At a much-hyped event in the US this morning NZ time, Facebook launched "Graph Search " - a new feature that turns some of the personal information people have shared on Facebook into a searchable database.
Time's Harry McCracken, one of several bloggers who covered the event live, says examples used to demonstrate Graph Search include "Dublin bars liked by locals," "Dentists liked by my friends," and “Music liked by people who like Mitt Romney.”
Facebook also demonstrated new privacy controls at the event. Users will be able to control who sees what in Graph Search, the social network says.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Microsoft's search engine, Bing, is now integrated into the social network, so you can do web searches within Facebook.
Graph Search will be available to a small number of trial users from today, and gradually rolled out to others. Mr Zuckerberg did not offer a timetable.
The new feature can be previewed and tried out at www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch.
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Facebook's official launch video.
Facebook will encourage users to rate places and services to boost Graph Search's appeal, Mr Zuckerberg said.
Despite fast-growing revenue, Facebook has been struggling to make profit from its one billion users. It lost $US56 million on revenue that rose 31% to $US1.26 billion in the third quarter. No doubt the social network will be hoping search advertising will prove as lucrative as it has for high-earning Google.
The company's shares, which have enjoyed a recent run-up, were down 1.06% to $US30.62.
Facebook Nasdaq performance since May 2012 IPO. S&P Capital IQ. Click to zoom.