Microsoft said that it plans to increase use of Facebook data within Bing search results, according to The Wall Street Journal. The two companies are strengthening ties as they continue to fend off common enemy Google, which is trying to improve its social media offerings.
Both Google and Bing have been attempting to use “social signals”—information derived from searchers’ online social networks—to produce more relevant search results. These social signals, which include endorsements of news articles, movies, and anything else that could garner user opinions, are being used to rank search results now that traditional ranking methods are being more easily manipulated by sites.
But as far as Facebook data goes, Bing has a definite advantage. The social network has chosen to share most of its information with Microsoft (which owns a small equity stake in the site), not Google. A spokeswoman for Facebook said that Google also has access to some of its data, but not as much as Bing. “We view this as a competitive advantage over Google,” said Bing director Lisa Gurry last October when the initial partnership was announced.
The new features, which debuted Monday night, will allow Bing visitors to see which of their Facebook friends “liked” certain search results. In travel-related searches, when Bing users search for a specific city, the search engine will display Facebook contacts who live there, and Bing users will also be able to ask friends for their input in purchasing decisions.