As Pocket-lint was told by our trusted sources yesterday, Facebook has launched its own search engine. However, rather than offer the ability to search the web, it is a feature that allows you to search the Facebook "graph".
According to CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who made the announcement at a special Facebook event, there are currently one billion people, 240 million photos and one trillion connections in the "social graph". Graph Search allows you to filter through all of the information and find the relevant stuff that's important to you.
"Graph Search is designed to give you the answer rather than take you to an answer," explained Zuckerberg when launching the new feature. "Most other search products rely on filters, we quickly realised this wouldn't scale so we came up with something a lot more natural."
The idea is that users will be given information rather than being taken to a set of links that serve to take you somewhere else. Of course, if the search you ask for doesn't return an answer, Facebook has said that it will pull in Bing results to cover them.
Currently in beta, the search function is "privacy aware" in that it will only throw up results that others are happy for you to see. Most likely this will be confined to those who are already friends and family, and the first point of call for the search.
For example, if you type in "Find my friends who also like Oasis", it will list all of your immediate contacts who have, at one point or another, posted something about the band (or fruit drink). These will be listed in order of how close they are to you - depending on how you've tagged them.
The search requests can be typed into the top Facebook bar, and the results are listed in a dynamic design that suits the rest of the social network site. It will also throw up images, much like Google Image Search, but only those relevant to your request. Another example being "photos of me and xxxx" - the results would be tiled photos of you and the other person asked for.
It can also search for places, and link the location with events and postings from your friends or groups.
And this is all information that is locked off to Google, so gives Facebook a rather unique position in that field.
You can find out more at www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch and join the waiting list to be able one of the first to try out Graph Search during the beta test phase. Sadly, this is currently available only to US English language Facebook users, although Pocket-lint managed to sign up from the UK, so maybe it's not too fussy.