Facebook announced late last week the addition of personal search history to the Activity Log, allowing users to view and delete previous searches.
The seemingly innocuous change hints at Facebook’s plans to enter the search realm, as promised by founder Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month.
“Search engines are really evolving toward giving you a set of answers,” he told the audience at TechCrunch Disrupt. “It’s not just like ‘I’ll type in something and show me some relevant stuff.’ It’s, ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me.’ When you look at it from that perspective, Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have: ‘What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the past six months and liked?’ ‘Which of my friends and friends of friends work at this company I’m interested in … so I can talk to them about what it’s like to work there?’”
Analysts have awaited a move by Facebook into the realm of web search since the reigning leader, Google, announced their own social platform. Both are in the position to collect massive amounts of social data and employ it in personalized web searches, though each are starting at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Google have long dominated web search and only in the past year have begun personalizing search using higher intent social data with Search Plus Your World. Facebook, on the other hand, grew into the largest single source of social data and are now beginning to act on their interest to compete in web search and the lucrative ads industry (outside of their own space).
They’ve been experimenting with features within the Facebook platform that Google has already mastered on the web, like the real-time search ads API they rolled out in August. This summer also saw the launch of Facebook’s real-time bidding and retargeting capabilities.
The addition of personal search history to the Activity Log is another step forward for Facebook in their quest to steal a piece of the search marketing pie from Google and current competitors. Zuckerberg’s appearance at TC Disrupt left little to debate as to whether or not search is part of their grander plan. He told interviewers of search, “…at some point we’ll do it…. That’s one obvious thing that would be interesting for us to do in the future.”
To access personal search history, go to the Activity Log and click on “Search” in the activity sorter (the activity sorter is a dropdown menu with “All” as the default label for the button). Facebook reminds users that no one else can see their search history; this is private, between the user and Facebook. Search history looks like this:
The new search history feature will be rolling out over the next few weeks.