Facebook Launches Real-Time Search for Everyone

On the same day in which Facebook acquired FriendFeed, the company has just rolled out its new real-time search engine for all users.

With the new Facebook Search, which is still accessed by entering search terms in the box on the top right of any page, users will now see the latest status updates and shared content from both friends and all users who have made their profile open to everyone – in addition to more static types of results like applications, pages, notes, and groups.

For example, here’s what real-time results for “Iran” now look like:


Facebook Search is now directly competitive with Twitter’s real-time search engine, which the company recently made more prominent for new users. However, the new Facebook search differs from Twitter in two important ways:

  1. Updates from your friends, which are usually not public, come before updates from everyone.
  2. All updates contain rich content in-line, from videos to music to thumbnails of shared links.

It’s important to note that updates from friends are usually private, and not on the public timeline. Although today Facebook is making public timeline search available for the first time ever, it is still prioritizing this new form of social search above searching the public timeline. Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Inside Facebook that the future of Facebook lies in a hybrid public/private sharing model, but we’re still in the early days of seeing the ways that Facebook can leverage the social graph in providing more relevant search results for time-sensitive or research-related queries.

As Facebook engineering manager Akhil Wable writes,

By being able to search more types of content that are being shared on the site, you can easily find out your friends’ evening plans and recently frequented restaurants by searching for “dinner,” discover which of your friends are following Michael Schumacher’s comeback during the “Formula 1″ season by searching for the race series, or query “economy” to see if people or your favorite news sources feel that the recession is turning around. You also can search for a company or product to learn what people are saying about that brand.

However, the launch of public timeline search is still an important step forward in the evolution of Facebook’s search services. Now, marketers and analysts will have another tool to monitor conversations on Facebook in addition to Facebook’s Lexicon tool, which only shows trends at a very high level. Facebook started allowing users to open up their profiles to everyone in March, in an attempt to better serve users who want to share their updates more openly as opposed to using Facebook’s robust privacy controls.

Web results from Microsoft are also included (at the bottom of the page) as part of Facebook’s search partnership with Microsoft, who also owns a 1.6% stake in Facebook. However, Microsoft is not contributing search technology to the new Facebook Search.

APIs Critical to the Future of Real-Time Search

But as we wrote recently, APIs are critical to Facebook’s plans to dominate real-time search. Today, hundreds of third party applications and monitoring tools are built on top of the Twitter Search API to keep tabs on product mentions, hot trends, and consumer sentiment. Given that Facebook has at least an order of magnitude more active users than Twitter, Facebook should be able to return much larger and broader data sets to marketers and journalists. In addition, since Facebook has much deeper data on user identity, it should be able to provide even richer types of aggregate real time search data if it so desires.

The consumer search applications are also clear. Facebook has the potential to displace Google and other search engines for queries on content discovery, product recommendations, news, and more. While Google makes a living inferring authority from links, Facebook will be able to infer authority from shares and social proximity. This is data Google largely doesn’t have access to (at least, full access to). If Facebook were to make it easier for users to do real time searches from a variety of applications and devices, it could become a more significant search player in the future, which in turn could drive substantial new revenue streams for the company.


Nevertheless, the full launch of real-time and public timeline search today mark an important step in Facebook’s evolution. Though it’s still very early in the evolution of Facebook’s search product, the company is increasingly committed to investing in search infrastructure to bring the vision of social search closer to reality – which could increasingly threaten Google and Microsoft’s search dominance.


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Leave a Reply

49 Responses to “Facebook Launches Real-Time Search for Everyone”

  1. Jason says:

    Is this live? I can’t find it anywhere!

  2. Neal Saferstein says:

    I can’t seem to find it either.

    Neal Saferstein

  3. Tiago Dória Weblog » FaceFeed é sobre busca says:

    [...] segunda-feira, quando foi anunciada a compra, o Facebook noticiou também o lançamento de seu novo sistema interno de busca, por meio do qual você poderá, por exemplo, saber “em [...]

  4. Edmund says:

    I cant’t find it either… I’m from malaysia…

  5. Umair Jabbar says:

    same here the search is still old and normal for me
    thought this would be because I am in Pakistan so probably the change might take some time to float but other people also having the same issue as i can see here

  6. Social Media Application Developer says:

    Search results are still the same. I haven’t seen any change in it.

  7. Thomas Kjeldgaard says:

    Me too, nothing has changed….??

  8. Tiarna says:

    i like facebook but i have not got it

  9. FaceFeed: the enterprise perspective | Irregular Enterprise | ZDNet.com says:

    [...] also saw the detail from InsideFacebook which talked about real-time search where it said: With the new Facebook Search, which is still accessed by entering search terms in [...]

  10. Det bästa från idag – tisdag « Blissnation says:

    [...] undrar lite hur det egentligen funkar så har StyleWalker skrivit ett bra blogginlägg i frågan. Somliga hävdar att Facebook igår förutom att köpa FriendFeed även drog igång sin real time search vilket [...]

  11. SPORT 24 - Media* » Μεγαλώσαμε με SAS και Ζεράρ Ντε Βιλιέ says:

    [...] Την ίδια μέρα το Facebook λανσάρει μηχανή αναζήτησης πραγματικού χρόνου. Δεν έχει σχέση με αυτή της Google, πιο [...]

  12. Facebook + FriendFeed = Social Search Perfected? « StraightUpSearch says:

    [...] FriendFeed has been an innovator in social sharing and search since its inception. A month after its public release, FriendFeed added the functionality to search by friends, individual shared items, or all of FriendFeed. Last month FriendFeed rolled out real-time, instantly streaming search. Together these features resemble the real-time search functions that Facebook released yesterday. [...]

  13. Liberal Education Today : Facebook adds real-time search says:

    [...] clear target here is Twitter, which has enabled real-time search for a while.  One important difference is that Facebook searches return multimedia results (photos, videos, etc).  A second difference: [...]

  14. Anne Page says:

    Real time search is definitely an incredibly functional tool. A good website in this space is http://www.gethighnote.com, which has search as well as track and share. It’s results are pretty useful and the track has helped me find some pretty cool information that might otherwise get lost.

  15. Chad Estes says:

    I’m still seeing the old search on Facebook as well. Perhaps this is only open to those users they previously extended the beta feature for the targeted publisher for personal profiles?

  16. sheryl says:

    I’m experiencing the same problem – tested the search but I’m still seeing the old search results. I don’t see public updates.

  17. Justin Smith says:

    Hi all, it sounds like Facebook Search still hasn’t rolled out across the globe. It should be doing so momentarily though based on Facebook’s statements yesterday.

  18. Tech says:

    I think Facebook has bitten off more than it can chew.

  19. asdkfjhcbkn says:

    Hah, before I even read this article my first search was “Iran” to test it out

  20. Facebook and the Challenges of Search says:

    [...] to outperform its rivals in the quest for advertising dollars, it needs better search. And with the new real-time search engine Facebook launched this week, that’s exactly what users [...]

  21. Real-time search is the next big thing, Re-Tweeting Grows up, Google Goes Social, URL shortening drama | eGov Digest says:

    [...] Inside Facebook reports: With the new Facebook Search, which is still accessed by entering search terms in the box on the [...]

  22. The Future of Facebook « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing says:

    [...] and communicate back.   Lately, we’ve seen indicators they want to find ways to improve real-time search, which means they can help consumers make real time [...]

  23. Facebook, le challenge de son nouvel outil de recherche says:

    [...] des dollars publicitaires, ils a besoin d’un meilleur outil de recherche et avec le nouveau moteur de recherche en temps réel lancé par Facebook cette semaine, c’est exactement ce que peuvent désormais faire les [...]

  24. The Travel Technology Consultancy » Facebook und die Herausforderungen der Suche - Ausführliche Beschreibung der neuen Suche in FB und der möglichen Entwicklung says:

    [...] to outperform its rivals in the quest for advertising dollars, it needs better search. And with the new real-time search engine Facebook launched this week, that’s exactly what users got. via [...]

  25. bestnewsupdates.com » Blog Archive » Facebook Launches Real-Time Search for Everyone says:

    [...] more from the original source: Facebook Launches Real-Time Search for Everyone August 10th, 2009 in Uncategorized | tags: consumer-search, content-discovery, living-inferring, [...]

  26. @Facebook Launching Status Tagging for All Users Today says:

    [...] Facebook Page directly by fans, as well as search public comments made by Facebook users through Facebook’s new real time search. However, starting today, all @ tags will appear on the wall of the Page as well, even though users [...]

  27. Facebook Status Tagging | Green Complex says:

    [...] Facebook Page directly by fans, as well as search public comments made by Facebook users through Facebook’s new real time search. However, starting today, all @ tags will appear on the wall of the Page as well, even though users [...]

  28. Sency says:

    there are many real time search engines cropping up. http://sency.com recently launched and it offers a few unique angles to the real time web space…

  29. 8 Tips For Getting Your Fan Page Found In Facebook Search says:

    [...] Wall posts, events and “posts by everyone” can now be displayed in Facebook Search. By creating regularly updated content, you will significantly increase your chances for being shown.  Simple wall posts with branded keywords or branded events will give you extra visibility in the new real time Facebook Search. [...]

  30. Blog says:

    [...] recent months the big players have shown that they want a piece of the action too: Google, Bing and Facebook have all taken steps to keep up with the real-time [...]

  31. Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine Cutting Status Update Data Deal with Facebook says:

    [...] that included a more obvious option for making status updates public. Then, in August, it rolled out a new, real-time search interface on the [...]

  32. Rene Pomainville says:

    I am trying to fine myself on facebook tell why i cant

  33. Heather says:

    Sick trying 2 find people and cant anyone got any info lets share ta love heather xx

  34. Heather says:

    sick trying 2 find people anyone got any info 2 share im all ears ta heather xx

  35. Judy Wanjiru says:

    v been trying to open my account but to no avail.Idont have acces to my account which means i canot talk to my pals or use my wall to chart.Iwas please requesting if its possible u can please make it activeso as to enjoy services of the facebook.

  36. ms.overclocker says:


  37. tiesha says:

    Chisbrowm I saw you on ellen and she said she love you very much.

  38. Larry DeHart says:

    I need a search engine that people visit to find past friends’
    I’m looking for a friend named BETH THOMAS, lived in Baldwinpark california USA in 1955,would be 75 yrs old today. any one can give me advise on how to find her all sugestions will be apreciated

  39. kathy porter says:

    i am looking for Tina Patterson from St. Mary’s Kansas who i met when she moved to Topeka. Tina the new phone number you txt me got deleted before i was able to retrieve it! I’ve been looking for you ever since. Anyone who knows Tina please let her know Mom is trying to find her! I miss her very much!

  40. Google Real Time Search: Posicionamiento web en Tiempo Real | Hello Google says:

    [...] tras adquirir FriendFeed en Agosto de 2009 anunció el lanzamiento de la búsqueda en tiempo real abierta para todo el [...]

  41. Kirschenbaum says:

    How do I see my friends list that I put in the past?????
    Why did you change the format. I do not like your new format.

  42. Why the LGBT Movement Needs Social Media to Win Equality « Kraus Notes says:

    [...]  Matching Fan Pages/Facebook Profiles with “LGBT” or “equality” in the name 2.    Matching wall posts that include “LGBT” or “equality” in the text or title that your friends are sharing 3.   [...]

  43. nasser okasha says:

    i alwys like many frands

  44. Rowena says:

    i like to socialize with new people

  45. samo says:

    i want friends to share love,computers technology issues and good things, open for men or women of over 20 years old

  46. shiva says:

    say me how can found my friend?pz

  47. shiva says:

    pz help me …..how can found my frind?????

  48. Maryann Feduniak Beyer says:

    How can I find my friend Jo Ann Meech (maiden name) a student of the Behrend Campus, Penn. State Univ. 1959-1960

  49. Maryann Feduniak Beyer says:

    I do not know your married name so it has been more than difficult to find you…I hope you answer…either email or facebook.

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