Last week, Brafton reported that some people were seeing Facebook-powered results for Bing searches, but today, the search engine has officially announced the launch of its new social features. Bing says all U.S. searchers can now experience the fruits of its partnership with Facebook.
Bing claims the tests it ran last week were part of an effort to ensure that the social search features were useful to users, and it has since made a few changes. Officials explain that early users were upset that some of their friends didn't show up in searches, so the Facebook integration has been tweaked accordingly.
To start, Bing explains that Facebook users' information will show up in profile searches in Bing – even if they have selected not to share their profile information with public search engines. While this may sound off-putting, the company claims it is not violating users' privacy preferences.
"It's important to note that you will not show up in web searches on major search engines including Bing, just in Facebook Profile Searches within Bing conducted by your friends or friends of friends," says Paul Yiu, the group program manager for Bing.
The information that shows up on searches for people doesn't seem to be invasive. A test search suggests that only a Facebook username displays for users with a "private profile" and other users' info is accompanied by profile pictures.
Another way that Bing is updating its social search options is by establishing that all Facebook users who are 13 or older (instead of only those who are of legal age) will show up in search results for friends (or friends of friends). The company says this is "more like the experience customers have with Facebook."
It remains to be seen how consumers will respond to Bing-Facebook search options – especially with Bing's new profile availability features – but Like-based search results could significantly boost brands. Brafton recently reported on a study indicating that millennials are highly likely to support their preferred brands on social media, including Facebook, and 64 percent say friends' opinions impact their purchase decisions.