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Mark Zuckerberg's search ambitions are Google-sized

In a Q&A with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the Facebook CEO revealed just how big an opportunity he thinks search is for the social network.


Ever since Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt last month and mentioned that Facebook was working on search, there's been plenty of speculation about just how that will play out. The examples Zuckerberg gave to illustrate how search might work suggested a potentially powerful version of question-and-answer sites such as Quora with a mixture of Yelp, the reviews site. (Here's CNET's take.)

Facebook, Zuckerberg argued, is "uniquely positioned" to answer such questions as, "What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the last six months and Liked?" Or, "Which of my friends or friends of friends work in a company I might like to work at?'"

The whole proposition becomes even more compelling given that today Facebook announced it had reached one billion monthly users. Facebook also recently said it had begun tracking what Facebook members search for on the site.

While it's clear Facebook isn't building anything that would resemble Google, in an interview today with Bloomberg BusinessWeek Zuckerberg expanded on the enormity of the search opportunity he sees for Facebook. The idea, he said, is to expand the News Feed into a place where Facebook users don't just see what friends are saying and brands are promoting, but they in fact get a smart way to navigate the entire Web outside of Facebook's walls. And he suggests a direct attack on how Google let's users navigate the Web.

"The whole vision around News Feed was it should be like a newspaper and shouldn't just be a list of posts your friends are making," he told the magazine. "I mean we should be able to really show you interesting trends and things that are happening."

He went on:

There are already trillions of connections between friend requests and all the content that's being pushed into the system. At some point, that will start to be a better map of how you navigate the Web than the traditional link structure of the Web. I think there's an opportunity to really build something interesting there.

That's a tall order, of course, and Zuckerberg is talking about several years out. But you can be sure that Sergey Brin and his team at Google are paying close attention.