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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 23 March, 2018

Facebook and Microsoft's Bing launch 'social search'

Users of Microsoft’s search engine will be given results including content their friends have ‘Liked’ on Facebook.

Image: Jeff Chiu/AP

MICROSOFT AND FACEBOOK have announced a new partnership which will see Facebook social features integrated into the former’s Bing search enging – potentially giving it a massive leg-up in its battle with Google.

Users who search for common queries like a Chinese restaurant or a list of films being shown in a local cinema, for example, will have ‘social’ results integrated into the main ones, being shown the films that some of a user’s Facebook friends have ‘Liked’.

Searches for individual people, meanwhile, will be fine-tuned so that results pertaining to Facebook friends, or friends-of-friends, are ranked ahead of results for others. If the people being searched for have a Facebook profile, users can request to add them as friends directly from the Bing search results.

Announcing the deal yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company expected almost every industry to be ‘disrupted’ by products with social integration, and Facebook had identified Microsoft as a potential partner to lead product development because it had already worked on it with ads, search and maps.

“Microsoft really is the underdog here,” he said. “They have an incentive go to all out and innovate.”

The relationship comes on the back of a number of other significant collaborations; in July Microsoft launched an extension to its Outlook email client which completely embedded Facebook into its inbox, meaning that Outlook users could see status updates and new messages from their Facebook friends alongside their regular email.

Facebook already includes web search results from Bing alongside results of searches within the Facebook site. From version 4 of the iOS operating system on Apple’s iPhone, meanwhile, users can now choose to search alternative engines to Google, which was previously the only option.

Google does not have a similar operation with Facebook but does include results from a user’s social sphere at the bottom of a results page, once the user has added Facebook or Twitter accounts to their Google profile.

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