Facebook Tests its Latest Information Search Feature

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The takeaways

  • Facebook is currently testing a new version of Facebook Search that shows information panels based on search terms from users.
  • The feature utilises features introduced by Google and Wikipedia to present its results, sourced from public data. 
  • The eventual rollout of the feature is not known at this time.

What happened?

Facebook has begun testing its newly updated Facebook Search feature, which aims to keep users inside its platform when seeking out factual information. Search is designed to keep users on the platform rather than migrating to Google or Wikipedia and collates and presents search data in a similar manner to both. This includes the use of Google’s “Knowledge Panels” information boxes, which usually contain information summaries from Wikipedia, when delivering results.

Facebook Search gathers information from publicly available data sources, including Wikipedia, and displays it in a side panel alongside the search results. This is similar to the automatically generated Knowledge Panel format Google uses for these same types of searches. Facebook previously used Wikipedia content in 2010 in the launch of its community pages. 

From Graph Search to Facebook Search

The updated feature follows the discontinuation of Facebook’s Graph Search tool a year ago. Previously, Facebook launched Graph Search for users to access its data in searches for people, places, images and interests. After high profile security lapses, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook discontinued the tool. 

According to TechCrunch, Search is running as a pilot program in English on iOS, desktop and mobile web. The tech publisher has found that the feature is present, though requires further intuitive testing to approach Google’s capabilities with queries and search terms. It’s currently unknown how long the pilot program will last, or when Facebook will officially launch the feature.

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