Bing brings Facebook-fueled search results
Can your search get by with a little help from your friends? Bing thinks so. The Microsoft search site now lets users upgrade their queries by drawing on information friends have shared on Facebook.
One new Bing search option, Liked Results, should spotlight relevant items shared by friends on Facebook. As a post on Bing's blog explains, a search for restaurants in San Francisco would no longer show just those places that the Web at large deems worthy of interest, but establishments Facebook pals like.
Another, Profile Search, displays Facebook profiles matching your query in addition to serving up people-specific links found in a general Web search.
Both features rely on Facebook's controversial "instant personalization" system. But Bing, unlike earlier partners, has made it opt-in: You shouldn't see any sign of your Facebook presence on the site unless you give Bing permission first.
I can't tell you exactly how these new features work, since they don't appear to be enabled for me yet. (Yes, I undid my earlier privacy setting disabling instant personalization). Instead, I'll point you to Danny Sullivan's detailed write-up at Search Engine Land, in which he reports that only a minority of his queries yielded Facebook-augmented results.
A second Bing blog post provides some context for this effort. It describes the arrival of more accurate, personalized search as "an inflection point in the search industry that will enable more interesting social scenarios in the future."
Indeed, Google has the same idea in mind. It began offering a version of this concept a year ago when it introduced "social search" -- a separate category of results drawn from people you're linked with in your Google Account and in such public sites as Twitter.
But by plugging into Facebook, Bing's version of social search could be far more accurate and powerful than Google's -- if, that is, users don't mind seeing their Facebook friends popping up on the site.
(Disclaimer: I don't get paid by the word, which means the effort I spend writing the usual disclaimer about Post Co. chairman Don Graham being on Facebook's board of directors yields me zero financial benefit.)
Bing could use some help -- ComScore's September traffic numbers, released this afternoon, show that it held only 11.2 percent of the U.S. search market, while Google continued to dominate it with a 66.1 percent share. Does this new option make you more likely to try Bing, or do you have enough Facebook in your online life already?
Put another way, who do you worry about more when it comes to your privacy: Google or Facebook?
| October 13, 2010; 6:18 PM ET
Categories: Search, Social media
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