Microsoft partners with Facebook, Twitter on search

Executives Qi Lu and Yusuf Mehdi debut the Twitter integration at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. The Facebook partnership will come at a later date.


SAN FRANCISCO--Microsoft is indeed bringing real-time search results from Facebook and Twitter to its Bing search engine thanks to two partnerships, search head Qi Lu and senior vice president Yusuf Mehdi announced at the Web 2.0 Summit here on Wednesday.

The Twitter partnership, which will bring all real-time public tweets to Bing, went live in beta on Wednesday at The Facebook deal, which will access all information shared publicly on the social network, will arrive "at a later date," Mehdi said. It's all part of Bing's strategy to harness "the emerging hot area of real-time information," he added.

No financial terms were disclosed for either deal; in a talk later on Wednesday at Web 2.0 Summit, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that "no money changed hands" in its deal with Microsoft.

"You have to do more visual things, you have to do more sophisticated things, and you have to have better access to data," Mehdi said.

This will also give Microsoft an edge on Google, which currently has no such deals in place--but both Facebook, in which Microsoft has a financial stake, and Twitter are rumored to also be talking to Google as well. (Editor's note: Separately, Google announced a similar deal with Twitter on Wednesday.)

The Twitter deal is nonexclusive, Lu said. He did not comment on Facebook.

Users of the Bing Twitter search can see tweets that match a search query listed in pure chronological order, much like Twitter's own search engine (which it built in with the acquisition of a third-party app called Summize). But you also have the option to see search results in a mode that Mehdi called "best match," where he explained that Bing's team will "apply a bunch of our search techniques and relevancy to improve the results." This will mean that popular tweets and heavily retweeted tweets are brought higher up in results, and spam and duplicate results (as well as adult content) will be filtered out.

The Bing Twitter search also aggregates information around hot topics that goes far deeper than Twitter's "trending topics": the most popular links shared on a given topic, for example, and a way to see where shortened URLs redirect. (R.I.P., Rickroll.)

The 'top links' feature in Bing's Twitter search. Bing

It's still a work in progress, largely because Facebook and Twitter themselves are changing rapidly as well. "Facebook and Twitter, especially Twitter, are really emerging communication platforms, just a lot of growth and the dominant usage patterns...are still evolving in many ways," said Lu, who recently made the jump from Yahoo to Microsoft.

This post was expanded at 2:54 p.m. PDT.

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