Social search — the ability to find what people are tweeting on Twitter or sharing on Facebook — is heating up. Last week Scoopler began offering near-realtime search of Web content shared by users on Twitter, Flickr, Digg, del.icio.us, and other social networks. Today, San Francisco-based OneRiot went live with its own high-speed search of the content being shared on social networks.
As seen in the results of a search for Spock, OneRiot returns not only the most popular one to three pages linked that match a given keyword, it also displays the names and avatars of, at this moment, the 606 social network members who linked. Click the “expand” link beneath a result to see who shared it. The results page updates every five to six seconds, continuing a trend begun by FriendFeed.
OneRiot general manager Tobias Peggs says the company crawls the links people share on Twitter, Digg and other social sharing services, then indexes the content on those pages in under a minute. Searches are filtered for spam. Duplicate links from URL shortening sites like Bit.ly and Tinyurl are reconciled.
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OneRiot’s relevance algorithm has 26 parameters by which it determines a link’s importance. Most important is the sheer number of links to a URL, and the “velocity” — how fast the number of links to a URL has climbed within the past two minutes. If you specify a domain name, for example “venturebeat.com” instead of “venturebeat,” OneRiot will return the hot links from that domain. Try it with CNN.com.
Results in our tests were mixed. For a search of VentureBeat content linked from Twitter, Scoopler found far more stories. But OneRiot’s results for “Spock” zeroed in on Monday’s hot online gossip much more clearly: In the new Star Trek movie, actor Zachary Quinto had his fingers glued together to perform the traditional Vulcan “live long and prosper” greeting.
In an interview, Peggs said he thinks Google misses the sweet spot of social network search by serving a Web index of everything on the Internet and a News search of serious journalism outlets.
“Increasingly, the web’s most interesting content is what our friends and other people are talking about, sharing and looking at right now,” Peggs wrote in a self-authored press release. “Traditional search engines struggle to surface these fresh, socially-relevant results. That’s the hole –- and it’s a big one –- that OneRiot is filling.”
OneRiot was founder by Robert Reich and Peter Newcomb in 2006 and formally launched last November. The company’s series A funding of $5.3 million came from Spark Capital and Appian Ventures. Last May, OneRiot closed a B round with another $15 million. The company currently counts 28 employees.