6 reasons to ignore Facebook search (for now)
Ian Lurie Sep 13 2012
I’m ready to party like it’s 1999! The bubble is back. Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook may build a search engine. We all hyperventilate and swoon. Facebook shares go up 7.7% so fast the line chart breaks:
Batten down the hatches, Google! The big bad Facebook has set its sights on you!
Take a deep breath, everyone.
This is an awful lot of hype over something that only exists in Mark Zuckerberg’s mind. Here are 6 reasons to take a deep breath, hold on to your money, and stop measuring Google for a casket:
- Lack of proof. Facebook’s current search technology is a laughingstock in the search community. Before I get all excited about a legitimate Google competitor, I need evidence Facebook has the know-how to not make an utter fool of themselves.
- Lack of expertise. Search is really complicated. I won’t say it’s more complicated than building a social network, but I will say it’s very different. Where will Facebook get their expertise? Yes, a few Googlers have jumped ship. But that’s not enough. They need true search visionaries leading the team.
- Spam. You can’t base a search engine purely on EdgeRank (part of Facebook’s authority/connection measurement algorithm). It’s far too easy to manipulate. If you think Google’s search results are riddled with spam, wait ’til you can rank #1 in Facebook Search with $200 and a Mechanical Turk account.
- Privacy. A competitive Facebook search tool will have to capitalize on the wealth of user data they have. That will reveal huge, ongoing privacy issues we all previously ignored.
- Other failures. Before Facebook talks search, they need a mobile app that loads in a reasonable time. And fix the blank squares photo issue. And figure out how to perfect their ad platform. And make up for their e-mail switch debacle. And… You get the picture. Search would be their biggest undertaking, ever. Better prove you can knock out the simple stuff first, guys.
- Only a flesh wound. Even if Facebook succeeds, it will hardly ‘kill’ Google. Will it make a dent in their market share? Yes, and that’d be a really good thing. But it won’t do a company who’s name is now a synonym for ‘search’ any fatal damage.
Where’s the search?
If you want me to jump on the Facebook Search Bandwagon, show me something. Anything. Show me one sign that Facebook understands search. Show me search results that aren’t recycled from Bing. Demonstrate you can build and deploy a decent mobile app.
Right now, Facebook search is 100% pure vapor. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the Chicago Tribune:
“But it was Zuckerberg’s talk of search that had Wall Street analysts and technology insiders abuzz on Wednesday, even if they couldn’t agree on what exactly a Facebook search service would look like or how imminent such a service was.” —Chicago Tribune
Understand: I’m no Google fanboy. But the big G still has technology decades ahead of everyone else, and they’ve cornered the market on the best information discovery brains in the business. What, exactly, is Facebook’s ace in the hole here?
Discuss below. Or talk to me on Twitter
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More