The world’s two most-visited websites soon might face off in the search business. Several prominent tech blogs are buzzing about mounting evidence that suggests social giant Facebook is developing its own search engine. To dispel or confirm the speculation, many people will turn to Google, the go-to destination for online searches, for more information.
The speculation began earlier this year, when Facebook became a publicly traded company. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page showed an elongated white box, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported, and “Web pundits speculated the image showed a prototype of a new Facebook search engine.”
In remarks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Sept. 11, Zuckerberg did little to tamp down the idea that search is a big part of the company. Wired reported that Zuckerberg said Facebook users already are doing 1 billion searches on the social network each day.
Facebook’s search engine undoubtedly would tap into the social network’s 955 million monthly active users, using their status updates, favorites, likes, location and other data, to assist and refine searches. (Google, after all, is pursuing a similar strategy by mining data from its Google+ social network to improve the results returned by its search engine.)
For example, using status updates, the Facebook search engine would enable friends in the same vicinity to meet with one another. This, perhaps, could be a potential way for governments to utilize constituents’ data to better locate and solve local issues, such as pothole repairs and graffiti, or for public safety officials to quantify attendance during public events.
Facebook’s search engine development reportedly is being led by a former Google employee and a team of nearly two dozen engineers.
A renewed emphasis on search represents a change in strategy for Facebook.
Although the world is buzzing about the new iPhone 5 unveiled on Wednesday, Sept. 12, Facebook’s CEO doesn’t seem too keen on developing its own phones, saying that “the phone just doesn’t make sense for us,” according to the Technology Review.
When asked about the search site, however, Facebook told Mashable that, “We don’t comment on rumors and speculations around products.”