In choosing a search partner, Facebook picked Bing, not Google

15th Jan 2013 | 20:06

In choosing a search partner, Facebook picked Bing, not Google

Microsoft wins out in privacy rift

In what some are sure to consider an underwhelming press event today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Graph Search, a search tool that wades through the billions of bits of data on the site to come up with results to super-specific queries.

However, not all answers are housed in Facebook's data catacombs, and for searches that aren't Graph Search indexed, the social network has chosen Bing to provide users with info on web searches for things like local weather.

"There's an integration between Bing and Graph Search so that Bing picks up when Graph can't deliver relevant results," Lars Rasmussen, director of engineering at Facebook, said during the event, as reported by Engadget.

Zuckerberg picked up that thread: "We're working with Microsoft to incorporate social signals into search, and Microsoft is helping Graph Search improve."

But why not Google?

Facebook's aim is to make search social, and the assembled FB team made it clear Bing is doing just that.

But when asked about whether Facebook considered working with Google on its search venture, privacy apparently played a significant role in the decision of which company to partner with.

"We would love to work with Google," Zuckerberg said. "We just wanted to incorporate search, and as long as the companies are willing to honor the privacy of folks sharing content on Facebook, we'll work with them. We just haven't gotten it worked out with Google yet."

When pressed to elaborate on privacy issues with the Mountain View company, Zuckerberg alluded to some sticking points that might have swayed its decision to move forward with Microsoft as a sole search partner for now.

"The main thing is that when people share something on Facebook, we want to give them the ability to broadcast things, but also retract them later, and have them be removed immediately," he said.

"Microsoft was more willing to do things specific to Facebook."

Zuckerberg made a concerted effort to emphasize user privacy during the event, and clearly wants a partner that will stick to the "Facebook way," keeping privacy at the forefront (at least during public events like this) as Graph Search evolves.

What internal conversations have or haven't taken place between Google and Facebook we can't know, but time will tell if there are future partnership changes afoot. Or, Google could view this as an aggressive move into its search turf, in which case the lines in the sand are drawn.

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