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Facebook unveils Graph Search

Facebook announced Graph Search at its press event which was shrouded with mystery. Before the event, the rumors were flying about a search engine or a new Timeline.

Facebook graph searchEnlarge
Facebook announced Graph Search on January 15, 2013. (Screengrab/Facebook)

Facebook is set to make an announcement on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET, and rumors are flying about what mysterious new venture the social media giant could be announcing.

Facebook's own search engine

USA Today said one of the biggest rumors is a search engine. "Google's share of the overall US mobile ad market — 57 percent, compared with Facebook's 9 percent — is largely because of its search business."

The website Pocket-lint said it learned that the big announcement is a search engine, although the details remain unclear. 

"Sources who don't wish to be named have confirmed to Pocket-lint that the big announcement at the company's event will focus on the new search feature with an expected roll-out shortly afterwards," said the site.

Facebook phone

The Associated Press said the rumor about a Facebook phone was "unlikely," since CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly denied speculation that the company was building its own smartphone just last fall.

"It is so clearly the wrong strategy for us," Zuckerberg said in September. "It doesn't move the needle for us."

App for Apple's iPad

There are several rumors about Facebook's mobile products, and one of them is an app for Apple's iPad.

TechCrunch's Alexia Tsotsis wrote, "Specifically I’m hearing that Messenger for iPad, replete with all the Messenger features we’ve come to love like emoticons, photosharing, read receipts, location tagging, group messaging, and the new voice-recorded messaging feature, is ready for the public eye."

An upgraded Timeline

Mashable noted that changes to Facebook's Timeline have been rolling out for some users in New Zealand. A row of fresh options top the page, replacing "Maps" and thumbnail images. The new options include a "Collections Manager" feature that allows users to customize their Timeline content.

A new ad platform

Jefferies & Co. analyst Brian Pitz told Reuters, "If I were to bet, I'd think it was something that was ad-platform related."

This will be Facebook's first major press event since its bumpy initial public offering in May last year. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said it's unlikely the announcement would be anything that has a financial impact on the company.

He told Reuters, "Why would you announce something that has a financial impact during the quiet period?"

UPDATE: Zuckerberg announced Graph Search, a search tool that would help users access things people had shared with them.

"We are not indexing the web. We are indexing our map of the graph, which is really big and constantly changing. Almost a million new people every day. 240 billion photos. 1 billion people. 1 trillion connections," he said, according to Reuters. "Friend connections, locations, likes, comments, tags, it all adds up to indexing all this content and making it so you can retrieve it instantaneously is a really hard technical problem."

"The search we wanted to built is privacy aware," he said, according to The Verge.

Zuckerberg emphasized that Graph Search is not web search.

Facebook's press release said, "Graph Search will appear as a bigger search bar at the top of each page. When you search for something, that search not only determines the set of results you get, but also serves as a title for the page. You can edit the title – and in doing so create your own custom view of the content you and your friends have shared on Facebook."

The beta version of Graph Search will be available in English and focus on four main areas: people, photos, places and interests. Some examples of things people could search are "people who like tennis and live nearby," "photos of my friends before 1999," and "restaurants in New York liked by chefs."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/companies/130115/facebook-announcement-live-search-engine-timeline-rumors