Facebook announces new search toolLast week, in an attempt to take some of the news away from CES, Facebook sent out an invitation letting everyone know that they were holding a press conference this week to announce something big.

Right away speculation moved to the social networking site announcing that they had developed a new mobile phone.

Why else would they have sent the invitation during CES? What it turned out to be was not a phone, but a new way to search through your friends on Facebook. Not exactly the big wow announcement people were expecting.

At 1 pm today Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg announced a feature called Graph Search. This feature will allow users to search through the people that they know using filters that they pick, such as “my friends from my city that like Castle”.  Zuckerburg assures users that it is “privacy aware” and can only bring up information that is already being shared.

The Graph Search feature will appear at the top of the screen, as a bigger search bar than the web search bar that is already there. According to the press release that came out shortly after the press conference, the big focus is on being able to search through people, places, photos and interests, or a search that can link through all of these things.

From the pictures that have been provided, including the little symbol that represents the new search feature, it looks very similar to Google+’s “circle of friends” feature. This was likely the idea, and even though people don’t consider Google+ to be much of a social networking site, it’s apparently getting big enough for Facebook to try and compete.

The problem with this whole idea is that it means that there will be another layout change to Facebook sometime in the next year… basically whenever they decide that Graph Search is ready to go beyond the beta stage of testing.

This really isn’t going to be a popular move for the social networking site, since it seems to happen about one a year anyway.

Also is this search feature really something that people on Facebook were looking for?

Is it really needed to provide such a service when you can already find everything about your friends just by looking up your friends?

In fact when it comes to what your friends like, there is a little note under the like section that tells you who in your friends list likes the same things that you do. The only way that this feature may be needed, is if you’re looking to find specific pictures of your friends for embarrassing reasons.

This is not the announcement we were all expecting and is a bit anticlimactic. We don’t really need a Facebook phone, but did we need a new way to search Facebook? No, we don’t really need that either.