It's sort of cute, really: blogger Robert Scoble went on a nice snowy stroll with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg while the two were in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. Of course, he wrote about it.
Most of what Scoble wrote about his conversation with the young CEO is either information that was out there already or tidbits like the fact that Zuckerberg was teaming up with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to work the coat check at the World Economic Forum's annual Women's Dinner (aww!), but there was one fairly interesting part: apparently, Facebook is doing some extensive research into tracking user sentiment, and it has a lot of data on hand but isn't yet sure how it will be used.
"Facebook is, he told me, studying 'sentiment' behavior," Scoble wrote. Keep in mind that he's not actually quoting Zuckerberg, so this may be a bit general. "He said that already, his teams are able to sense when nasty news, like stock prices are headed down, is under way. He also told me that the sentiment engine notices a lot of 'going out' kinds of messages on Friday afternoon and then notices a lot of 'hungover' messages on Saturday morning. He's not sure where that research will lead."
We've had a peek at this already with Facebook Lexicon, the social network's trend-tracking search feature. It also sounds a lot like what some people are suggesting as a signature use for Twitter and may explain Zuckerberg's apparent onetime interest in acquiring the microblogging company.
More importantly, this is basically confirmation (via Scoble, of course) that Facebook has significant amounts of intricate data on hand that it hasn't released yet. It may sound creepy, and privacy advocates may be wringing their hands already, but for Facebook, this could be a quick answer to the profitability question.
NOTE: As it turns out, Zuckerberg was participating on Friday in Davos forum, along with Microsoft's Craig Mundie, YouTube's Chad Hurley, Adobe Systems' Shantanu Narayen, and others. The live Webcast has come and gone, but it looks like an archived version might show up eventually on this World Economic Forum Webcast page.