Oneupweb Reviews: Cuil’s Facebook Results

Cuil, an engine founded by ex-Google search experts Tom Costello and Anna Patterson, is now indexing Facebook pages.

According to Technology Review, Facebook granted Cuil access to user profiles after establishing three ground rules:

  • Cuil cannot grant other search engines access to Facebook profiles
  • Facebook users must grant Cuil permission to access their profile
  • Facebook results can only be accessed by the searcher

These stipulations are a stab at maintaining some of the privacy that Facebook’s “walled garden” is famous for. While a variety of social search engines index content from Twitter, Delicious and many other sharing sites, Cuil is the first to be granted access to Facebook profiles. This begs the question: Why Cuil?

Quantcast, a free analytic tool that tracks web property traffic, reports Cuil has few visitors. Like its search competitor Ask, Cuil is circling the drain.

Whatever the reason, Cuil’s Facebook results aren’t all that relevant to my queries.

I performed a few searches to test Cuil’s Facebook results. I discovered that, like Twitter posts, these wall comments are not relevant to my search results unless they contain links to more relevant information.

Maybe when social search evolves (or my friends suddenly have something to say other than “why can’t I win the lottery?” or “Look, it’s snowing!”) there will be a better way of filtering through these posts for meaningful information. Right now, Cuil’s access to my friends through Facebook Connect isn’t providing what I would consider meaningful search results.

Like tweets, posts to the Facebook wall are more useful when those messages contain links to articles or other websites that provide additional information about my query. Cuil didn’t return a single result that contained one of these links. And I know that my friends have posted links to “apple pie recipes,” one of the four search queries that I conducted. My other queries were for information about “discount snow tires,” “snow tire reviews,” and “Christmas gift ideas.”

I will admit that Cuil’s results were better than Facebook’s internal search results. But neither of these search results shows reviews or posted links from my friends.

Overall, I hate being too critical of Cuil’s latest social update. There is real potential in information posted in Facebook profiles. Sooner or later the search engines and social networks will find a way to marry their capabilities for results that may, for example, highlight reviews made by your friends. That said, at least Cuil has a clean design that lets you easily share websites directly from the SERP, while also allowing you to read some of what your friends are saying about a certain topic.

Oneupweb Reviews: Oneup Thumbs-Sideways (Clean design makes it easy to see your friends comments next to regular website results, but the Facebook Results don’t seem to return links your friends have posted.)