Searching is Better When You Ask Facebook Friends

I have been carrying two issues of Wired around in ‘the Abyss’ as my backpack is known, and last night finally got a chance to read the July issue. Among a bunch of fascinating stories was a provocative piece about how Facebook intends to dominate the web and keep Google out.

The story by Fred Vogelstein begins with an anecdote about Larry Page becoming very upset when his bid to buy a stake in Facebook in 2007 was thwarted by arch-rival Microsoft. Facebook allowed the software maker to buy the small stake but said no to Google.

Vogelstein outlines a 4-step plan for ‘online domination,’ beginning with building critical mass by getting more and more registered users. They’re now up to 200 million, and amass 850 million photos, 8 million videos and lots more info on their servers every month.

Facebook’s intent, says Vogelstein, is to redefine search so that members will rely on their FB friends, rather than impersonal Google searches, to find what they want and navigate the web. The other goal will be to follow Google in selling targeted ads using the vast amount of personal information FB stores on more than 40,000 servers.

An FB friend today posted a warning, advising her friends to change the settings so that this information can’t be stored by FB, or used to sell ads. But it may be too late. The story ends with a parallel…Google’s first five years of life didn’t even include the money-tree that is AdWords, they just developed a great search engine. It was only later that they, like FB, found out how to mint money by the ads.

Is FB going to be the Google killer?