Facebook Adds Suggestions to Search

If you click on a lot of links in your Facebook News Feed (which most of us do), you might notice something new in your search bar. Suggestions of related content that appear like this:


Facebook has started adding search suggestions based on posts that you interacted with. To test out the suggestions and their accuracy, I began clicking on whatever links popped up in my News Feed. Sometimes, Facebook got the suggestions right:


Suggestion: Harry Connick, Jr.
Link: Ten Albums We Think Harry Connick, Jr. Would Like
Relevance: 9/10

Suggestion: Israel
Link: Seven Unbelievable Israeli Defence Technologies That Could Save Your Life
Relevance: 8/10. Not exactly, but close enough.

Suggestion: HBO
Link: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6: Watch the First Trailer
Relevance: 7/10. Again a little tangential, but logical.

In each of these examples, you can see how Facebook (or its algorithm) would make the leap from the articles I clicked to the topics that might interest me. But as with any new feature, the computer also has a tendency to get suggestions very wrong:



Suggestion: Mexico
Link: Mexico’s President Just Told Trump What We’ve All Been Waiting To Say
Relevance: 2/10.  This link is more about “Trump” or “Election” than Mexico.

Suggestion: Chicago
Link: Courageous Man Overcomes Woman’s Body Language To Continue Hitting On Her
Relevance: 0/10. The only thing this satirical article from The Onion has to do with Chicago is that the byline says “CHICAGO”. More appropriate suggestions would be “dating”, “satire”, or “The Onion”.

Suggestion: Hillary Clinton
LinkAngry White Males Propel Donald Trump—and Bernie Sanders
Relevance: 3/10. While the article’s headline specifically mentions Trump and Sanders, the algorithm chose to suggest Hillary Clinton, who is only mentioned briefly in passing.


What It All Means

While the algorithm isn’t perfect (yet), there are still a couple of key takeaways here:

  1. This represents a concerted effort by Facebook to engage their users more consistently and become a more powerful force in the content space.
  2. Facebook is establishing itself in the Search sphere, which is really the one area of online communication that they don’t have quite as strong a foothold. The other three being Social (Facebook), Photo (Instagram), and Messaging (WhatsApp).
  3. Look for marketers and advertisers to be able to use these recent interactions and these search suggestions as a means of targeting content towards users, once these search suggestions become more refined.
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