Facebook has indexed almost two trillion posts put on the site by its members to make it easier to find them- raising new privacy concerns in the process.
The move will let Facebook track more accurately what people are talking about, so that its search tools can offer information about what’s going on.
Facebook hopes that the tool will allow it to become more of a way of finding out what is going on — it will be possible to search for how people are reacting to a news event, for instance, or to find everything that everyone has said about a certain TV show.
However, the move will also make it far easier to find old posts from people that they might not have really intended to be public.
Facebook showed off how searching for “water on mars” would bring up everything that people were saying about Nasa’s announcement — but searching for a more personal, private event would do the same.
Facebook does have an option for hiding posts. Heading to the Settings bar and clicking “See More Settings” brings up the “Who can see my stuff?” option, where privacy options can be changed.
Tom Stocky, Facebook’s head of search, said in a blog post that many people already turned to Facebook when trying to find out how friends and family were reacting to world events. About 1.5 billion searches are carried out on Facebook every day, he said.
The changes that Facebook has introduced will mean members of the social network will now also see posts by strangers alongside those from news organisations and people closest to them.
“Search results are organised to help you cut through the noise and quickly understand what the world is saying about a topic in the moment,” said Stocky.
The post also detailed what Facebook users can do to limit who sees the older posts they shared.
The move puts Facebook into direct competition with Twitter which recently introduced a similar system called Moments.