Monday, September 24, 2012

Friend mining: Facebook preps for social search future

When it comes to social search, it's not just Facebook versus Google. It could also be Facebook versus Quora, Yelp and Foursquare.

(Credit: Dan Farber/CNET)
CNET - No other company in the world holds as much personal data as Facebook, which puts it in an ideal position to cull data from your friends and friends-of-friends, and even those you don't know, to bring you answers to your deepest questions. Such as, "What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the last six months and Liked?"

Ok, maybe that's not your deepest questions, but it's the example that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used during an interview at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference earlier this month when he was talking about the intersection of Facebook and search.

"Search engines are evolving" to "giving you a set of answers," Zuckerberg said. "Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of questions people have."

You could call Facebook's notion of search "friend mining," extracting specific answers to question by mining the immensely data-rich social graph. Zuckerberg was coy about when Facebook would launch a more capable search engine, but allowed, "At some point we will do it. We have a team working on search." His remarks certainly got the attention of Facebook watchers and Wall Street analysts, who have been speculating about how Facebook, with its nearly one billion users, could harness all that personal data and generate Google-like revenue from search.