Facebook's search engine has lagged behind the rest of the site's innovations, sometimes feeling like the limited Web search engines of the '90s ... but no more. Today it's had a dramatic refresh that even adds in--surprise!--a Twitter-like mojo.
The news hit on Facebook's blog, where the company describes some of the new features. The biggest improvement is that you can now search through the last 30 days of content in your News Feed--any status updates, photos, whatever. Those FB users who've chosen to make their status updates public will also find their data coming up in these searches. It's a pretty potent trick because it lets you backtrack on what's been going on if you've not logged into FB for a few days. And because it covers photo updates, links, videos, and even fan pages, there's going to be lots of interesting data returned in a search.
By making search such a global feature, Facebook's beginning to tackle some of that real-time data flow that Twitter's been busy exploiting. Imagine you want to see what people are saying about a piece of breaking news. Now you just have to search for it and you'll turn up discussions in wall postings, links, and possibly even photos.
This new capability also exposes Facebook's limitations as a real-time engine, because not everyone makes their postings public. If users keep their news feeds private, the search function's true potential is severely hampered.
At a minimum, though, the new FB search indicates the direction that Facebook might go in the future. After all, it's messed with users' public/private settings several times in the past. Perhaps the coding team has plans for more public status updates in the future? That would turn FB's news feed into a very Twitter-like affair, complete with powerful search. All you'd need to add in was "trending topics"--and Bingo!--the Twitterization of Facebook will be complete.