Social network giant Facebook and Microsoft’s search engine Bing have joined forces to socialise search engine results.
The concept, currently available to 2% of US Facebook subscribers in the US but soon to be a universal feature, is this: if a user of Facebook is logged in while they enter a search query in Bing, the results will show related data taken from the posts and pages of their Facebook friends.
For example, when a user searched for “Lady Gaga concert” on Bing, they were traditionally returned with factual information from websites about Lady Gaga concert tour dates, venues, ticket prices, performance lineups and critics’ reviews.
With the Facebook integration however, search results will also include the opinions of the user’s friends on the subject of Lady GaGa concerts – ones they have seen or are planning to see, what they thought of the experience, and why they would or would not recommend it to others.
In this way, the user gets the benefit of both facts from faceless organisations and opinions from real people whom they know. In many cases, it’s conceivable that the latter may be a greater contributing factor toward the user investing the time and money in seeing a Lady GaGa concert.
No strangers to criticism and legal backlash from privacy advocates, Microsoft and Facebook have been quick to assure that user privacy will be respected with the new feature. Only Facebook content designated as accessible to public view, and from users listed as over 18 years old, will be included in the merged search results.
Both companies have also said that they are not tracking the data generated by the merged search feature for the purpose of selling it to third-party advertisers. How long they will stick to this is open to speculation.