Facebook Search Not A Priority Now For The Social Site

Speculation that Facebook will allow all Open Graph-enabled Web pages to serve up in searches when a member clicks on the "like" button surfaced Friday, but a company spokesperson dismissed reports.

The All Facebook Blog reported that Facebook will create a semantic index of the Web through the "like" button, enabling stronger search options than Google through "link baiting" rather than "like bating," the technology the social site uses to determine relevance. The blog says a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the feature.

Analysts and SEO professionals have been awaiting the arrival of Facebook's search strategy. With the exception of the past several months, the social site experienced higher growth rates in search query volume than traditional search engines, according to comScore. Some attribute the uptick to an increase in members, people creating and launching community pages, and brands expanding social campaigns supported by Fan pages.

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Search will not become the center of attention for Facebook, according to a Facebook spokesperson. Not now, anyway. Facebook will continue to test search features, but it will not become the product focus for the company. The 1,400 employees, of which there are about 300 engineers, will continue to focus on building a technology platform that allows "cool experiences" such as adding social elements. Social games -- which have become the site's strongest vertical -- should provide that social experience, not only on the site, but also tie into consoles like Microsoft Xbox 360.

Built on the concept that sharing experiences among friends creates community, Facebook engineers will continue to create features on the platform that allow marketers to communicate with consumers, and friends to share experiences among friends.

And although not intentional, Facebook members should expect surprises related to services, as the social site forges ahead with features not previously offered. Tests are done on all tools before being released, but testing cannot always identify all the bugs and faults in the code. Privacy holes and flaws in the code can sometimes appear as intentional, but Facebook employees do take privacy seriously. The continuous push into uncharted territory to open the social graph may present some unexpected features that engineers will need to fix as they are found.

Take, for example, the privacy debacle and issues surrounding controls. Engineers will continue to work on making the privacy controls easier to use. Many of these controls have been buried in layers of clicks and Web pages, making settings nearly impossible for the layperson to figure out.

Facebook officials assert that the site's basic privacy settings have been around for years, but the company has forged new ground on uncharted territory when it comes to opening and connecting the Internet's social graph. Now it's a matter of pulling out the settings to make it easier for people to find, as well as educate them. The company will continue to condense the privacy settings in "fewer buckets" to prevent people from feeling "overwhelmed" and realize that Facebook members do have control.

In an effort to cope with the privacy backlash, Facebook hired White House official Marne Levine to work with its policy team. Levine joins the social network as vice president of global public policy, spearheading efforts to build and manage teams focused on policy in Asia, Americas and Europe.

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