Facebook partners with "underdog" Microsoft to make Bing more social

Facebook partners with "underdog" Microsoft to make Bing more social

Summary: Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up to make Bing more social, bringing the insight and knowledge of your friends into the query results.

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Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up to bring a new feel to search results on Bing. At an event on Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus today, the companies announced a partnership that will enhance the results of what you're looking for by adding a Facebook module into the search results. (Facebook blog, Bing blog, Techmeme)

But it's more than just that. Those results are personalized, exclusive to you - based on what your friends on Facebook are saying or, more importantly, "liking" about the topics you're searching about.

Here are the examples that drive it home. Let's say you're doing some research about a particular type of car. Type in that search and you'll see the articles that your friends have "liked" on Facebook.

Better yet, take the example of people search. Let's say you're looking for a former classmate who shares a name with a business executive or celebrity. That person is likely to dominate the results. But now, a thumbnail of that classmate - easily found because you have mutual friends - appears as a thumbnail icon, along with links to add as a friend or send a message.

From the stage, Qi Lu, president of the Microsoft's Bing division, explained, "We take a broad holistic view of search. To us, search at its very core, is about understanding user intent" and to bring information and knowledge based on that. Today's form he said is a query box that reads keywords and delivers a list of results. But as the web evolves, that isn't necessarily the best experience.

The push into social search is big for Microsoft's Bing, which has been working to gain some search share from search powerhouse Google. But why would Facebook partner with Microsoft, instead of Bing?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was also in attendance, offered some insight. Facebook may have started off as a social site, he said, but it has really become more of a platform. That social platform has opened doors for third-party sites to tap into the Facebook ecosystem, now more than 500 million users strong.

Games are the best example. Facebook wasn't interested in creating social games but small "scrappy underdogs" like Zynga, the maker of Farmville, were. Those sorts of companies, by integrating the social element into the game, have seen huge growth - faster and stronger than some long-established companies.

Again, why Microsoft? Zuckerberg explains:

They really are the underdog here. They're incentivized to go out and innovate. When you're an incumbent in an area... there's tension between innovating and trying new things versus what you already have.

It's hard to think of Microsoft as an underdog. But when it comes to search, Microsoft really is the small guy here. Dare I say it's almost like a startup?

Increasingly, social is important. And yes, we are tapping into our network of Facebook friends more often for recommendations and advice. Integrating that experience beyond Facebook's walled garden is a good thing.

A few other highlights from the Q&A:

  • There is an opt-out feature. Users will be asked - up to five times - to give the companies a "No, Thanks" to this feature.
  • Your privacy is not compromised. Once Bing has identified you, it can only see what any other non-friend on Facebook might see. If you keep your tastes in music private, Bing won't be able to see it, either.
  • Facebook data appears on Bing but your Bing searches don't go back to Facebook. If you're searching about a disease, for example, you'll see which of your friends liked articles about that disease - which could be very helpful - but Bing won't update your News Feed with a "Sam is searching about Parkinson's Disease on Bing" entry.
  • As a platform, Facebook is interested in working with anyone and everyone that wants to integrate the social element, including other search engines. Zuckerberg did say that Microsoft's culture of innovation is driving them to try new things. Instead of asking why Facebook partnered with Microsoft, perhaps the better question is, "Why is Microsoft the only one doing this?"

The features go live today.

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Mobility, Social Enterprise

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17 comments
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  • RE: Facebook partners with

    My guess would be that all of Google's spying would conflict with Facebook's privacy concerns. Bing doesn't have that problem. And he got it right, Microsoft is more likely to innovate than Google who will wait for others to innovate then copy it.
    Loverock Davidson
    • "...conflict with Facebook's privacy concerns"

      @Loverock Davidson<br><br>You mean, Facebook is now concerned with privacy? REALLY????<br><br>Since when? <br><br>More, if Facebook is now concerned with privacy why is it partnering with Microsoft then? How on earth does Facebook plan to conciliate privacy and Microsoft? Those two are like oil and water, they will never get along peacefully.

      Weren't they (Microsoft) glad to, reportedly, help Vladimir Putin raid opponents computers?<br><br>C'mon, Facebook doesn't give a damn about privacy, it's Microsoft's money they're after, admit it. Microsoft is the ugly lady of tech, Ballmer must pay if Microsoft is to get a date.
      OS Reload
      • RE: Facebook partners with

        @OS Reload

        Come On Loverock is a MS Shill. MS can do no wrong.
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      • @itguy08: I must thank Loverock

        I must thank Loverock for giving me such good starting points to kick Microsoft's ass. His 'comments' are a source of inspiration and indicate the exact spots where I should kick first. Precious!
        OS Reload
      • RE: Facebook partners with

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  • This is terrible for privacy in Facebook, Terrible

    Isn't Microsoft the company that just a few months ago partnered with Vladimir Putin and gladly enabled him to raid his opponents computers?<br><br>It is, isn't it?
    OS Reload
    • RE: Facebook partners with

      @OS Reload : No, I don't believe that is correct.
      razzledazzle
      • Well, you are WRONG!!!

        @razzledazzle

        http://blogs.computerworld.com/16929/microsofts_newest_partnership_dictators
        OS Reload
      • RE: Facebook partners with

        @OS Reload,
        Maybe you should tell the whole story,
        http://blogs.computerworld.com/16950/microsoft_does_the_right_thing_for_russian_protest_groups

        Here is a small line from the article,
        "To prevent non-government organizations from falling victim to nefarious actions taken in the guise of anti-piracy enforcement, Microsoft will create a new unilateral software license for NGOs that will ensure they have free, legal copies of our products.""
        dvm
  • I would not trust MS with my FB data

    It's bad enough that Google already knows so much about us, but I've never had any illusions that MS would protect our privacy. Given the real concerns so many have shared about FB privacy, I think this could be the real "killer app" -- ie, the thing that kills my FaceBook presence entirely.
    artiste212@...
    • And you trust Facebook?

      @artiste212@... Not to defend MS, but your rant is laughable. A person stupid enough to trust a company designed to gather and sell personal info (Facebook), 8!ching about another company getting access to his info.
      What a joke.
      wackoae
  • BIG mistake... MS has lost it's way on the internet.

    What a shame... just as I was switching over to Bing, in lieu of Google's increasingly irrelevant (manipulated and filtered) search results, MS dings Bing with a lame idea.

    Huge PR blunder in light of recent privacy issues with Facebook.

    Here's a concept: return 'search' to it's basic purpose. No filters, no manipulation, no social media, no caching.
    WebCzar
  • good idea about facebook

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