I've decided to write this post off the back of something Kevin Rose said last week, suggesting that Facebook will become a rival to Google in the search market.
You’ve probably never linked Facebook with internet search, but have a think about it. When you search for something on Google and get the results, how do you know if the results are accurate and reliable? You don't. You have a look around, make your own mind up and move on. But what if these search results had been voted up or down depending on its accuracy or relevance by millions of people?
Facebook already has a voting up system with the infamous 'like' button. If a search result is what you were looking for, then click 'like'. The more a link is liked then the higher up it'll appear in search results. A voting down system could be implemented, but that would probably be open to abuse, with sites voting down their rivals en masse.
Google already have a similar feature where results can be voted up, but Facebook can go further. Facebook knows an awful lot about you; not just your age and location, but your job, what films you like, which celebrities you admire etc etc. Whatever you say or ‘like’ on Facebook could be added to the algorithm used to provide your search results.
Recent comments could also be included, giving a quick review of if the link is relevant to your search or not.
Yes, it's completely open to abuse but so was the system Facebook used to translate their site into other languages, but the process of letting the users say what is the correct and incorrect translation worked so well that complete new languages were added to the site in mere days.
Facebook Search could make searching more accurate. Instead of searching for 'restaurant in Surbiton' and getting a random list, you'd get reviews and ratings, with the most popular restaurant appearing at the top. Link it to your own Facebook friends and their mentions of restaurants in Surbiton could also appear.
This personal, human search would grow incredibly quickly. Facebook has 600 million active users and half of these visit the site every day.
Eric Schmidt said this week that the future Google “will just know” what you want to search for, and while we maybe some time away from mind-reading, we’re definitely heading in the right direction.
Your mobile phone knows where you are, and once logged into Facebook it knows what you like, what you’re friends like. Now enter a to do list into your phone. ‘Buy new jeans’ might be on your list. Your phone – using data from Facebook about what brands you like, and any recent sales mentioned or purchases made by your friends – could prompt you when a relevant shop is nearby.
Yes, this sounds like a mobile phone that stalks your life, but I think it could be useful. The whole idea of crowd sourcing information is exciting; getting real, recommended search results instead of what Google thinks you want could be huge. The quantity of data we give Facebook is vast and this has already led to very targeted advertising. I think a targeted, useful search could be Zuckerburg’s next plan.