Facebook and Microsoft have actually been working together since 2006. Duing their joint event today, they’ve announced some changes to the Bing search engine that will either make your search experience more useful, or slightly more annoying. With deep integration into your Facebook social network, Bing can now tailor your search results and make them more relevant to you.
Once again, the Likes feature rears its head and shows how powerful it is for a social network to have a lightweight method for users to indicate interest in something. Originally a feature of FriendFeed (which was later acquired by Facebook), Facebook implemented Likes earlier this year. Now, instead of making some type of commitment to joining a group or subscribing to a page, you just click Like. Using information about Likes among your Facebook friends, Bing can show you more detailed and specific information about your searches.
This means that two different people searching on the same topic may not see the same results. One example used was the Toyota Prius. A search on Bing would recognize you’re looking for a car and show you more details about it in addition to your standard search results. With the new Facebook social layer, you will also see a section which shows which of your friends Liked links related to the Prius.
We’ve seen this type of social integration on Google already, with updates from your social circle (Twitter) showing up as part of your results. The difference here is that the information may be more relevant, coming from your Facebook network and being pulled only from items those in your circle actually indicate they like.
People search is another area where Facebook will come into play. Usually, a search on an individual will pull up exactly who you want, as long as you’re looking for someone popular. If you were trying to find that person you worked on that one project with back in college, you would be out of luck. Now, Bing recognizes the people you might be searching for, no matter how unknown, and will show you links to their profiles in your results.
Of course, Facebook partnering with a public search engine will probably ignite the privacy fires again. Microsoft will not be storing any persistent data about your social searches. Bing does not save any of the data it’s pulling from Facebook except to show it on your screen. For users afraid of their private lives showing up in their friends’ search results, keep in mind that they will still be restricted by your privacy settings. Still, I’d review my Facebook privacy settings if I were you. Just to be on the safe side.