Facebook has announced a new search tool on its social networking site called Graph Search.
Graph Search has been introduced to make searching content on Facebook easier and more useful. The news finally puts to bed the rumour and hype surrounding a possible Facebook branded smartphone or tablet.
Facebook said: "When Facebook first launched, the main way most people used the site was to browse around, learn about people and make new connections. Graph Search takes us back to our roots and allows people to use the graph to make new connections."
Many are claiming the move puts Facebook in direct competition with Google and its popular search engine but the social networking site said Graph Search is 'very different' to web search. Graph Search will combine a phrase like "my friends in London who like Coldplay" to return results of those people, places, photos or other related content on Facebook.
However, users can also conduct a web search from within Facebook using Microsoft's Bing engine. The firm said: "when people want to search beyond Facebook, they see web search results from Bing with social context and additional information such as Facebook pages."
At launch, Graph Search includes four main search areas – friends, photos, places and interests. Examples of searches include: "people who like tennis and live nearby", "photos of my family", "restaurants in New York liked by chefs" and "languages my friends speak".
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, insisted that privacy has been considered from the start of building Graph Search. It 'respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content' so users won't see anything they couldn't see before.
The news comes after Facebook saw a 600,000 decline in users during December in the UK.
Graph Search has launched as a preview only Beta test in the US and Facebook expects the roll out to be slow in order to show people how to use it properly and make improvements. So we don't expect it to reach the UK for a while yet.