Facebook is getting into the Googling business.
The social network is currently building a search engine that will enable users to look for shareable links within Facebook as opposed to rummaging elsewhere online and then pasting web addresses back into a status update box.
Techcrunch first spotted the pilot program yesterday in the form of a paper clip icon entitled ‘Add a Link’ that started showing up within certain users’ feeds -- right next to the buttons where photos, location and friend tags can also be added to statuses. The feature only exists on iOS devices thus far.
“We’re piloting a new way to add a link that’s been shared on Facebook to your posts and comments,” Facebook told the outlet, adding that it had indexed over one trillion total posts to build the search function. This data is a key differentiator for Facebook’s search function: when users type in keywords, the results are sorted by what is most likely to be shared.
The ‘Add a Link’ feature is just the latest move by Facebook to keep users within its hallowed blue walls. In March, rumors began to swirl that Facebook was courting media giants including The New York Times, Buzzfeed and National Geographic to publish stories natively on Facebook, as opposed to linking back to their own sites, in exchange for ad revenue.
Reportedly dubbed Instant Articles, the initiative would also help to cut down on the eight-second lag time it takes to open external links on mobile devices.