Facebook Discusses Personalized People Search

    July 6, 2007

Facebook’s a formidable entry in the social networking field – we all know this.  But the company’s announcement that it is also doing well in people search (indeed, in Facebook’s own words, it is the “[m]ost used people search engine on the web”) came as a surprise to many.

Granted, a lot of companies say they’re leading in this or that, but Facebook has statistics to back up its claims.  For example, there are “[o]ver 500 million searches per month,” according to Aditya Agarwal, a Facebook Tech Lead, who notes, “This makes us one of the top 20 search engines on the web in terms of number of searches.”

Agarwal also mentions “[a]pproximately 1 terabyte of in-memory data” and an “[a]verage search query time of less than 100ms.”  Not bad.

He goes on to speak about personalized search, as well – this guy hits on all the hot topics.  “Facebook search results are sorted by an approximation of social graph distance,” Agarwal writes.  “People closer to you in the graph – your friends and people in your networks – are likely to be more relevant to you and thus are ranked higher. . . .  Facebook search’s key differentiator is that search results are unique to every user because they are based on a[n] individual’s place in the social graph.”

As for what we should make of all this information, it could be an indicator of a new direction for Facebook – Agarwal does mention “big plans to improve Facebook search.”

Others, such as Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, have taken the post as a “Not So Subtle For Sale Sign.”

In any case, it seems that Facebook is a more powerful entity than many of us ever guessed.