Facebook has begun automatically suggesting links to Facebook pages, groups, interests and even other users this morning, offering a drop-down list of suggestions as you type.
The feature is reminiscent of Google Suggest, which tries to predict what you're searching for by comparing what you type with popular searches, but the Facebook feature looks more directed at allowing you to include links to Facebook pages you're already connected to.
To give the feature a try, simply start typing a status update into Facebook and type the first three letters of someone or something you're already connected to on the site. We played around with it for a bit and it seems the feature is case sensitive, so if you're trying to mention your friend Tommy, you'll need to type "Tom", not just "tom", which seems like a good approach. After all, would you want Facebook to suggest your buddy Tom every time you typed the word "tomorrow"?
Although we didn't doubt it at the time, it looks like there was some method to the madness when, a few months ago, Facebook forced everyone to adopt more uniform interests on their profiles. An auto-suggest feature such as this would be tremendously confusing without more uniform "titles" for interests. That is, by including only items that are properly capitalized, it makes it so that Facebook isn't constantly suggesting pages and items to link to, but only when you're mentioning a proper noun of some sort.
With Facebook's news event this evening and everyone speculating that the company is planning on rolling out its location feature, finally, we can't help but wonder if this has anything to do with the announcement. Does auto-suggesting pages to link to make it easier to include places in your status update?
Currently, the feature does not include external pages that you "Like", but only pages that also have a counterpart on Facebook itself. But now, if you'd like to (just for an example) say how much you like ReadWriteWeb, start typing in "Rea" and - if you're friends with us on Facebook - it will make it easy to link to our page on there.
Of course, typing "@" in your status update offers the same functionality, but the auto-suggest takes it all one step further.