Some mobile users on Facebook’s iPhone app are now being offered an “Add a Link” option when they post status updates. After selecting the button, users can type in keywords and see search results listing articles on a given topic that have already been shared on Facebook.
A company spokesperson said the option is simply a pilot for now.
The feature is another step in Facebook’s continued expansion of the uses of its massive trove of more than one trillion indexed user posts. Last year, the company made it easier for users to use keywords to pull up old posts about any topic, but the results often appear haphazardly and in seemingly random order. This new functionality seems to provide a more focused application of Facebook’s search feature by focusing on links to other content online.
The “Add a Link” option, if rolled out fully, could pose a threat to Google. If Facebook can keep people within its walls even when they’re looking for stories, it will have more opportunities to have them engage with more content, including ads in the News Feed. The company can also use the feature to nudge people toward sharing the kinds of “high-quality” articles that Facebook gives a preference to in the News Feed over meme images and similar content.