Who cares about Google vs. Microsoft when you have two search giants like facebook and twitter waging war on one another. Okay, not really but recently facebook rolled out a new and improved search functionality to a limited user base.
According to facebook:
You will be able to search your News Feed for the most recent status updates, photos, links, videos and notes being shared by your friends and the Facebook Pages of which you’re a fan. You will also be able to search for status updates, posted links and notes in Search from people who have chosen to make their profile and content available to everyone.
Facebook is obviously rolling out real time search to compete with twitter but I wonder if facebook privacy settings will limit the functionality of this feature. Sure this feature will be useful for searching within your network but what about users outside your network? How many users have public profiles and how many users will be open to the idea that their messages will be available to everyone and anyone? As Tech Crunch points out, “just a couple of years ago there were revolts over the launch of the news steam itself.”
Friends vs. Followers
At the core, I believe facebook contains an extremely large number of small groups. Most users probably have about 130-150 friends and invoke some sort of privacy settings to limit content they share with that small subset of facebook users. Twitter on the other hand is made up of one large group of users. Because there isn’t much to share on twitter, you’re much more open to sharing it with everybody. It’s easier to “follow” someone that it is to “friend” them. Plus, the focus of twitter has always been on the stream; with facebook, it’s just another feature.
Value of the feed
I also believe there is a difference in the content of status updates on facebook and twitter. I use twitter as a way to share interesting news stories and topics with others. With facebook I predominately use status updates to tell people what I’m actually doing (i.e., “Rich is at the movies.”). If this is true for the majority of users then twitter’s news stream is much more valuable than facebook’s.
It will be interesting to see what comes of facebook search and whether or not they are able to steal some of twitter’s thunder. With facebook’s size, even a small percentage of users opening up their profiles to search could make a difference. Hey, at the very least, any improvements to facebook search are welcome since it has pretty much always sucked.
What are your thoughts? Can facebook dent twitter’s stranglehold on real time search?