Microsoft’s Bing Search Engine Cutting Status Update Data Deal with Facebook

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By Eric Eldon Comments

Picture 5It’s not clear how many Facebook users make their status updates publicly available, but for those who do, Microsoft has struck a data partnership to presumably index them in its Bing search engine more efficiently. So if you’re a Facebook user who has chosen the “everyone” option for your updates from within the site’s privacy settings page, you’re about to get some more exposure.

Bing will also include Twitter updates, AllThingsD reports, and both deals will be announced at the Web 2.0 conference today in San Francisco by Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services Division. [Update: Lu has since confirmed both deals]. The deal isn’t expected to go live for weeks. It’s not clear if any money is changing hands. Twitter has also been in talks with Google about a direct-data deal for months, but Facebook is also apparently in discussions with Google about including public status updates, the report says.

Facebook had this when we asked for confirmation: “We don’t comment on speculation. Later today, COO Sheryl Sandberg and VP of Engineering Mike Schroepfer will be speaking at Web 2.0 at which time they will be available to answer questions regarding Facebook.”

The company has previously said that its 300 million-some users generate  “more than 40 million status updates each day.” It’s not clear how many of these updates are publicly available — the default is that they’re not.

The report adds another interesting note at the end: “Facebook will provide users with a numbers of new tools” for making their updates publicly accessible.

Bing

The company has already been moving in this direction. Mark Zuckerberg told us in March that Facebook is pushing more towards a hybrid private-public model for information-sharing on the site, around when the company introduced new features for making various pieces of profile data more public. Then, in June, the company announced it was testing a new “publisher” that included a more obvious option for making status updates public. Then, in August, it rolled out a new, real-time search interface on the site.

Here’s more on those “new tools,” from TechCrunch:

Facebook is creating privacy controls, we’ve learned, that will allow users to set even previously public status updates to private, meaning search engines will be prohibited from indexing the content. It won’t be perfect, since anything published on the Internet is often spread far and wide. But it may allow users to hide previously public data to some extent.

Meanwhile, status updates are already available via Facebook’s “live stream” API, which Microsoft has already integrated into its Live.com site. Bing, of course, is also integrated into Facebook’s main site, as its web search engine.

So, given what we already know about Facebook’s search plans, and its history of cutting deals with strategic investor Microsoft (see: Xbox, banner ads, etc.) perhaps the most interesting part of this report is that Facebook is talking to Google.