After nearly two months of testing, Facebook is beginning to roll out a search service that will make the social network a true competitor in the real-time search market. Users who enter a query will now be able to find status updates, photos, links, and videos. Previously, they could largely only find entries for other users’ profiles and groups. Results are broken down into general categories — including web results (which are powered by Microsoft’s Bing), as well as various groupings, like “applications” and “friends’ posts,” depending on the query.
The changes are significant because they will directly pit the social network against Twitter’s search engine, which is being widely used as a way to find what people are thinking about a certain topic at a given moment. It may be Twitter’s most monetizable feature and has drawn interest from all the major search players.
On Facebook’s new search service, users will see results culled both from the posts of their friends — and also from others on the site who have chosen to make their updates public. That is likely a growing group, considering that Facebook recently overhauled its privacy settings so that users can more easily share their content with everyone.