How Facebook Handles Questions Could Play Key Role in Future Search Habits

Will Facebook Keep Data To Itself or Share with Search Engines?

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Facebook’s new Questions product, launched in beta earlier this week, has a great deal of potential for answering the questions of half a billion people (the most recent number of Facebook users reported by the company).

Will you use Facebook Questions to seek answers? Let us know.

As competition between Facebook and Google over Internet user time and attention continues to increase, this may be yet another area where Facebook has a bit of leverage over the search giant. Q&A is becoming a big area of focus throughout the industry with many smaller players fighting for a piece of the pie (not that all of the players are small).

Google has Aardvark, which it has yet to really do anything incredibly significant with (at least related to Google search). Yahoo, of course, has Yahoo Answers. Ask just reinvented itself with a focus on community and web-driven Q&A. That’s just a few examples. Facebook has a major advantage, however, with that half a billion users, and the simple fact that many of those users spend a great deal of time using Facebook.

Facebook Questions data could be very useful to search engines and their users, if the product itself lives up to its own potential, but it remains to be seen if Facebook will be willing to share that information. The company is already notorious for being stingy with its data, from the open web perspective, despite its own "open" graph initiative.

Facebook told Search Engine Land that it doesn’t have plans to give search engines access to its questions and answers, though they didn’t rule out future consideration. The decision could be an important one strategically for the company in the future, particularly as Google continues to move toward trying to steal some of Facebook’s thunder (the key word there being "trying"…I should mention this notion has been downplayed by the company).

Microsoft has to be pretty interested as well, as it is frequently looking for new ways to compete with Google and it already provides Facebook with its own web search results.

Q&A is becoming an increasingly interesting segment of the search industry, and one where there is distinct possibility of shaking up Google’s share, thanks to an increasing number of players, the diversification of how people actually do their searching/information gathering, and blossoming mobile application ecosystems.

Facebook, Google, and increasingly Bing all have their places in these ecosystems, and Facebook Questions could conceivably play a powerful role in tipping x amount of searches in one direction or another.

Do you see Facebook Questions as a potential disruption to the search industry? Share your thoughts in the comments.

How Facebook Handles Questions Could Play Key Role in Future Search Habits
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  • http://growthinharmony.com Reid

    I think that Facebook users will take advantage of the search/Q&A, however, it will remain something of social nature. What I mean by that is the users will ask for recommendations for a place to grab lunch or something more social and less of intelligence. In fact, I’m seeing it already in people’s status updates.

    Google use might slow down and become focused on logical/statistical/intelligent information data (like it’s not already.)

    It all depends on the trends of user search. Are we going to get dumber and ask stupid questions (did I just write that?) If so, social search/ q&a may be the next wave.

    • Chris Crum

      As you said, people are already asking questions in their status updates. They’re asking them on Twitter. With Facebook’s huge user base, it could conceivably provide some pretty interesting data that search engines could find great value in. Combined with real-time filtering, it could be even more powerful.

      Let’s say I am going to a concert and there are five bands, but I don’t have any interest in seeing the first 2. What if I could ask if the first band had finished playing to make my decision about whether to head to the venue. It would certainly depend on Facebook user participation, but real-time questions on a mass scale (and possibly even combined with location elements) could be pretty valuable in a lot of different scenarios.

  • Angy

    Google used to have a highly professional Q&A service called Google Answers, which it closed down.

    • Chris Crum

      It did close down Google Answers, but the company evidently sees value in the space still, as it recently purchased Aardvark. We’ll see what happens with that.

  • Guest

    Don’t we have already few websites with Answers and Questions?
    Rearding Facebook, I think that will go down soon, as is trying to be everything.
    When you try to be everything, you are nothing.

    It should be social network for family and friends, and not everything else: commercials, same cliche games (violent ones), there is no freedom of speach or expression.

    There should be a commission of psychologists that will determine how Facebook is influencing development of youth and to ban using a facbook in working hours for people working in an office.

    • http://www.bnicentralsewa.com Doug

      We use Facebook to help provide information to clients and the general public. We see no reason to use questions and answers through Facebook. Any time an online service has too much information about us we have to assume the entire world has it. We have even considered dropping Facebook for that reason. Offer them more about our habits? Don’t think so!

  • http://www.jacksononthemoon.com Sharon J

    What could a bunch of people who like to play Farmville, build aquariums and upload photos of each other puking etc. ..what could they possibly have to tell me? I use Facebook 2 or 3 times a month to connect with friends, and that is it. If I want to find answers I try to go to reputable sites authored by people who know what they are talking about.

  • http://christianityetc.org Bob

    Asking questions is a basic process for learning, but it is not easy to ask the right questions, a good question that will lead a person to an important learning. In one’s search for “quality” content, there is too much attention being given to the question of “What do you like?” rather than to questions regarding “What is really good?”. Popular programs, like Facebook, may have a difficult time addressing questions that get to answers that may not be popular.

    • Guest

      Hell no, Facebook is a social network site. It has no business entering into the realm of information. I’d use Google to search for answers i need, not some socialite site.

  • http://www.maineusa.net jh

    I use Facebook for family connections only. I don’t believe I would trust answers to any questions found on Facebook.

  • http://surf-find.net Guest

    No, Facebook is a social network site. It has no business entering into the realm of information.

  • http://www.whatsnewonthenet.com/index.php What’s new on the Internet

    Facebook is obviously evolving from just a plain vanilla social site to something more. Facebook Q is another step in that direction. If it’s business plan is in place, it obviously would not like to share its research with other search engines, now that it has 500 million+ users.


    For me Facebook should be everything. Kung baga sa shopping, a ONE-STOP-SHOP establishment na. Na kung sa gayo’y one can SAVE TIME. And it will be CONVENIENT. Ang limitasyon lang jan dapat merong PRIVA(TE)cy This is one na hindi ko nakita sa Facebook. Parang everything is made public. Dapat may private side din. So dapat ang Facebook ay pwedeng:

    1. BROWSER

  • http://africatopforum.com perfecrt

    Well, the battle continues all in favor of users.

  • Yina

    information of video game,console,accessories

  • http://2ndinstinct.com Guest

    Facebook is certainly trying to enter the search market with its recent Questions application. Though it differs from Google, it’s still a step in the search engine giant’s direction. Google, however, is rumored to be working on a new social network to compete with Facebook. I write more about this in an article on my blog here http://bit.ly/dDA5AX

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