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Facebook Updates Its Status as Search Engine, But Changes Met with Some Concerns

Santa Barbara business professionals can see the value in the newest features, but at least one user calls them an invasion of privacy

As Facebook continues to expand its strategic partnerships, such as its one with Yahoo!, the largest social network has a very realistic chance of replacing Google as the primary search engine, according to Santa Barbara entrepreneur and Noospheric founder Jacques Habra.

“The irony is, the only reason Google got into social networking is because the threat of Facebook replacing Google as the primary search engine,” he said. “That’s a very realistic chance.”

The new Yahoo! News feature, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released with the Facebook Open Graph on Thursday, automatically broadcasts what news friends are reading on Facebook and Yahoo!

A row of friends’ faces appear above any article a user reads, displaying their recent activity. The “You on Yahoo News” widget features articles that have been read, and allows the option to remove stories from the feed and turn off the social feature altogether.

“Zuckerberg wants everything to filter through Facebook,” Habra said. “They will literally try to make partnerships with every top media entity so people will consume media through the Facebook platform.”

He said Facebook has the upper hand because people would rather listen to their friends than take advice from a machine.

“The question has become, do you trust content that is coming from Facebook that is supposedly approved or processed from a friend or a computer’s organization of the supposed most relevant responses with Google?” Habra said.

The Yahoo! News feature is part of Facebook’s Open Graph platform that essentially allows the sharing of all sorts of actions and information from different apps and services.

UCSB senior Melonie Karlsson, a nutrition major, called the updates invasive.

“Although it may be useful to find different stories one might not read on their own, it’s more of an invasion of privacy,” she said. “If I want people to see what I’m reading I will post it to my wall and not have them know what I’m doing at all times.”

The Facebook Timeline is another update that revamped profiles by allowing users to highlight information shared on Facebook that they deem important.

“The Timeline is huge because for the longest time people were actually copying and pasting profile content on a blog to have an archive,” Habra said. “It can save a major step.”

From a business perspective, the Facebook updates will serve as a reminder for Santa Barbara businesses to use the social media tool, according to Web Marketing Therapy founder Lorrie Thomas.

“Especially being a small-business owner in Santa Barbara, people will realize they need to get in there and use social media,” she said. “Many businesses are still grossly behind the curve in terms of social media to build your brand and boost business.”

Facebook’s updates are just another phase of the back-and-forth nature of the social network “boxing match,” Habra said.

“Every time Google Plus launches a new feature, Facebook’s success will depend on how fast Facebook will respond with its own update,” he said. “That’s what will make them the No. 1 site on the Internet.”

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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