In the quickly escalating war between Google and the Facebook/Microsoft consortium, the partnership between these two giants may have just served a brutal blow to the heretofore unrivaled Internet powerhouse. Microsoft recently reveled its new additions to its search engine Bing, primarily the integration of Facebook into internet searches. The upgrade, which comes months after the first series of integrations between Facebook and Bing, will enhance a user’s search experience by using their profiles, likes, friends, and friend’s likes to determine the most likely search results that would appeal to a particular user. Back in October 2010, the first series of integrations began incorporating Facebook profiles in search results. However, the new changes will more obviously affect a users search results and will certainly make Facebook a presence in the search engine process.
The new integration will continue to use Facebook Likes and profile information to help whittle down your searches. Not only will websites your friends have liked be designated, but also articles and content from the website liked by friends will be detailed under the website link.
The most radical change will probably be the influence of likes on search rankings. Due to a like, a page that would normally be relegated to a far off page will be listed on the first page of search results instead. Other integration changes include: Facebook page integration which will bring up Facebook pages of websites that have a presence on Facebook, improvements in people searches which will now associate friends with topic searches, further integration of the like button on the Bing toolbar, and easier ways to share different likes with friends on Facebook.
The announcement followed the debacle of Facebook’s secret watergateish campaign against Google. After being publicly caught in the act of trying to smear Google in various US media outlets for the lack of privacy in Google’s new social media site Social Circle, this announcement is not without some irony. The new developments on Bing will rely on further integrating a person’s relationships on Facebook to develop a “profile” which will determine their internet search experience.
Microsoft executives are calling it the “Friend Effect” , the idea that having access to what our friends like and do not like can help us to determine how we should act. Their television campaigns are without a doubt a perfect reflection of the said friend effect. In a witty and smart ad, they show you how your friends can really be a help in making decisions, particularly for the expected things such as places to eat and songs to buy.
So here is the real question: will this actually work? At Tech Crunch they’ve brought up a few interesting points, such as: is the limited number of friends you have really a large enough forum to truly improve your decision making? Will your friends begin to like the important things that you consistently turn to Bing for help with (ex: owner’s manuals, how-to-guides, etc.)? Not to mention, are your opinions really those of your friends or do you sometimes only like or even look at something because you like your friend (but not really their interests)?
Microsoft’s answer: “The best decisions are not just fueled by facts, they require the opinions and emotions of your friends. Search is now more than a fact finder — [In this update] we’re marrying fact-based search results with your friends’ street smarts to combine the best data on the Web with the opinions of the people you trust the most and the collective IQ of the Web.”
Social search with the help of friends, likes, and Facebook may just be the future for Internet searching… or it may not. It may all rest on how much people actually value their Facebook friend’s opinions. That and maybe what Google comes up with next!
Test it out here and let us know what you think in the comments below.