Posted October 13, 2010 4:48 pm by with 1 comment

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Search engines are fine if you want to know the capital of Alaska or how to make the perfect omelet, but what if you can’t decide on what movie to see or what book to read? Sure, you could check out the hundreds of reviews found all over the web, but why trust total strangers when you can get advice from your friends instantly on Bing! And by friends, I mean your Facebook pals, many of whom are probably as unknown to you as CullenLuver47 who left a movie review on Amazon.

Bing is the latest program to get bitten by the Facebook bug and you’ll see it in your results when you use the “decision engine” to search. They’ve cleverly tagged it: Bing Social Search: Now it’s personal. Here’s how it works.

When you use Bing to search a topic, (Iron Man 2) the engine will reach out to your Facebook friends to find out which of them “liked” the object of your desire. After an initial return of results, you’ll see a special Facebook section that details which of your friends expressed an interest in any links that fit the topic.

Bing is also initiating Facebook Profile Search which pops Facebook links when you search a person’s name. Where the engine gets smart is in the ranking. Says Bing;

When searching for an individual, Bing looks at a person’s Facebook network and surfaces results that make the most sense based on the relationships the searcher has with people on Facebook. For example, results for common names such as “Bob Smith” will be ranked higher if a person shares mutual friends or networks. This “social distance” is used to provide people with the most personally relevant answers for people searches.

Now that, I’m on board with. I’ve never had good luck finding people with Facebook’s search engine, but Bing’s version sounds like a winner.

As far as the “Liked” part of the social search, it may be fun but I don’t know that it’s really useful. In their press release, Bing makes reference to a “richer set of signals that take into account not only relationships between data but relationships between people.” Their example is this. Should I go see Inception? My friends know I like Leonardo DiCaprio, so yes, but they also know I don’t like movies with guns, so they’ll advise accordingly. Now that’s an informed decision, but does Bing think they can teach a search engine to return a complex, “human” result like that? I suppose that the more data a computer collects, the more accurate the predications but I don’t think Bing is going to discover my dislike for artichokes anytime soon.

It would be freaky though. If I searched for Italian appetizers and it warned me not to bother with antipasto salads because they contain artichoke hearts. From there it’s just a skip to to the search engine that returns only the words “Not Going to Happen,” when I search the phrase “how do I lose 50 pounds without exercising.”

What do you think of Bing’s new Facebook combined results? Helpful or just another company jumping on the social media bandwagon?

  • I think that in theory this sounds like a great idea, being able to use face book as a resource to get reviews on films etc. Sometimes when you search for data like this you want an independent opinion as opposed to a group of people who are keen to jump on the band wagon of the latest film or book release.