Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) will now let you search your friends’ status updates, and vice versa, as it continues to expand the functionality of its Graph Search tool, reports Evelyn M. Rusli for The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook graph search

Facebook’s graph search privacy issue

Graph Search, which was launched in August, lets people do more complex searches than just someone’s name or where they went to school. Because the company has so much personal information on its users (who number in the xx), making that data easier to find is always a concern for privacy advocates. Options to restrict access exist, but they have been changed with little or no notice in the past and are sometimes hard to find. People will only get search results that are accessible based on other users’ privacy settings.

Expanding Graph Search to include posts, status updates, comments, and other texts has been part of the plan from the beginning, but Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is intentionally rolling out new features slowly. They will also start by making the feature available to only a small group of users at first, giving them a chance to fix any remaining glitches before it goes live. The feature is also restricted to the web version of Facebook for the time being, though it will eventually be included in the smartphone app as well.

Facebook competing with Twitter

Aside from simply giving Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) another way to encourage people to make new connections and leverage the text data that they have on their site, being able to search posts is part of the company’s plan to compete with Twitter for real-time communication between users. Most people who are active in social media have accounts with both companies and use Twitter for micro-blogging, instead of trying to wade through the complicated privacy settings that allow people to communicate with different audiences through Facebook.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has had a strong year despite investor skepticism early on. It underperformed the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) during the summer, but continued to gain ground when the rest of the market hit a downward correction. There are still concerns about its position in the smartphone market, but increased ad revenue and concrete plans to get people to use the Facebook app more extensively have helped.