Tom Stocky wants to tell you what people think about things that are happening around the world right now. It sounds a lot like the mission of Twitter, but Stocky works for Facebook, tackling a problem the company has continually struggled with: search.
There are 1.5 billion searches a day on Facebook, but the vast majority are for people's names—the kind of search one might surreptitiously conduct after meeting an alluring stranger in a bar. Last October, the company quietly made it possible to search for all public posts on Facebook, not just material posted by friends or pages. Stocky’s team developed the new function, which uses an algorithm to rank and refine trillions of posts from Facebook users. "What we really tried to do was make Facebook a place where you could tap into the global conversation of what was happening in the world," Stocky said at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters, unwittingly (or perhaps not) trotting out a favorite phrase of executives at rival Twitter. "We really want to basically make Facebook the best place to find what people are saying about something right now."