulled up, such as location, age, or university.
The development will make searching more intuitive, Zuckerberg said.
Aware that many would be concerned, Zuckerberg said the search function is sensitive to privacy, limiting them only to the information friends share. Users can easily adjust what they share with friends using the privacy settings in the upper righthand corner.
"Nothing is visible that wasn't visible before," Zuckerberg said.
Facebook's partnership with Bing, owned by Microsoft, previously allowed users to pull up general web search results, like "weather in Menlo Park." This capability still exists, in addition to the Graph Search.
Asked if the company considered developing the function with Google, Zuckerberg said the search engine giant wasn't able to do what Facebook wanted in terms of privacy control. Rather, he said, the relationship with Microsoft helped make the search function possible.
The search function takes on several big networking websites. Facebook will stay competitive with LinkedIn; recruiters can search things like "people who have been product managers and who have been founders" and it pulls up a list of such people. It also keeps Facebook competitive with Yelp, as users can find out their friends' favorite restaurants or doctors in the area. Searching "Singles in Palo Alto" yields results that could make people opt for Facebook over Match.com or other dating websites.
Currently, there are a few minor tech bugs engineers are ironing out. Tuesday's rollout of Zuckerberg referred to as a beta product, takes effect for only a few hundred thousand and is in English only. There are currently 1 billion active users on Facebook.
Eventually, the search function will be available on the mobile application as well.
Asked if the Graph Search would be monetized, Zuckerberg said not yet.
"For now, we're focused on user experience," Zuckerberg said. "Facebook has had sponsored search results for a while. That extends nicely for this, but it hasn't added anything new for this."
The announcement comes a week after an event was posted on the social networking website that cryptically said "come see what we're building."
Journalists and bloggers had a number of predictions about what the announcement could be, from a Facebook smartphone that would keep the social network competitive with Google's Android to new privacy settings.
Facebook's tease was enough to add another 9 percent last week to the stock. It was already in a months-long rebound from its $17.55 September trough. Facebook went public at $38 a share.
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