By SOMINI SENGUPTA and CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Whether Facebook's users will continue to divulge even more private details will determine whether so-called social search is the next step in how we navigate the online world.
從10多億用戶那裡收集照片和個人資料多年後﹐Facebook Inc. FB -0.83% 週二推出了一個搜索工具﹐它不僅可通過用戶資料篩選搜索結果﹐更讓這個社交媒體向本屬於谷歌(Google Inc. GOOG -1.34% )的地盤深入了一步。
Josh Edelson/Agence France-Press/Getty Images
谷歌的信息庫規模目前仍是其他公司望塵莫及的。該公司說﹐已索引了2.3億個網站上的30萬億個獨立網頁。去年﹐谷歌改變了搜索引擎﹐使之能更方便地讓網友 迅速找到有關人、地方和現實事物的詳細信息。具體來說﹐就是在搜索結果頁面的最上端顯示搜索查詢的圖片、事實和其它“直接答案”等﹐而不是簡單地給出藍色 鏈接。
在目睹了Facebook的崛起並且預測到它將移師搜索界後﹐谷歌在2011年 創建了自己的社交網絡服務Google+﹐以獲取有關人名、個人愛好和朋友身份等具體用戶的數據﹐然後把Google+與其網絡搜索服務整合到一起。這樣 一來﹐人們在搜索具體的網站、當地飯館或真實產品時﹐如果他們在Google+上的聯繫人給過相應的正面或負面評價﹐他們都會收到相關提醒。
但 Facebook的社交網絡在規模上要比谷歌大得多﹐並且在時機把握方面也算捷足先登﹐這要歸功於多年來Facebook一直鼓勵用戶將圖片和各種個人信 息添加到他們資料中的努力。這些信息既包括地理位置、雇主名稱和興趣愛好等基本信息﹐也包括年齡、宗教和婚姻狀況等敏感資料。
經過一年多 的開發後﹐上述信息中有很多可通過Facebook的Graph Search新功能搜索到。Facebook週二推出這一搜索工具﹐面向有限的用戶進行測試。對於Facebook無法呈現的網絡搜索﹐則由該公司合作伙 伴微軟公司(Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.62% )旗下的搜索引擎必應(Bing)來完成。
Facebook進軍搜索市場可能還會影響很多其它互聯網公司﹐如Yelp Inc. YELP -1.21% 和LinkedIn Corp. LNKD +0.15% ﹐人們會分別通過這兩個網站來搜索本地設施和業務聯繫。
如果事實證明﹐Facebook的新功能在搜索最佳商品方面更值得信賴﹐那它還有可能削弱亞馬遜公司(Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -1.09% )在產品搜索領域的主導地位。亞馬遜依賴的是其網站上的大量點評﹐而不僅僅是符合一定條件的朋友或熟人的評論。
Facebook首席執行長扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)承認Graph Search可能有助於公司增收﹐但他不透露Facebook可能會在何時利用這些機會獲利。
Facebook 近幾個月推出的一系列新產品都表明它在尋找新的收入來源。這些新產品包括獨立的手機短信應用﹐允許廣告商更精確瞄準具體人群的實時廣告競價交易所 “Facebook交易所”(Facebook Exchange)﹐以及網上商店“Gifts”等。Facebook將在1月30日發佈第四季度業績。
假 如某個人想搜索朋友以“黃石國家公園”(Yellowstone National Park)為標簽的照片﹐那麼輸入“朋友在黃石的照片”(photos of friends at Yellowstone)就可以了。如果想拓寬搜索面﹐則可將關鍵詞改為“朋友在國家公園的照片”(photos of friends at national parks)。跟谷歌一樣﹐搜索結果也是在用戶輸入關鍵詞的時候就開始出現。
Graph Search的認真啟動是在2011年年中。當時Facebook搜索工程總監拉斯姆森(Lars Rasmussen)向扎克伯格展示了產品的基本原型。
EVELYN M. RUSLI / AMIR EFRATI
Facebook On Collision Course With Google On Web Searches
After years of collecting photos and personal data from its billion-plus members, Facebook Inc. Tuesday unveiled a search tool that sifts through people's profiles -- and pushes the social network deeper onto Google Inc.'s home turf.
The two companies are vying to become the primary gateway to the Internet. Google has long served as a destination to find websites and information; Facebook, to share gossip and photos with friends. But those distinctions are increasingly blurring, and billions in advertising dollars are at stake.
The social network said Tuesday it will enable members to conduct complex queries related to their friends' profiles, such as 'tourist attractions in France visited by my friends.'
In doing so, Facebook is attacking Google's core strength and its most lucrative product -- search -- in a bid to convince people they might not need to use Google to find information.
Google generates the majority of its $40 billion in annual revenue world-wide from selling ads on its search engine. In the U.S., Google was expected to make more than $13 billion of all search-ad revenue, or 75% of the entire market, according to research firm eMarketer Inc.
Google's repository of information remains unmatched. It said it has indexed 30 trillion unique Web pages across 230 million sites. Last year, Google changed it search engine to make it easier for people to quickly get detailed information about people, places and real-world things by displaying photos, facts and other 'direct answers' to search queries at the top of the search-results page, rather than just spitting out blue links.
Having witnessed Facebook's rise and anticipating its move into search, Google built its own social-networking service, Google+, in 2011 to obtain data about specific individuals by name, their personal interests and the identities of their friends. It then integrated Google+ with its Web-search service, so that people searching for a particular website, local restaurant or real-world product will be alerted if any of their Google+ contacts previously rated it positively or negatively.
A Google spokesman declined to comment.
But Facebook has a far larger social network and a sizable head-start after spending years encouraging its members to add photos and all sorts of personal information to their profiles, from basic data like location, employer name and interests to more sensitive details such as age, religion and romantic status.
Much of that data is now searchable using Facebook's new 'Graph Search' feature after more than a year in development. Facebook began rolling it out Tuesday as a test to a limited number of users. For Web searches that Facebook can't deliver, the queries are served by Bing, the search engine from Facebook partner Microsoft Corp.
Facebook's move into search could disrupt a number of other Internet businesses, such as Yelp Inc. and LinkedIn Corp., which people use to find local places and business connections, respectively.
If Facebook's new function proves a more trusted means for finding the best merchandise, it could also chip away at Amazon.com Inc.'s dominance in product search, which relies on a critical mass of reviews on its site, rather than just those of friends or acquaintances matching certain criteria.
Amazon and LinkedIn declined to comment. A spokesman for Yelp, whose shares dropped more than 7% in the wake of Facebook's announcement, wasn't immediately available for comment.
'I don't think one query will take down a whole business today, but (many of) these businesses have to be worried because they are social in nature,' said Brian Blau, a Gartner analyst.
Facebook didn't announce any business initiatives connected with the new capability, which won't initially be available on mobile devices -- where a growing number of users are tapping into the service.
But the product will likely open moneymaking opportunities down the road for Facebook in the form of search advertising, as the company works to boost its revenue following its botched initial public offering last May.
Facebook currently makes most of its revenue by selling small graphical, or display, ads on its site.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that Graph Search could help Facebook make more money, but demurred on when the company might capitalize on those opportunities.
'This could potentially be a business over time, but for now we've really focused on building out this user experience,' Mr. Zuckerberg said at the product's launch event at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, adding that the company has no specific targets for making the search service more widely available.
Investors didn't appear to be surprised by the news, which followed days of speculation online that Facebook would announce a search tool. Facebook's shares, which have risen more than 75% since their September nadir, fell 2.7% to close Tuesday at $30.10.
Facebook has introduced a slew of new products in recent months that indicate it is going after new revenue. The product debuts include stand-alone mobile texting applications; Facebook Exchange, a real-time bidding ad exchange that allows advertisers to better target specific groups; and Gifts, an online store. The company reports fourth-quarter earnings on January 30.
Facebook has long had a basic search tool, but it was geared toward rudimentary searches such as someone's name or a company's Facebook page. With Graph Search, Facebook has taken its data and spliced it, indexing it into numerous categories that make it easier for people to discover results when they search using natural language terms.
For instance, if someone wants to finds photographs of their friends tagged at Yellowstone National Park, he or she can type in 'photos of friends at Yellowstone.' If they want to broaden that search, they can alter a search query to 'photos of friends at national parks.' Like Google, results begin to show up as a user types in their query.
At the event, Facebook also tried to blunt potential concerns about what the search feature means for privacy. The social network, which has been criticized in the past by consumer advocates for its handling of user data, said it would only allow users to see information that is already accessible to them.
In addition, before the search product is released to the entire social network, users will see a notification on the top of their home page, urging them to review what personal data is exposed to Graph Search.
'Privacy, as part of this product, is so deeply built in,' Mr. Zuckerberg said.
The Graph Search project began in earnest in mid-2011, when Lars Rasmussen, Facebook's director of engineering for search, showed Mr. Zuckerberg a demonstration of a basic prototype.
During the meeting, held in Mr. Zuckerberg's conference room, Mr. Rasmussen said the search team could build an engine that could show instant results, drawing from across the social network. Mr. Zuckerberg liked the idea, but was skeptical.
'He said you'll never make that work, but if you can it will be awesome,' said Mr. Rasmussen, who led the project with Tom Stocky, Facebook's director of product management for search.
Facebook's search team, which numbers more than 50 people, pushed hard in the final months on the project, with the team on 'lockdown'-essentially a crunch period-for 34 days during the winter, Mr. Stocky said. During that time, Mr. Zuckerberg made frequent night visits to the group.
On Tuesday, members of the search team packed into the back of the press room to watch Mr. Zuckerberg unveil the search feature. Outside Facebook's campus, a thumbs-up sign was temporarily covered, replaced with a large blue sign of the Graph Search logo: three circles in a triangle formation, connected by lines.
EVELYN M. RUSLI / AMIR EFRATI
Google Should Actually Be Thanking Facebook For Getting Into The Search Business (GOOG, FB)
When Facebook announced its Graph Search feature earlier this week, some were quick to say that it meant war between Google and Facebook.
But analysts said yesterday that Facebook's foray into social search won't hurt Google in the near future. In fact, Facebook search could be great for Google, Liz Gannes of AllThingsD reports.
"That's because regulators — especially those in the thick of deciding whether to settle with Google over antitrust — now have the prospect of additional search competition," Gannes writes.
Since the basis of the European Commission's case against Google is that the search giant is abusing its dominance of the market, Facebook's entry into the market proves that it is indeed competitive.
Head on over to AllThingsD for Gannes' full analysis.