Should Facebook “Like” Microsoft’s Bing?

by Matt Klassen on October 14, 2010

One thing is certainly clear; they’re hoping it’ll be the start of a beautiful relationship, or I guess the continuation of one. Earlier this week Facebook and Microsoft came together again to announce that both companies are working to deepen their relationship by integrating Facebook’s popular—if not slightly annoying—“Like” system into Microsoft’s Bing search engine software.

By marrying this social data to Bing’s search engine, both Microsoft and Facebook are hoping to revolutionize the search engine industry by making its more personal and user friendly. On top of the search results Bing generates for you, the Microsoft search engine will now also provide a list of links that your Facebook friends have “liked.” Just what you need, I know.

But with Facebook sporting a user base of over 500 million people, the question in my mind becomes, why Microsoft’s Bing? Trailing so far behind Google’s ubiquitous search engine as to barely be a speck on the horizon, Bing is barely a player in the search engine market. So what does Facebook have to gain by going with Microsoft?

In a word, leverage. While there are innumerable reasons why Facebook and Google would never go into business together—the primary one being the fact that they are fighting for the same online advertising dollars—Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated his reasons as plainly as possible, Microsoft is the underdog.

Being cutthroat competitors aside, the reason Facebook and Google would never work out well is that Google doesn’t need, or want, anyone to tell it how to run its search engine business. Such resistance often means less innovation, less integration, and thus less use for a partner like Facebook.

With Microsoft, on the other hand, Facebook has found a partner that sports equal parts creativity, open mindedness, and desperation. Microsoft would love to see Bing gain a foothold in the search engine market, and thus is far more open to whatever stupid suggestions companies like Facebook can come up with.

So how does it work? The example given at the conference was fairly straightforward. Pretend you’re searching for a steak house in San Francisco. You type that in to Bing and several results pop up. But what also pops up is a “like” tag with one of the restaurants, letting you know that some random friend of yours liked that place.

That being said, our lives are already becoming increasingly cluttered with pointless updates and unending “likes,” do we really need them cluttering up our online searches now too? Rather than asking the question, should Facebook “like” Microsoft’s Bing, the more pertinent question seems to be, should Microsoft “Like” Facebook’s pointless contribution to the search engine market?

However, with the position it finds itself in with relation to Google, it’s not like Microsoft really has a choice in the matter. It will go with Facebook because Facebook brings users. But do we really want to know what por…I mean, tech sites our Facebook friends like? Not really. At least I don’t. Now about the question of your privacy….

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{ 1 comment }

Jordan Richardson October 14, 2010 at 5:55 am

Don’t really get the privacy concerns, again, but maybe I’m missing something. Maybe people are being forced to click buttons and enter their private data, but it would seem that we have more control than ever over the amount of “clutter” we allow to invade our lives.

The idea itself sounds pretty good to me. It seems like a pretty seamless way to integrate user reviews, which are already apparently “cluttering” the internet with all that useless opinion garbage, with search results for a more democratic experience online. If I have to choose between “random friends” telling me what’s good and a ludicrous ad campaign doing the same, the former holds more weight in my view.

Isn’t that the ultimate goal of the internet in the first place? It is, after all, a public resource.

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