Less than a week after announcing new in-house search capabilities, Facebook has quietly stopped serving up results from Microsoft's Bing search engine. The change, made without fanfare, was confirmed by a Facebook spokesperson, according to a report by Reuters.
Bing, rolled out by Microsoft in 2009, remains a distant second behind Google in terms of search engine market share. According to the latest U.S. desktop search engine rankings from the analyst firm comScore, Google led the way in October 2014 with a 67 percent market share. Bing and other Microsoft sites came in second at 19.5 percent, while Yahoo had a 10.3 percent market share.
We reached out to Facebook for more information, and were told by a spokesperson via e-mail: "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."
A Microsoft spokesperson echoed those comments, noting in an e-mail, "Facebook recently changed its search experience to focus on helping people tap into information that's been shared with them on Facebook vs. a broader set of Web results. We continue to partner with Facebook in many different areas. "
Search: 'A Long-term Effort'
Last Monday, Tom Stocky, Facebook's Vice President of Search, unveiled several changes aimed at making it easier for users to find posts that had been shared with them.
"You've told us the most important thing is being able to find posts you've seen before, and now you can," Stocky wrote in a news post. "With a quick search, you can get back to a fun video from your graduation, a news article you've been meaning to read, or photos from your friend's wedding last summer." Stocky added that Facebook would be making those new search capabilities available for iPhone users as well as for desktop users.
"Your search results are personalized and unique to you and, as always, you can only see things that have been shared with you," Stocky noted. "Search at Facebook is a long-term effort. Today is a step toward helping you tap into the experiences and perspectives of your friends."
Facebook first rolled out its "Graph Search" tool in beta in January 2013. It said its search offering was designed to help users "map out their relationships with the people and things they care about." That map of relationships is described by Facebook as "the graph," which explains the name it has given to its search tool.
The social networking site said its Graph Search is different from Web search tools that look for results that best match a set of keywords provided by the searcher. Graph Search, on the other hand, focuses on phrases such as "my friends in New York who like Jay-Z" to find relevant shared content about other people, places and photos on Facebook.
"Another big difference from Web search is that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience, and most content isn't public," Stocky and Facebook Director of Engineering Lars Rasmussen noted last year upon the launch of Graph Search. "We've built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook. It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook."