I have been saying for some time now, that the world needs more companies to ally against the hidden evil of Google. Today, as I type this, Microsoft and Facebook have joined together to combat Google’s influence in the world of search engines. I neither respect nor trust Facebook, and I only respect Microsoft as “the devil you know” type ally against the cancerous evil that is Google. As such, I am both happy and horrified by this at the same time.

But now I should mention, to avoid any misunderstanding, that Microsoft and Facebook have been close allies since 2006, when Facebook was still in its infancy. Which means Microsoft was their friend even during the privacy issues scandal.

What does Facebook have to do with search? Well, until now nothing. Which maybe was a good thing, but oh well. So let’s run it down.

Within the next few hours, Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be including a new module that interacts with Facebook. This module will pull data from your friends network, and give you not only the search results you are looking for, but input and opinions from your friends list. More specifically, it will show you, who liked relevant data or articles related to your search. And using your friends network data, will give you results based on your electronic geography. More over, when you search for specific objects (the example they used was a car) it will show you if you’re friends already liked it or liked reviews and relevant information related to it.

That in and of itself is extremely interesting, but that isn’t all this new personalized experience offers. They’re trying to improve the people searching for people aspect of the search engine as well. When you normally search for people on most search engines, its very rare that you get results relevant to you. What the Bing/Facebook module does when you type in a search query, is displays not only Bing’s search results but it hunts through your social network for relevant results as well. Then it can bring up results within the “friend of a friend” type realm and give that information to you.

The idea is, according Chi Liu, one of Microsoft’s people on stage, is to revolutionize the search experience. “For Bing, our aspirations are to go substantially beyond [Bing’s current version of search]. The prevailing structure of today’s web is fundamentally topical in nature.” He goes on to say, “The first dimension is that we’ll be able to create search experiences that weren’t previously available.”

The idea seems to be to place the search emphasize more on the trusted opinions of those in your social network rather then just providing web results. Interesting, but I have a problem with this concept. To put it as bluntly as I can, humans en masse are about as trustworthy and intelligent as a herd of cattle. So, though I may trust my friend’s opinions on a subject or product, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be accurate about the information they’re providing or the opinions they’re offering. It’s a dangerous new vector for the spread of misinformation based on erroneous or outright false ideas stuck in many people’s dumb little heads.

Social Networking, whether we like it or not, is a huge part of our modern day culture and I think it will be for a long time to come. As such, creating an interaction between Bing and Facebook (as long as proper privacy tools are in place, and work the way they are claiming they do at this event), is really the next evolution of search. Oh Gods, I sound like one of them. At least I didn’t use any buzzwords so far.

Speaking of which, one buzzword sounding term that was mentioned today is actually kind of interesting. The term is “instant personalization”. It is the concept that when you visit an “instant personalization” website, that website can detect your live Facebook login, or the active Facebook cookie and grab your name. It then can go to the Facebook database, grab the info you share, and personalize the website based on that information.

This of course isn’t new. Faceb0ok has already been doing it with Pandora and other sites like it. But bringing this to a search engine is definitely an interesting twist I wouldn’t have thought of. Because it’s insane. Security threat much?

Well, Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook is being very careful with this instant personalization technique and implementing it with only trustworthy partners that will roll it out responsibly. But do we trust Facebook that far, given its issues in the not-too-distant past regarding privacy issues?

One thing Mark noted during the Q&A portion of the event, which I think is pretty important to note is that no personal data gets sent from Bing to Facebook. So it sounds like the interrelationship between the two companies is only one way.  This means that your search results for penguin-on-transexual-monkey porn will remain within the confines of Bing and Facebook won’t know about your disturbingly horrifying fetish. Seriously, your sick.

So the bottom line of this whole event? Microsoft and Facebook are definitely bringing some interesting functionality to Bing, but I’m not entirely convinced it needed a whole live event to define it. Sure, it’s another layer of interoperability between large portions of the internet.

Guess I’m going to have to switch my search to Bing for awhile and find out for myself. I’ll post an update to this article when I’ve formed more of an opinion on it.

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