Microsoft Launches Facebook-Enhanced Bing Search Features

Microsoft announced the deployment of two new Facebook social-search features for Bing, which enhance search results with friends' input.

Bing's new Facebook social-search features are now deployed, according to Microsoft. Those same features will also activate for Web results on Facebook, which are powered by Bing.

Those features include Liked Results, which displays the Websites and links "liked" by a Facebook user's friends. For example, if you search in Bing for "The Social Network," your friends' Facebook profile images will appear next to the results they liked. "You can lean on friends to figure out the best Websites for your search," the Facebook Blog explained Oct. 13, when the features were first announced.

The other new feature, Facebook Profile Search, factors into searches for specific people. For example, typing in a name like "John Smith" will now leverage your Facebook connections. "Those with whom you have mutual friends will now show up first," Facebook explained at the time. "Bing is also making more prominent the ability to add these people as friends on Facebook directly from Bing."

According to the Bing team, the tighter integration with Facebook came as a result of users' requests.

"Early users told us that they expected the same access to their friends inside Bing as they already have inside Facebook," Paul Yiu, Bing's group program manager, wrote in a Nov. 2 posting on the Bing Community blog. "This surfaced as some dissatisfaction with the way features were working." In particular, "people were disappointed when they did not see their friends show up in their searches."

The Bing team also took Facebook's privacy controversies into account, moving to assure users that the Facebook-enhanced social features will not expose their personal data to the larger Web.

"Bing's -Liked Results,' for example, will surface content that is designated as -public' and linked to a person's Facebook friends," Yiu wrote in another Bing Community blog posting, coauthored with Bing Director of Product Management Todd Schwartz, and updated Nov. 2. "This is the same information someone could access by viewing their Facebook network directly, except it adds relevancy by being presented alongside -traditional' Bing search results."

In addition, "people will only see Facebook Profile Search results for people in their Facebook network when signed into Facebook." Those same users will "only see -like' information from their Facebook friends." Those who don't want their Bing experience Facebook-enhanced, apparently, also have the ability to disable the features.

Facebook friends cannot see a user's searches. "Bing only connects with your Facebook network to bring you the content they have -liked' and the people in your network you know," Yiu and Schwartz wrote. "Your search information is not shared back with your Facebook network."