Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

Summary: Microsoft and Bing are partnering to "make Bing search more social." In Web 2.0 speak, the idea is search graph + web graph = better answers.

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Microsoft and Bing are partnering to "make Bing search more social." In Web 2.0 speak, the idea is search graph + web graph = better answers.

Microsoft and Facebook execs outlined their latest people-focused search work during an event on Microsoft's Silicon Valley research campus on October 13.

The main idea is to improve Bing results' relevance by using Facebook Instant Personalization. And to improve Facebook's Web-search results that are powered by Bing. From the Facebook explanation of today's announcement: "When you search for something on Bing or in web results on Facebook (powered by Bing), you'll be able to see your friends' faces next to web pages they've liked." (Don't worry: You can opt out.)

The actual deliverables from today's announcement are two new social search features Microsoft and Facebook developed in tandem. They will begin rolling out to users on October 13 and will continue to populate in "the coming months." The features are "Liked Results" (recommendations from their Facebook friends that are built on Facebook's public "Like" feature) and "Facebook Profile Search" (which will provide user-search results based on their relevancy to the searcher’s Facebook network and friends.)

Microsoft researchers have been working on these kinds of social-search concept for a while. The first reference I could find was a Microsoft Research project codenamed "Nocturnal."

"Nocturnal that aims to use an established online community to provide a mechanism for giving reviews and recommendations from your social circle a higher priority when you search the Web," explained an article on the Microsoft Research web site from 2007.

More recently, Microsoft researchers published a white paper entitled "A Comparison of Information Seeking Using Search Engines and Social Networks." (Microsoft shared the paper at the SMX East conference earlier this month.)

The Microsoft researchers conducted a study in which 12 participants posted a question to Facebook while simultaneously trying to find the answer to the same question using Web search. The result? "Search engines and social networks each provide value at different stages in the search process."

I'd agree with that assessment. Some queries I wouldn't mind asking my Facebook "friends." What's the best place for Dim Sum in San Francisco? Sure, I'd want to see what my Facebook friends think.

Some queries I wouldn't trust to those friends. No offense to my "friends," but my Facebook account is a work account and while it includes some people I would call "friends," many of the folks I've accepted I've never met. I don't know them and they don't know me. They're folks who follow my coverage of Microsoft. I don't want to know which movies they think I should see or which iPad case I should buy.

From what the executives said at today's press conference, it sounds like Microsoft and Facebook have other jointly-developed search tricks up their sleeves. (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a passing reference to another maps-related one, with no details.)

I see today's announcement as indicating even more clearly that Bing and Facebook are taking different paths with search. Bing is definitely optimizing for the everyday consumer's search habits. ut I am not the typical search user: I typically use search as much, if not more, to find specific quotes at press conferences, technical articles and other general-search results. I still find the best results for these kinds of research queries on Google, not Bing.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Networking, Social Enterprise

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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24 comments
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  • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

    People really use the fb search box??
    mike2k
    • Yes, they do

      @mike2k
      tehpea
  • This is terrible for Facebook users, Terrible. Truly Scary!!!

    Not long ago Microsoft showed how they value privacy and justice by partnering with Vladimir Putin and enable him to raid his opponents computers.<br><br>And now they gain privileged access to Facebook. <b>Scary!!!</b>

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/16929/microsofts_newest_partnership_dictators
    OS Reload
    • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

      @OS Reload <br><br>I won't take this as a privacy issue because the results would be only from your friends and that too only if you are logged in to FB. <br><br>The thing about google is that, they grab all your email data and manipulate with it so as to suggest you ads. If you have observed, when you open an email in gmail, all the text based ads would be related to your email content. For example, one of my friends sent me an invite for his marriage with the title "wedding bells" and when i opened that email, i could see all the ads on the side related to marriage. That's what I would call scary. I don't want Google to grab my personal data and play with it. <br><br>The difference between MS and Google is, MS might store user data, but Google uses the data for its own manipulation in addition to just storing it. I don't have control over that. Frankly, for users like me, its ok, but if there is any confedential data which you want to send over email, may be SSN or something else, that's where it gets scary.
      animageofmine1
      • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

        @animageofmine1 <br><br>At least Google is open about this stuff. I remember not a while long ago Windows Media Player was gathering your personal data behind your back.
        Lord_of_the_Singhs
    • Citing SJVN is stupid

      @OS Reload That guy is the Glenn Beck of the tech world. Pathetic to be reading and believing anything he says.
      BFD
      • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

        @BFD - LOL very funny, except for Orfice Reload's warped liberal bend...but that was funny.
        ItsTheBottomLine
  • FB users just dodge a bullet...

    I'm glad FB didn't team up with Google -- At least MS don't steal your personal data like creepy Google.
    iPad-awan
    • Vladimir Putin agrees. Google NOT evil enough for him.

      @iPad-awan <br><br>Where did Vladimir go when he needed help to raid his opponents computers?<br><br>Google? Nooooo, Vladimir doesn't trust Google, Google is not evil enough.<br><br>Vladimir prefers to get help from Microsoft. and so does zuck. Zuck is a lot like Vladimir, and Ballmer, and the Chinese communists. The Chinese communists seem to prefer Microsoft to Google too.<br><br>No wonder they tend to flock together and kick Google aside, as the Chinese communists did.
      OS Reload
      • Hatred must really sustain you...

        @OS Reload I mean, it must be something where you have to have some sort of hate or conspiracy in your heart to get through the day.

        Watch Fox News much? I bet you are riveted to it every day with chants of "sustain my hate, sustain my fear"
        BFD
      • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

        @OS Reload Dude - take your medication...sheesh.
        ItsTheBottomLine
    • Just because MS hasn't figured how to pimp you out

      @iPad-awan Doesn't mean they won't.
      matthew_maurice
    • Speaking of personal data...

      @iPad-awan
      Last I heard Facebook had privacy issues. Kinda ironic... :P
      ZackCDLVI
  • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

    "Some queries I wouldnt trust to those friends. No offense to my friends, but my Facebook account is a work account and while it includes some people I would call friends, many of the folks Ive accepted Ive never met"<br><br>I never accept friends I don't know. That would be your mistake to accept someone you don't know, you are breaking your own privacy. Either way, there is no harm about the facebook results, if they are not your friends, they are not your enemies either. If you see that some of your friends whom you don't know, like a restaurant, would not mean that their review is incorrect, I hope. <br><br>Btw, can you give an example as to what kind of queries you would not trust from your "so called" friends ?

    Also, I have to mention that generally I like reading your articles, but this one is a poorly written article. It looks more like a -ve wave. For example, you said that "youll be able to see your friends faces next to web pages theyve liked. (Dont worry: You can opt out.)". You could for sure present it in a positive manner. This looks like you are mixing your personal opinion with the news.
    animageofmine1
  • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

    repost, so deleting...sorry
    animageofmine1
  • Indexing problem

    [i]I still find the best results for these kinds of research queries on Google, not Bing.[/i]

    I think MS has an indexing problem. I see where Google bots crawl through my blog all the time, but I can't remember the last time I've seen one from MS.
    P. Douglas
    • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

      @P. Douglas
      Did you get a chance to look at robots.txt ? it might be possible that the blog is not allowing bing to crawl its content, though it is highly unlikely.

      Overall, I would agree that the index is a big issue with Bing. They need to grow the index because for the head queries, Bing seems to be doing exceptionally well, but for the tail queries, it falls behind Google. I am sure they know this issue and are working on it. The day it catches up there, it would be tough for Google because Bing is rolling out with a lot of rich features. The only problem is the habit of googling. MS have to do better in terms of marketing ! they really suck in marketing.
      animageofmine1
  • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

    Why does Microsoft have such a hard on for all the social stuff. I mean I know its popular but my God I'm getting tired of everything needing to be social or the word "social" all over their stuff. They built the funky Kin like that and it tanked. Just make good stable apps. How many frickin ways do you need to view photos or chat with somebody. Is everything being made for a 14 year old these days?
    jimk_z
    • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

      @jimk_z
      Gonna haft to second you on this one...
      ZackCDLVI
  • RE: Facebook and Microsoft partner on new social-search features

    all I know is that when I found social results for support.microsoft.com/search I decided it had been
    rendered from an excellent knowledgebase (KB articles)
    to a useless bunch of social.answers.microsoft.com junk mixed in.
    now they are going to go and ruin bing.
    too bad.
    phonecode