Did you hear the big news? At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Microsoft announced that Facebook and Twitter are being integrated into the Bing search engine. Through partnerships with the social networks, Microsoft now has access to Twitter’s “firehose” of real-time data and will soon be adding public Facebook status updates, too.
The Twitter search vertical, already live at bing.com/twitter, allows for a real-time view of the activity on the popular micro-blogging site. For all those out there who still think Twitter is just a place where people tweet what they had for breakfast, think again. Through Bing’s new interface, complete with tag clouds for hot (trending) topics, you’ll be able to see the power of Twitter for revealing breaking news, online chatter and opinion on various subjects, and details on other major events. (Case in point: check out the Twitter results for “Windows 7” which launched today).
When searching tweets via Bing, the interface has an advantage over Twitter’s own engine at search.twitter.com. That’s because Bing’s Twitter search gives you the best of both worlds – Twitter results and web links – links which are parsed from the tweets themselves. Twitter, on the other hand, only returns the raw tweets.
In the top part of the screen, a real-time view of tweets are presented and they will refresh on the screen as more come in. That’s also an improvement over Twitter’s search, which forces you to manually refresh the page yourself. However, you are able to turn this feature off temporarily thanks to an included “pause” button.
Below the actual tweets are links to web sites which the tweets contained. This is especially helpful for tracking hot topics as Twitter is more of a communications network where link exchanges comprise a majority of the online interaction. Beneath each web link provided, often pointing to a news article or blog post of some sort, the tweets from those who mentioned the link are provided. This makes it easy to engage in conversations with others who you may not even know about a subject you’re both interested in. That feature alone has a lot of promise since one of the hardest things about Twitter is finding like-minded users to friend and follow. Small “RT” (re-tweet) buttons are included next to these links to facilitate joining in the conversation.
As for the Facebook integrations, those have yet to launch but are said to include content from Facebook accounts marked as public. That’s not the default setting in Facebook, by the way, so you can breathe a sigh of relief – your profile and News Feed aren’t all of a sudden going to be indexed by the search engine. Instead, only those folks who have specifically set their profile to public will be indexed – a group that likely contains public figures as well as those with fan pages. Facebook also plans on introducing additional controls that will allow those whose content was previously marked as public the ability to change that to private if they desire to keep it out of the search engine.
No details on how exactly the Facebook integration will work have been revealed, but we’ll keep you posted.
For more details on the Twitter integration, check out the Bing community blog post available here.