Facebook's New Search Feature Reminds Us of Twitter

Last night Facebook announced a new search feature that it's testing on "just a fraction of a percent of the people on Facebook" that allows users to search their News Feeds for the most recent status updates, notes, links, videos, etc., reflecting a certain keyword. Essentially, as ZDNet notes, it's Twitter search. In Facebook's words:

"The people around us are a powerful source for finding information about new and interesting information--from the latest on last night's episode of "The Office" and suggestions on what to do for your next vacation to current events."

Facebook is deftly experimenting on its own site with a Twitter search-like feature that allows users to sniff out their own trending topics. By searching with a particular keyword, users can ascertain which topics are being linked to, talked up, or mentioned off-handedly in status updates within their network of friends or on any public pages they follow. The search will also include content from anyone who has a Facebook page open to the public. Always cognizant of its users' privacy concerns, the announcement also reiterates that users can control what's searchable in their profile, and even links to Facebook's privacy policy.

The rolling out of this new social feature comes at an interesting time for Facebook; just yesterday ComScore reported that last month Facebook finally overtook MySpace by volume of unique monthly U.S. viewers. In an unrelated but perhaps prescient move, MySpace cut more than 400 workers as well. Now that the age-old "MySpace or Facebook" question seems to be settled, is a Facebook/Twitter rivalry taking center stage?

Likely not, at least not in light of Facebook's new search experiment. Twitter is a true public forum, searchable by those who do not tweet and reflective of, more or less, the entire Twittersphere. Facebook's new search feature will be useful for identifying trends among the particular group that a user calls friends, but can't replace Twitter's larger role as a free-flowing marketplace of ideas. When people start poking one another via Twitter, then we'll know a Facebook-Twitter showdown is in the offing.

[via ZDNet, Facebook]

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