In a shroud of mystery that could have been taken from the Steve Jobs Playbook, Facebook on Tuesday unveiled it's new "Graph Search" — a feature CEO Mark Zuckerberg described as the "third pillar" of the social network.
The feature will make it easier for users to find content that has been shared on their Timeline and News Feed, as well as on that of their friends'.
It thus gives users the ability to search their "social graphs" for people that share similar interests or locations.
As an example, Zuckerberg showed off the search by looking up Palo Alto-based friends who like HBO's "Game of Thrones" and suggested this could make it easier to organize a viewing party.
It is focused on four main areas: People, photos, places and interest. This puts Facebook in direct competition with sites like Google Local and Yelp.
Users can also search "Photos I like" and see things they've interacted with throughout the years.
But he made it clear the company is "not indexing the web. We are indexing our map of the graph, which is really big and constantly changing. Almost a million new people every day: 240 billion photos. 1 billion people. 1 trillion connections"
To add some zest to the secret announcement, Zuckerberg followed a well-known pattern set by Apple. The world's largest social network said it had a big announcement coming on Thursday, inviting reporters to "come see what we're building" — but giving no details. That left analysts scrambling for hints of what was to come.
In the lead-up to the event, speculation focused on an array of ideas, including a Facebook smartphone, a new video advertising product, expansion of its Gifts e-commerce initiative and deeper integration with phone carriers.
The press event comes two weeks before Facebook announced its fourth-quarter earnings.