Live Blog: Facebook Event

Photograph by Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Facebook plans to show off what it’s been working on during a news conference at its headquarters.

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11:15 a.m. Facebook’s searchapalooza event has come to an end.

11:12 a.m. Hey, Zuck! Remember that company you agreed to spend $1 billion on? Will we be able to search for Instagram photos? “That should be on the list of things that we will hopefully one day get to,” Zuckerberg said.

11:09 a.m. Facebook added search suggestions on the right of the screen based on user testing, Stocky said. “Like all products, we have a way of testing it with users.” Facebook has to adjust to people having been trained to formulate search queries in weirdo computer speak, like, “friends new york,” Zuckerberg said. Facebook’s search was designed to handle queries that sound like something you might say out loud, not just to a computer.

11:06 a.m. Zuckerberg said Facebook held exploratory talks with Google about the search engine. “Microsoft was more willing to do things that were specific to Facebook,” Zuckerberg said. “That was the biggest stumbling block.” He added: “That is, at least, where the discussion fell apart the last time that we talked to [Google] about it.”

11:04 a.m. The new Facebook search will only work in English for now, Zuckerberg said. Facebook “had to draw the line” about what it wanted to accomplish, and natural-language computing is tough, Zuckerberg said.

11:03 a.m. People aren’t going to stop using Google in favor of the search box. Sure, the Facebook search will include results from Bing, Zuckerberg said. “We don’t have any concept that people are going to come to Facebook to do Web search,” he said.

11:01 a.m. My colleague Brian Womack asked whether there was any consideration whatsoever of working with Google on the Facebook search tool. “I would love to work with Google,” Zuckerberg said with a smirk. “We would love to work with any search company … as long as the companies are willing to honor the privacy of the folks that are sharing their content on Facebook.”

10:57 a.m. So … you run a public company now, right? How is this going to make money? “This could potentially be a business over time,” Zuckerberg said. The search engine will follow the same philosophy that made Facebook a money-losing business — until it wasn’t. “You build a good business over time by building something people want,” Zuckerberg said.

10:56 a.m. Uber tech blogger Robert Scoble asked if developers will be able to tap into Facebook’s search engine for their applications. Not at the start, Zuckerberg said. “We have years and years of work ahead of us.”

10:54 a.m. First question is about privacy. Expect many more of these. Zuckerberg said no new data is being surfaced in the search engine that’s not already available somewhere in the rest of the Facebook site.

10:53 a.m. After a brief video set to the tune of a Sigur Ros song, Zuckerberg concluded the presentation. “Graph Search is the kind of product that we love to build at Facebook,” Zuckerberg said. “What you’ve seen today is a really different product from what’s out there.” Facebook executives will begin taking questions from the journalists in the room.

10:50 a.m. Don’t expect to use the new Facebook search feature any time soon. “We’re going to start rolling it out very slowly,” Zuckerberg said. “We need to start getting data on how people use it in order to improve the product.” Facebook will turn search on for more people “over the coming weeks and months,” Zuckerberg said.

10:48 a.m.  “There’s one more thing,” Zuckerberg said. Like the old Facebook search engine, the new one will integrate with Microsoft’s Bing. So if you search for weather, Bing steps in.

10:46 a.m. Zuckerberg took the stage again after the demo. “This is one of the coolest things we’ve done in a while,” he said. Zuckerberg emphasized the privacy protections, and said the company will allow people to tinker with their settings before the feature rolls out. “We’re going to put an encouragement on the home screen of everyone’s account,” he said.

10:44 a.m. Now for the requisite bit about privacy. “We realized that people are going to care about what shows up about them in search,” Stocky said. Pay careful attention to this lesson, kids. You’ll probably be walking your parents through this at the next holiday get-together. On the site’s “privacy settings” page, users can see what shows up in search and turn things off selectively.

10:41 a.m. Many of these features don’t seem very useful unless you and your friends use Facebook religiously. For example, Rasmussen types in: “restaurants liked by my friends in India.” How many Facebook friends do you have in India?

10:39 a.m. Rasmussen took over for the “places” portion of the demo. His expertise in building Google Maps surely came in handy with this. Facebook’s place search appears to be the feature that aims most directly at Google’s Maps and Zagat. The tool enables users to find restaurants based on friends’ recommendations. “But it doesn’t have to be limited to your friends,” Rasmussen said.

10:34 a.m. The “interests” portion of Facebook search offers lots of recommendations. Stocky searched for movies and television shows his friends have “Liked” on Facebook. The page also lists programs that are similar to the shows his friends like, based on other data. “For people like me, who spend hours staring blankly at my Netflix queue, this is the solution to that,” Stocky said.

10:30 a.m. More use cases: Rasmussen was planning a hypothetical hike, and searched for: “Photos of my friends taken in national parks.” And in case you want to see pictures of your friends when they were babies or had awesome feathered hairdos, search for: “photos of my friends taken before 1990.”

10:25 a.m. OK, this is starting to make sense. Let’s say you meet someone at a party, and can’t remember her name, but you know some other details. Search for, say, “people who are friends of Lars and went to Stanford.”

10:20 a.m. Stocky and Rasmussen ran a search query to find out which of their friends like both “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter.” Hopefully there are more uses for this besides organizing “cosplay” parties.

10:19 a.m. Zuckerberg gave the example of throwing a “Game of Thrones” party. But he didn’t know who of his friends are fans of the HBO show. So he did a Facebook search. Simple enough. Rasmussen and Tom Stocky have taken the stage to demonstrate more.

10:16 a.m. The search engine is called Graph Search. Lars Rasmussen, a Google Maps co-founder, worked on it. (Bloomberg Businessweek broke that news almost a year ago.) “I want to emphasize how early we are in Graph Search,” Zuckerberg said. The initial version will cover content about people, photos, places and interests, he said. “These cases are really useful.”

10:13 a.m. “We spent a long time working on this, and we came up with an interface that we think is unique,” Zuckerberg said. “Filters.” A slide shows a page full of tags, like the old Delicious. The crowd is a bit confused for a moment. “No, that’s my joke,” Zuckerberg said. More nerd humor.

10:12 a.m. Zuckerberg’s first example to demonstrate the difference between Facebook’s social-networking search and Google’s Web search is, “What is hip hop?” Something tells me he’s not a rap fan.

10:10 a.m. The third pillar of Facebook will be a search, Zuckerberg said. But this isn’t Web search, like Google, he added. “The search that we wanted to build is privacy-aware,” he said.

10:08 a.m. Zuckerberg’s version of nostalgia is pretty geeky. He said Facebook is all about “queries.” Zuckerberg introduces the concept of “the pillars of the Facebook product ecosystem.” News Feed, for example, is “what is going on in the world around you.” The second pillar is the Timeline profiles. He said Facebook is announcing its third pillar.

10:06 a.m. Zuckerberg said he’s excited to be hosting the company’s first news conference at its spiffy new offices. And he’s getting nostalgic on us, and will take us back to Facebook’s “roots.”

10:04 a.m. The stark white room here at Facebook’s Building 13 is full of journalists tapping away at keyboards. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has just taken the stage.

9:50 a.m. In about 10 minutes or so, Facebook will finally unveil its latest projects. Executives have remained mum about what to expect since the company sent out invitations last week. Investors are sure to watch this event closely for potential moneymakers, especially those catered to smartphone users. And the 1 billion or so people who check the site regularly should be curious to see how Facebook will try to suck up more of their time. I’ll be posting updates here from the news conference at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California — in between refreshing my News Feed.

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