SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Social networking company Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a new feature to help search the information shared among hundreds of millions of its users.
The new tool, called Graph Search, is different from web search engine as it gives users the answer and not links to answers, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a press event held at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
"You want a search tool that can help you get access to things people have shared with you," he said.
Unlike web search that is designed to provide the best possible results matching a set of keywords, the Graph Search feature will allow users to search with phrases to get people, places, photos or other content shared on Facebook.
The new tool is seen as a sign of the intensified competition between Facebook and Internet search giant Google.
But some analysts said Facebook still has a long way to go to crack the search market now dominated by Google.
"Facebook Graph Search is not a web search engine, but a search tool designed to enrich the Facebook platform and experience for both users and advertisers," Eden Zoller, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, said in an emailed statement.
"This is sensible as a full blown web search engine from Facebook would inevitably have to compete with Google search, and given Google's dominance of the search market it would be hard for Facebook to make a serious impact -- and win advertising dollars," Zoller added.
As the world's largest online social network, Facebook now has over 1 billion users who have built 1 trillion connections and shared more than 240 billion photos on the site.
The Graph Search will provide a new way to navigate these connections and make them more useful, the company noted in a press release.
The new feature is available from Tuesday only in English as a beta or limited preview version which allows users to search for only a subset of content on the social networking site.
The company said it is planning to launch the Graph Search to the public in the coming weeks and months.