Late last year, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) began integrating its search results with Facebook-showing Bing searchers which results their friends “liked” on Facebook, for example. Today Microsoft has made a big expansion to that system, and is even using Facebook results to bump up links your friends like, which might otherwise have been buried deep in the search results.
Overall, Microsoft is making a big bet that Facebook data will help give it an edge over Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which remains, of course, the most popular search engine.
The changes to Bing come at a strange time in the history of social searching. Just last week, Facebook got busted planting a story that slammed Google’s social search options as having privacy problems. That move by Facebook seems even odder this week, since if anything, the Microsoft announcement really emphasizes how little Google uses Facebook data. Google does have a “social search” system that includes data from Twitter, YouTube, and other sites-but it doesn’t appear to use Facebook data in any significant way.
Some features of the new Bing-Facebook integration:
» Friends can “like” anything-individual pages or whole sites-and you’ll see it in your Bing results. There’s also a universal “like” button available for those who use the Bing toolbar.
» Not just your friends’ opinions. Bing also harnesses the wisdom of crowds to highlight the most popular and trending items. For example, a search on a recipe Epicurious will show which recipes are getting “liked” by Bing users the most.
» Deeper Facebook profile search. Front-page Bing results will immediately show a short bio of your Facebook friends, not just a link to their Facebook page.
» Social options around travel searches and shopping. Users can make travel alerts and “shopping lists,” and compare with those made by their friends.
The options only work if you’re logged into Facebook while doing the Bing search. And Microsoft has said that if you don’t like the idea of sharing your “likes,” there’s a control for that as well.