Facebook Rolls Out Live Search…Wait, Where'd It Go? Oh, There It Is.

It’s been a long time coming, but it appears as though Facebook finally has begun integrating Live Search into its main search bar, thereby providing web search in addition to its preexisting profile search capabilities.

The functionality appeared earlier today for users, only to disappear again. Facebook published an official post about it only to take that down as well . Microsoft’s own post, however, can still be found here.

Update: Web search is now back, as is Facebook’s post about it. See our observations below.

The integration is a natural consequence of Microsoft’s $250 million investment in Facebook last Fall. Google has a similar deal in place with competitor MySpace.

Once it’s back up we’ll get a chance to see how web search affects Facebook’s autocomplete suggestion system, and whether or not results are tailored to your profile information. After more time pasts, we’ll also see whether this partnership can stem the continual loss of Microsoft’s search marketshare to Google.

According to Microsoft’s post above, Facebook is using adCenter to display advertisements alongside results.

Venturebeat managed to capture the following screenshots before the integration was removed (presumably only temporarily).

Update 2: Since it’s back, we’ve had a chance to try it out and make a few observations:

  • The search bar still suggests friends as it did before. If you enter a term that doesn’t match a friend’s name, it will ask whether you want to search the web or Facebook. The option for web search is second and requires users to hit the down arrow on their keyboards, so it will probably suffer from that.
  • The advertisements appear to be a mix of Facebook’s own ads and those served by adCenter
  • The formatting of the results is a little clunky. It would be better if they stuck to the traditional formatting found on Live.com itself and other engines like Yahoo and Google
  • The Facebook web search implementation doesn’t show image results, etc — just basic webpage results
  • The results are not the exact same as on Live.com but they’re close
  • Sponsored results do not show up on the top of all other results. The advertisements are all placed in a right-hand rail
  • If you view search results by all types, the “Web” tab is the furthest to the right on top of the page, after People, Pages, Groups, Events, and Applications. It really doesn’t look like Facebook is giving web search much prominence, at least in its current incarnation.
  • Facebook’s blog post says this is only available to visitors from the United States, but Orli in the comments below seems to have access from Israel