Microsoft and Facebook are deepening their partnership with two new features that leverage Facebook connections for supposedly more-accurate Web search results.
Microsoft and Facebook are partnering on a set of new social-search
features accessible via Bing. The features will also activate for Web
results on Facebook, which are powered by Bing.
One new feature, Liked Results, displays the Websites and links
"liked" by a Facebook user's friends. If you search in Bing for "Halo:
Reach," for example, your friends' Facebook profile images will appear
next to certain results. "So, you can lean on friends to figure out the
best Websites for your search," reads an Oct. 13 note on The Facebook Blog
The other new feature, Facebook Profile Search, factors into
searches for specific people. In response to a search request for a
particular name-e.g., "John Smith"-Bing will now leverage a user's
Facebook connections to deliver more relevant results. "Those with whom
you have mutual friends will now show up first," reads The Facebook
Blog note. "Bing is also making more prominent the ability to add these
people as friends on Facebook directly from Bing."
The tighter partnership between Facebook and Bing is unsurprising,
given Microsoft's $240 million investment for a 1.6 percent stake in
the social network. During an Oct. 13 presentation, Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg appeared onstage with Microsoft executives to talk through
the background and details of the deeper search integration.
"We're hard-wired so that information about people is the most
interesting information we track in the world," Zuckerberg told the
Microsoft likely hopes that the new layer of Facebook data will help
Bing in its continuing battle against Google, which recently added
real-time search results in a bid to streamline its service. Analytics firms give Bing around 27-30 percent of the U.S. search-engine market
, once Bing's powering of Yahoo's backend search is taken into account, while Google occupies between 65-71 percent.
"We think it's time for a real, robust, persistent social signal,"
Satya Nadella, senior vice president of Microsoft's Online Services
Division, wrote in an Oct. 13 posting on the Bing Community blog
"Facebook has led a transformation of the Internet already. It has
reached and passed 500 million members, and the amount of content
created inside Facebook each day is staggering."
The new social-search features are scheduled to roll out in the United States over the next few weeks.
"What's most exciting to us at Bing is the evolution of this new
signal, based on something more than just pattern recognition or
keyword matching," Nadella wrote in that blog posting. "This new signal
will allow us to do a better and more comprehensive job predicting what
resources and content are most relevant to you because, in addition to
all the other signals we use, other people you trust have found them