Microsoft just announced a major update to Bing’s social search results. Just like Facebook is now integrating Bing deeper into its search tools, Microsoft is now adding more Facebook content to Bing, too. In total, Microsoft says, “five times more of your friends’ content on Facebook is now searchable in the sidebar.” In addition to the photos you could already see in previous versions, Bing now also shows status updates, shared links and comments from your friends.
“For every query, there is at least one person with the right answer,” Microsoft says. Whenever its algorithms now detect a query where a Facebook comment or shared link could be useful, it will surface this in the sidebar, making the content there a lot more interesting than in previous iterations. This, says Microsoft, means it is now “easier to see who knows and what they’ve shared related to your search. So when your friends aren’t around, Bing is the perfect stand-in.”
The larger pool of data, of course, also means that you will likely see Facebook results more often when you search on Bing now. Microsoft, of course, notes that it respects Facebook’s privacy settings. “Nothing is shared automatically; you only see what your friends give you permission to see (though their Facebook settings) so you only share what you want to share.”
With this update, Microsoft also launched a new “Friends’ Photos experience” that uses a larger lightbox to show relevant photos your friends posted on Facebook. Microsoft, it is worth noting, already put a stronger emphasis on photos with its last design refresh in December, and today’s release seems to iterate on this.
Microsoft also made a few design changes. You now don’t have to hover over a friend’s avatar to see additional content, for example. Instead, the social updates are now immediately displayed in the sidebar when you load the search results page.
Just like before, Bing will obviously continue to also highlight content from Twitter, Quora, foursquare and other social networks, but it’s pretty obvious that the focus is now squarely on Facebook updates.