Facebook users have always been able to perform searches. They could search for their high school friends, look for relatives across borders and oceans, and even find groups based on their interests. However, things are changing. On October 22, Facebook rolled out new settings that further expanded users’ search capabilities.
Whereas Facebook users were once limited in their searches, things are truly opening up like never before. Now, you can search for information stored in two trillion posts – including from people who are not your “friends” on the site and groups you have not joined. There are some limitations, though, since Facebook is vigilant when it comes to protecting privacy. Users can only find information they are otherwise allowed to see, such as public posts. Private posts from individuals who are not the users’ “friends” remain private.
The Results Breakdown
If a user wanted to search for something particular, such as the recent record-breaking hurricane Patricia, they only need to type this information into the search bar at the top of the page. Then, they will see popular posts from trusted news outlets first. After that, they will see posts about that subject from friends and joined groups. Next comes lists of the most popular links on the web, and, finally, users see a list of posts from strangers. Essentially, the results appear in order of relevancy to the user, and they provide an excellent way to discover what other people are saying and thinking about the hurricane.
It’s Not About the Money – Yet
Facebook execs are aware of the potential money involved with optimizing their search tools, too. Vice President of Search, Tom Stocky, even says that Facebook is not focused on monetization with this feature. Despite this, some 1.5 billion searches a day take place through Facebook, and optimizing them opens the door to incredible keyword advertising potential. In fact, SEO may apply to Facebook ads in the future just as it applies to Google ads today. Businesses relying on internet-based content to sell goods and services may need to consider Facebook as a viable source of keyword optimization and a money-making opportunity.
Is Facebook Obscurity a Thing of the Past?
Something that everyone should consider with this change is the fact that everything they have ever posted on Facebook is now suddenly searchable. Even those who set their posts to “friends only” might find that a comment made during a heated argument on a public post could come back to haunt them. The best way to mitigate any damage before it begins involves searching your name along with any terms that people might find offensive, then removing any comments you find.
Why Is This a Game Changer?
Today, when people want news, they usually turn on the television or head to one of their favorite news sites. In fact, there are no fewer than 50 smartphone apps that compile news from various sources based on the user’s interests. However, because millions upon millions of people log into Facebook every single day – and for many, it is the very first thing they do – why not make it so Facebook not only updates people about what is happening in their friends’ lives, but also around the world? What’s more, the new search feature gives people a new perspective on the news. People know what is happening around them, and they also know how others feel about it. It is a highly social take on news that suits Facebook well.
What to Expect
For most people, nothing will really change other than their ability to type a keyword into the search bar and discover relevant information. Facebook will give you a notification if anyone likes or comments on a post that they found through the new “Search” function, just to give you a heads up that your information is available in this way. In the meantime, if you are concerned about your privacy, just head over to your accounts settings and make sure that you have posts set to “Friends Only”. What’s more, remember that nothing you put on the internet is ever 100% secure, so you should choose your posts wisely lest your employer (or potential employer) find them.
Billions of people around the world turn to news outlets each day to tell them what they need to know about what is happening in the world. Facebook looks to become a true contender, offering up not only the same outstanding relevancy as smartphone apps that exist for no other reason than to provide the news, but also the opportunity to find out how friends, family, and even strangers feel about that news. It is a major advance in social media, for sure.
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