In a move so shocking that the change had been made “a while ago” and drew no one’s attention, Facebook has stopped using Bing to provide web search results for the platform.
Facebook has begun rolling out the new ability for users to search Facebook posts, including comments and pictures, 1 and this somewhat coincides with the platform giving Bing searches the ax. A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters:
“We’re not currently showing web search results in Facebook Search because we’re focused on helping people find what’s been shared with them on Facebook… We continue to have a great partnership with Microsoft in lots of different areas.”
Before the changes, Facebook users had the ability to do a Bing web search from the search bar at the top of their screen, and Facebook profiles would sometimes show up in Bing searches.
Facebook relationship status with Microsoft: It’s Complicated
Reuters apparently wasn’t able to get a response from Microsoft before publishing their article, but Microsoft apparently did tell VentureBeat:
“Facebook recently changed its search experience to focus on helping people tap into information that’s been shared with them on Facebook versus a broader set of web results. We continue to partner with Facebook in many different areas.”
The relationship between Facebook and Microsoft goes back to 2007, about three billion years ago in Internet time. Microsoft invested $240 million and received a 1.6% stake in the nascent social media platform as well as being given the task of providing ads for Facebook in international markets. Facebook started handling their own banner ads in 2010 after deciding to take more control over advertising on the site, but they also began incorporating Bing searches.
While PC Mag notes that we don’t actually know how many Bing searches originated in Facebook, the removal of Bing may not have a significant impact on the search engine’s current 20% market share based on the fact that pretty much no one noticed when Facebook changed things.
Facebook Vs. Google?
Zuckerberg also made some comments that have me and a few others speculating that Facebook’s search engine may eventually go head to head with the Leviathan that is Google. He apparently noted in an analyst conference call in July that search was a key initiative, and during that call, Zuckerberg stated:
“There is more than a trillion posts, which some of the search engineers on the team like to remind me, is bigger than any Web search corpus out there.” 2
He also apparently hinted that, due to the amount of information available on Facebook, the platform could replace web search engines as a method of answering certain types of questions. While this doesn’t necessarily mean there’s any intention of turning the Facebook search engine into a web search engine, it certainly sounds like Google and Bing may face some competition from Facebook in the future.
Will Facebook Monetize The New Search System?
I haven’t seen anyone else bring this up, but I wonder if and how Facebook intends to make the new search engine make money. I have a hard time believing this much time and effort is being put into something that isn’t going to provide an ROI, and there are a number of ways that it could be done, even without the need for external results. For example, companies could pay to have search results include their Facebook profile pages. Of course, this will depend on just how successful the new search system is since you’ll need people to be using it for any type of ad program to be successful.
 The roll-out is not taking place in one day, it’s being done over a period of time. If you haven’t got the feature yet, it will be enabled soon.
 Nice humblebrag, eh? “It’s just so hard to keep track of all my money. I mean, between the bank accounts, the investments, the houses, and don’t let me get started on the piles of diamonds…” – Mark Zuckerberg, probably
Image Credit: Niall Kennedy