By Jared Newman | Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 9:52 am
As Google and Facebook quibble over user data, the relationship between Facebook and Microsoft is only getting cozier.
Since December, Bing has been using Facebook “Likes” to deliver separate results from its main search algorithm. Starting today, Bing is expanding Likes to its algorithmic search results, so every link has the potential to get a nod of approval from your friends.
At a time when search is under fire for being spammy — especially for consumer needs such as product reviews and travel information — the infusion of personal recommendations seems like an antidote. Bing is getting a big boost here by tapping into Facebook’s massive word-of-mouth database — something that Google may never get.
Google and Facebook have been fighting since November, when Google deemed that Facebook users may no longer search for new friends using Gmail contact lists. Facebook wasn’t playing fair, Google said, because the social network doesn’t reciprocate and let users export their own contact lists to other services, such as Gmail.
The animosity flared up again this week when Google removed the Nexus S’s ability to sync Facebook friends with the phone’s contact list. Again, it’s because Facebook isn’t actually exporting its data. If you’re a Nexus S user, and you leave Facebook, all those synced contacts from the social network will disappear.
Regardless of who’s right, the bad blood with Facebook is becoming a liability for Google Search. Last week, Google rolled out its own social search update that surfaces new results based on your friends’ activities, but it’s based on links to services such as Twitter, YouTube and Flickr instead of the almighty Facebook Like. The problem is that Google doesn’t have a way to show endorsement in mass quantities. If 100 of your friends like one restaurant, Google’s version of social search can’t reflect that. Bing’s can.
I suspect Google will try to remedy this issue with its own forthcoming social network, but that’s a whole other story. For now, Bing has a ready-made solution that uses the biggest social network on the planet.