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Facebook to launch social search?


EU floats online “right to be forgotten." This photo taken Dec. 14, 2010 shows a map on a page from the Facebook social network site.The map displays friendships as lights on a deep blue background. The eastern half of the United States and Europe shine the brightest, while China, Russia and central Africa, where Facebook has little presence, are mainly dark.


Karen Bleier

Bloomberg BusinessWeek revealed yesterday that about two dozen Facebook engineers, led by a former Google engineer were working on an improved search engine for the social media giant, according to two people "familiar with the project."

Since then, rumors have been circulating about Facebook launching a social search engine that could give Google healthy competition. The Telegraph noted that Facebook has done very little to improve or monetize its search engine function. Google, meanwhile, has made forays into social media with Google+ and social search with Search Plus Your World.

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The Facebook team, led by Lars Rasmussen, is reportedly working on a search engine that will "help users better sift through the volume of content that members create on the site, such as status updates, and the articles, videos, and other information across the Web that people 'like' using Facebook’s omnipresent thumbs-up button," according to Bloomberg.

Drew Olanoff, editor of the technology site The Next Web, told The Telegraph, "By cropdusting the web with “Like” buttons, Facebook has a huge set of data and information curated by all of us," in essence turning the user's social circle into the user's search engine.

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CNN analyzed whether the Google search algorithm's dominance over the internet was giving way to the "like" economy of social media.

Illustrating the example was the Guardian's director for digital development, Tanya Corduroy, who revealed that just eighteen months ago search made up 40 percent of the Guardian's traffic and social made up 2 percent. However, by last month there was a "seismic shift" in referral traffic, with Facebook driving more traffic than Google, making up around 30 percent of the newspapers referrals.

Bloomberg suggested that Facebook launching a social search engine might keep users on its site longer, decreasing traffic to Google's search engine.

When contacted about the rumors by Mashable, Facebook responded, "We don't comment on rumors and speculation around products."

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