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Microsoft's Bing grabs hold of Zuckerberg's firehose

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Microsoft has announced yet more tweaks to Bing, this time adding a new "social" site to its search engine.

The company already turned on the "firehose" for Twitter back in October last year.

Bing.com/social extends on that by offering what Redmond described as "the first search experience integrating the full Facebook firehose with non-pages content".

Twitter's real time estate will also be slotted into the social site, said Microsoft.

Bing's senior veep Yusuf Mehdi announced the near-real time search addition at the SMX Advanced event yesterday.

Switching on the Facebook firehose will allow Bing to grab status updates and shared links from the Mark Zuckerberg-run site's "fan pages".

All of which will be pleasing to the boydroid, who recently faced a storm of protest over changes to Facebook, after it was made more of a data goldmine for advertisers.

It's unclear how much Microsoft will be paying for the privilege of switching on Facebook's stream of Web2.0rhea. The software maker has of course already sunk $240m into Zuckerberg's stalker empire, which gave Steve Ballmer's firm a mere 1.6 per cent of preferred Facebook stock.

But presumably that deal ought to bring the price down a tad. Currently, sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are paying untold amounts for direct access to the Twitter firehose.

"In addition to Tweets, we also search through Facebook fan page updates and surface matching results. For example, a search for 'NBA Finals' will return fan-page content from Facebook, including posts from a local TV station," explained Microsoft's Lawrence Kim in a blog post.

The company was keen to be seen to be doing the right thing by pointing out that non-fan pages will only show popular shared links from Facebook users in the aggregate form via Bing.

Only those status updates that people have foolishly set to be viewed by "everyone" will be farmed out to Microsoft's search engine.

"No names or photos, or even the text in the update associated with the link are published - just the link in aggregate."

Microsoft is clearly mindful of both Google and Facebook's recent privacy howlers, and has thereby taken a softly-softly approach with its Bing social slab. Kim did hint that the vendor is working on more features for its "social vertical", however, which could yet see the search engine become a more aggressive data farmer in the spirit of Mountain View. ®

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