Microsoft is deepening Bing's relationship with Facebook for U.S. users, extending the social network's Liked Results to any URLs retrieved by its algorithmic search.
"If your friends have publicly liked or shared any of the algorithmic search results shown on Bing, we will now surface them right below the result," Lawrence Kim, a member of the Bing Social Team, wrote in a Feb. 24 posting on the Bing Community blog. "You may not see Liked Results on every query, but when it does trigger it's often a delightful experience."
As an example, say you decide to research used cars on Bing. Thanks to this latest Facebook integration, any used-car Websites "Liked" by your Facebook friends will feature their names and images alongside a "liked this" notation. In theory, unless your friends' needs and tastes in no way correlate with yours, this will allow you to narrow down those Websites best suited for your needs.
Kim also framed the marriage between Bing search and Facebook's "Like" button in sweeping terms. "This is the first time in human history that people are leaving social traces that machines can read and learn from, and present enhanced online experiences based on those traces," he wrote. "As people spend more time online and integrate their offline and online worlds, they will want their friends' social activity and their social data to help them in making better decisions."
Microsoft and Facebook originally announced their social-search partnership in October 2010, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared onstage with Microsoft executives to talk about how social tools could enhance more generalized Web search.
"We're hard-wired so that information about people is the most interesting information we track in the world," he told the audience.
For its part, Microsoft likely hopes that a fresh layer of Facebook data will allow Bing to compete even more robustly with Google, which itself is increasingly antagonistic toward Facebook's designs on the larger Web. In addition to Liked Results, the partnership has also delivered Facebook Profile Search, which leverages a user's Facebook connections to deliver more relevant results for people.
"These with whom you have mutual friends will now show up first," read an Oct. 13 note on The Facebook Blog. "Bing is also making more prominent the ability to add these people as friends on Facebook directly from Bing."
Microsoft is an investor in Facebook, having paid $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake.