Facebook Feast: First FriendFeed, Then Improved Facebook Search

Facebook finally launches its new and improved search service, allowing users to find status updates, links and notes of any user who has opted to make their content available to everyone, up to the last 30 days. The move comes hours after Facebook bought FriendFeed, which provides real-time search. In a search free-for-all, Google also opened up a developer sandbox to a new search engine.

Facebook followed its acquisition of FriendFeed Aug. 10 with the official launch of its improved search service, which lets users search their Facebook News Feed and Pages for the last 30 days.

Facebook users will also be able to find status updates, links and notes of any user who has opted to make their content available to everyone, regardless of whether or not they are friends with that person. Search results will continue to include user profiles, groups and applications.

Users who have a problem with everything being searchable may edit their privacy settings here. However, the default setting is for only friends to see content so unless they have changed that they need not worry about all of their content becoming searchable.

Users who want to search for a particular term can simply enter the query in the search box in the upper-right corner of any page. At the results page, users can look to the left of the page filter their searches to view only posts by friends or posts by everyone. Users looking for a specific person, page, group or application, can filter by those results.

Some of the social network's 250 million-plus users may not be used to searching on Facebook, so Facebook Engineering Manager Akhil Wable provided some suggestions of possible search queries on the Facebook blog:

"By being able to search more types of content that are being shared on the site, you can easily find out your friends' evening plans and recently frequented restaurants by searching for "dinner," discover which of your friends are following Michael Schumacher's comeback during the "Formula 1" season by searching for the race series, or query "economy" to see if people or your favorite news sources feel that the recession is turning around. You also can search for a company or product to learn what people are saying about that brand."

In a timely search experiment, Wable did a search on Facebook for FriendFeed after Facebook announced the deal. When he entered "FriendFeed" in the Search field he saw the most recent status updates, reactions and news from his friends who work in technology and people who have chosen to make their content available to everyone.

Facebook began testing its new search last month, but is rolling out these changes out over the course of the next few days. Accordingly, some users may not see the new results right away, Wable warned.

Facebook improved its search to keep up with microblog service Twitter, which is trying to gobble up as many users as it can by indexing tweets in real-time. Interestingly, Facebook is not explicitly offering real-time search just yet; it is, however, making older content readily searchable for up to a month.

One reason Facebook might be steering clear of the real-time search conversation could be the acquisition of FriendFeed, which streams everything, from posts to comments and even search, in real-time.

However, Facebook has not said what it plans to do with FriendFeed beyond allowing the social aggregator to continue to operate. Read more on the FriendFeed buy on TechMeme here.

Facebook is not alone in failing to produce real-time results; Google has not joined that fray, but it did open up a developer sandbox to its new search engine last night. Microsoft's Bing search engine began indexing Twitter tweets in July.

Read more on Facebook search on TechMeme here.