Facebook’s new search will scour all public posts

facebooks new search will scour all public posts facebook 3
Facebook represents an incomprehensibly vast collection of social interactions, but sometimes getting a sense of the collective pulse about topics — how people are responding to the legalization of gay marriage, or reactions to the latest presidential debate  — doesn’t feel as straightforward as it should.

In 2013, the social network giant launched Graph Search, a semantic tool aimed at making searches a bit better, but it wasn’t quite exhaustive — Graph Search didn’t search public posts that hadn’t been shared with you, for example. But now, Facebook’s rolling out an entirely reimagined search that’s based less around the people you know and more around what people are saying.

On Thursday, Facebook announced that search queries will no longer be bound by your insular network — i.e., the people you know and the content that’s been shared with you. Instead, Facebook will index, in real time, the more than two trillion public posts and counting that span its massive network.

The ambitious aim, product manager for Facebook’s search team Roussea Kazi said, is to transform Facebook search into a veritable parser of global conversation. “Because we’ve indexed the entire world’s conversations, we tell you things that are trending, things that are breaking, what’s happening right now” he told The Verge. The new search sifts through Facebook interactions as they unfold, taking a curatorial approach: search for a broad term such as “2016 election,” for example, and you’ll get a list of sources arranged essentially by which is the most authoritative.

Posts by news organizations will more often than not float to the top, followed by friends, topical issues, and geographically proximate communities — you’re more likely to see posts from people you know and users in your country than strangers from across the pond.

Search results are also personalized; the new Facebook search, like Google search, tailors results to your habits and interests. Unlike Google, though, Facebook does this with far greater precision, leveraging its veritable trove of data to inform the way its search function surfaces and organizes content.

“We have to balance two things: how are the authors relevant to you and how is what they’re posting relevant to what you’re searching for,” vice president of Facebook search told The Verge. Every action you’ve taken on Facebook — every post you’ve liked, friend you’ve accepted (or rejected), and photo you’ve posted — will form the basis of the results.


The granularity of Facebook’s new search function is impressive. You can drill down by date; a search for “2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami” yields chronologically appropriate posts and news stories, while changing the year to “2015” filters accordingly. And historical posts remain fully intact — you can even view comments. “The whole idea here is that if you can group these pieces of content in certain ways, it makes it pretty easy to get the full story,” Kazi told The Verge. “We’re making it super easy for you to get everyone’s [current or historical] perspective on one place about a topic that you care about.”

The new search is radically different from its previous incarnation. Graph Search relied essentially on a tagging system, prioritizing your social connections to help find specific categories of content such as photos of your friends, music your friends like, or restaurants nearby. Facebook’s new search, by contrast, is almost akin to Twitter’s recently introduced Moments feature. Boiled down, it’s an attempt to mold a firehose of social data into something cohesive, coherent and, all told, useful.

The new Facebook search, however, has privacy implications that Twitter Moments doesn’t. Though Facebook is adamant that people who opt to keep their content private won’t appear in search results, it’s unclear just how many users know how to adjust, or are even aware of, the settings to do so. In 2012, Consumer Reports found that 13 million Facebook users in the US alone weren’t familiar with the social network’s privacy options. Facebook has improved the visibility of its privacy toggles since then, but the scary fact remains: regrettable comments made five years ago are now all the easier to find.

But privacy, some may argue, may be an inevitable casualty of convenience. After all, Facebook’s only tapping into what many of its users want — according to the American Press Institute, 88 percent of millennials get news and information from Facebook and many (57 percent) check for updates more than once a day. Any tool to enable the surfacing of just the kind of topical posts they’re looking for makes sense, and that’s something Facebook’s retooled search absolutely accomplishes.

The new Facebook search is rolling out to users in English-speaking territories first. It’s launching on iOS, Android, and desktop over the next few days.


After controversial video, China bans ‘Leica’ on social media

A video that referenced Tiananmen Square got the name of the camera company Leica banned from the social media platform Weibo. Leica says the video wasn't an officially sanctioned promotion.

Get jiggy with it and find the jigsaw pieces with our Fortnite challenge guide

For this Fortnite weekly challenge, players must search for jigsaw puzzle pieces under bridges and in caves. We've got the best locations for finding these pieces so you can complete this challenge fast.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.

How to share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.

The black satin Razer Phone 2 is now available for $500

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.

The best LG G7 ThinQ cases will keep your phone looking new

The LG G7 ThinQ comes with a powerful processor, versatile cameras, and amazing sound. But a powerful phone still needs protection and you might want to change the style. Here are the best LG G7 ThinQ cases.

Multiple phone leaks show May 21 is going to be a big day for Honor

Honor will launch at least one new smartphone on May 21, at an event taking place in London. Leaks have indicated the Honor 20 will take center stage, with a Lite version, and perhaps even another model also showing up on the day.

The Avalon V is Alcatel’s first Verizon-exclusive smartphone

Alcatel is has announced a new phone, the Avalon V -- but this budget device isn't what makes the announcement special. It's Alcatel's first phone on the Verizon network, and it's available now.

Big, beautiful, and breakable: Check out the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases

There’s no denying Samsung’s ability to turn out an attractive smartphone, but glass curves are expensive to fix and metal chips easily. We've rounded up the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases on the market.

Sidestep banking fees with the nationwide launch of T-Mobile Money

T-Mobile has launched its Money banking service nationwide in the U.S., and it offers an extremely tempting set of features for everyone, including industry-leading interest rates, a powerful app, and no banking fees.

The OnePlus 3 & 3T both receive an open beta for Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…

The dramatic BlackBerry Key2 Red Edition is now available in the U.S.

BlackBerry's Key2 is likely to be the best keyboard-equipped phone in 2019, with a modern look, some powerful specs, and totally revamped features. Here's everything you need to know about it.

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.