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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?

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 13, 2010; 6:18 PM ET
Categories:  Search, Social media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Cease Mac laptop purchases until Oct. 20
Next: Verizon to start selling the iPad. But who isn't?


No single search engine will produce comprehensive search results. People default to Google largely because it has the biggest indexed search available. Metasearch or specialized engines are theoretically far better, but these require more effort that the majority of users are not willing to expend.

No search engine will produce "accurate" results unless one defines very precise search parameters, which again most users choose not to employ (via ignorance or time pressure).

In this reality -- where people seem to want only narrow results but are unwilling to dig deeply to access all the information available on a precise subject -- Facebook linking will only dumb-down search results. Facebook is just a virtual clique. And while it is true that some Facebook users expand their lives and learning through Facebook, the vast majority seem to use it as a groupthink tool, to reinforce their opinions with others who think similarly. Sharing hobbies is healthy, isolating oneself from "the other party" only leads to intellectual and political stalemate & gridlock. Why challenge oneself to engage with "one of them" when one can surround themselves with a bunch of nodding bobbleheads? Why forge new ideas when everyone in your group has adopted the fad that corporate interests have sold you, as advertised on Google and Facebook?

Unlike useful tools like Wolfram Alpha or even Wikipedia where facts are checked and unsubstantiated opinions are removed, there is no guarantee of data quality or accuracy in all of Facebook. Therefore, by providing opinioned search results, the end result will be that online cliques will further isolate themselves from new and different ideas.

What miserable progress: Google returns search results based on corporate ad dollars, and Facebook returns search results based on your coddly group's opinions of the corporate ad-driven trend of the moment. If this is the future of search, count me out.

Posted by: roule | October 14, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

I think Bing is a really poor name.

Posted by: motogp46 | October 14, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

The fear will really set in when my Facebook status is automatically updated by Bing to read, "Andrew is currently visiting!"

Perhaps I should have left my name out of that example.

Posted by: kingpigeon | October 14, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

When Microsoft launched Bing I was expecting a fast growing of this new search engine, but till now Google is long distance from Bing. I don’t think the new option will make big changes. Domingo A. Trassens, Comlab Analyst.

Posted by: trassens-domingoalberto | October 14, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

When Microsoft launched Bing I was expecting a fast growing of this new search engine, but till now Google is long distance from Bing. I don’t think the new option will make big changes. Domingo A. Trassens, Comlab Analyst.

Posted by: trassens-domingoalberto | October 14, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

great, more cr@p...

first google adds tweet cr@p and now bing adds facecr@p

this should open the door for a startup to provide a search engine that's not about only selling advertising.

Posted by: kkrimmer | October 14, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey Rob, instead of mentioning it all the time, can you just italicize the disclaimer at the end of any FB-related article?

Posted by: Pollux | October 14, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Well, roule has the comment of the week!

Posted by: TheChileanPresidentIsMuchBetterRespondingToDisastersThanObama | October 16, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

I do not Bing will get longer unless Microsoft team improve the search engine expeprience. Currently, for small business like my website , I cannot find anything using Bing, but when using Google, I got a nice rank.

That is why I use Google.

Another reason is Microsft's technology lags behind Google in several ways

Posted by: 23754697 | October 16, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I’m thinking that Facebreach’s latest announcement about their privacy violations (about which Rob posts later) should pretty much answer the question he poses at the end of this blog.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | October 18, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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