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Facebook and FriendFeed: forget about Google

Facebook FriendFeedSpeculation that Facebook is on its way to becoming a full-fledged search engine is, well, odd. Merely buying four former top Google engineers when acquiring FriendFeed does not a new search engine make. And it's a bad idea, besides.

What's more, Facebook has too much work to do on its core social-networking platform to also build a next-generation search engine. Better to cut a deal with Bing, I think, if a general-purpose search engine is what Facebook wants.

The new search features on Facebook, allowing you to see in real-time what at least some users are posting on their FB pages, don't much interest me, but succeeds in making the service all the more Twitter-like. That seems to have been an important goal at Facebook and I hope they now will move on.

Purchasing FriendFeed, which seemed to be going nowhere, seems like an enlightened act of charity. The four previously mentioned former Google stars that founded the company get a graceful exit from FriendFeed and an excuse when the service eventually shuts down.

Facebook might benefit from some of Friendfeed's functionality, which was essentially as an aggregator of a user's various social network feeds. I have a FriendFeed account but never used it because I had better things to do than approve the same friends a second time and interact with another service.

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Adding FriendFeed to Facebook would solve that problem and make the service easier to use, sitting as it would on many people's primary social network. It demonstrates that just because a company has created something more akin to a product feature than a full-fledged product doesn't means it won't eventually find a good home.

The real value of the new FB search tool will blossom only once the service's 250 million users start using the service's new privacy features to make their status updates viewable (and searchable) by everyone.

Mine is already set that way, because my Facebook page is in some ways an extension of this blog - but be warned it's very political.

Most people, I think, consider Facebook's ability to limit the reach of their postings to be more of a benefit than a hassle. That works against the value of a systemwide Facebook search capability.

Circling back, I think the only value of adding a Google-like total internet search to Facebook would be its ability to generate revenue in amounts that have eluded FB thus far. But, as I said, this can be done quite effectively though a search partnership that avoids FB having to create an entirely new technology platform.

David Coursey blogs for PCWorld.com

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