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Microsoft, in partnership with Facebook, this week rolled out what is being dubbed “social search” or “the friend effect” on its flagship search engine, Bing. The technology allows anyone with a Facebook account to log in, recommend, discuss and share directly from within Bing search results.

When a user makes a search, any results that can be linked to your Facebook friends will be displayed alongside the list of webpages. For example a search for “Make Use Of” will list friends who have recommended our website (clicked “Like”) or even individual articles, and a “London” search will display a list of Facebook friends living in that area. Occasionally search results may even display recommendations from people not on a user’s contact list to highlight the most popular shared articles.

According to Bing, 90% of shoppers will consult a friend before making a purchase, with 80% holding off buying until a friend approves the purchase. Microsoft reacted to the research by implementing a quick way of discussing potential purchases by selecting a few products and messaging a friend directly from your search results.

Just in case a particular webpage does not have a “Like” button, Microsoft have also refreshed the Bing Toolbar which now contains a dedicated Facebook “Like” button. The Bing Toolbar only works with Internet Explorer 7 or later on the Windows OS.

According to Microsoft, friends play an important part in online searches:

“Bing delivers a more personalized search experience by using the interests shown by your friends. Now you won’t miss potentially interesting information that may have been buried deep within the search results. Bing will surface results, which may typically have been on page three or four, higher in its results based on stuff your friends have liked.”

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Read: Facebook Friends Now Fuelling Faster Decisions @ Bing

Is it a Google beater? Will social search really make that much difference to the way you use the web? Do you even care what your friends think? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. Junichi406
    May 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    this is awesome!!!

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