Bing pulling out Facebook ‘likes’

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp. is starting to incorporate what your friends do on Facebook right into its Bing search engine.

The software maker began rolling out a new feature Wednesday that can show what someone’s Facebook friends “like” on the search results page.

On Facebook and sites around the Web, people can click a “like” button to show support or share information with Facebook friends. In the coming weeks, if you use Bing to search for a topic in the news, articles that friends have shared on Facebook might appear, along with their names and Facebook profile photos. Restaurants and movies that friends have “liked” could help you decide what to do on your next date.

Microsoft also added Facebook profile results to people searches. In the past, a search for an old friend from elementary school who shares a name with a celebrity would leave Web surfers swimming in search results for the celebrity. Now, if that friend is part of your extended Facebook network, a link to his or her Facebook profile might pop up at the top of search results.

The new features were unveiled at a media event at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley offices in Mountain View, Calif.

As these features trickle out to Bing users, those who are also logged in to Facebook will see a small notification asking if they want to see Facebook friends’ information incorporated into search results.

Bing is using Facebook’s existing “instant personalization” feature, which customizes websites based on the likes and interests of Facebook members and their friends. Restaurant-review website Yelp and the music site Pandora also use instant personalization.

Tailoring search results based on what friends do online is not a new idea. Google Inc., the most-visited search engine, has added ways for people to recommend certain search results or re-order the list of links on a search results page. But neither feature has caught on.

The tie to Facebook could help No. 3 search provider Microsoft nab more Web searches.