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LIVE: Microsoft Announces Twitter, Facebook Deals


UPDATE: Big news below: Microsoft has signed deals to get full feeds from Twitter and Facebook. Shortly, a dedicated beta site, bing.com/twitter, will have the ability to search full Twitter feeds. Search of Facebook public data will come later. (UPDATE 2: As I figured, Google just announced its own deal with Twitter??hough not Facebook.)

Here?? the information Microsoft just sent out, with more details below:

Qi Lu, President of Microsoft?? Online Services Division is announcing a new beta feature that enables people to easily search Twitter?? real-time information feed directly in Bing. This new feature helps people make better decisions and more fully understand Twitter conversations by collecting, analyzing and uniquely presenting real-time Twitter content.

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More specifically, the new Twitter developments in Bing include:

* A real-time index of the Tweets that match your search queries in results. This feature makes it easier to follow what’s going on by reducing the amount of duplicates, spam, and adult content.

* Giving you the option to rank tweets either by most recent or by “best match,” where we consider a Tweeter’s popularity, interestingness of the tweet, and other indicators of quality and trustworthiness.

* Providing the top links shared on Twitter around your specific search query by showcasing a few of the most relevant tweets.

Additionally, Bing automatically expands those small URLs (like bit.ly) to enable you to understand what people are tweeting about. Instead of showing standard search result captions, we select 2 top tweets to give users a glimpse of the sentiment around the shared link.

You can try out the new Bing Twitter search beta here momentarily or learn more about it at the Bing blog. Please note that this is a U.S. only feature at this time.

Facebook Partnership

As part of his on-stage discussion at the summit, Dr. Lu is also announcing a global partnership with Facebook that will bring public Facebook status updates to Bing search results. The experience will be available at a later date.

Qi Lu, president of Microsoft’s Online Services Division, is onstage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, in an interview with conference co-host Tim O’Reilly. Since joining Microsoft from Yahoo, he has been responsible for trying to turn Microsoft from an also-ran in search to at least a No. 2 to Google—something that likely will happen if Microsoft’s search deal with Yahoo passes regulatory muster early next year.

I’ll liveblog the highlights as they develop. Here’s what he has to say:

Q: What can you accomplish at Microsoft that you couldn't at Yahoo?

Lu: Ten years (at Yahoo) is a long time. Left in August, goofed around for awhile. Then joined Microsoft to head the online division. The main reason was the opportunity to have a big impact.

How we think about search: We think of search holistically. Need to determine user intent. Today's form of search, typing into a search box, is just one specific instance of determining intent. Intent can be latent or recurring.

Q: To capture intent, you also need to capture context. Are you gathering new forms of data to capture that?

Lu: We're trying to be a mind-reader.

Then he goes into a history of search, from charting link structures to determining commercial queries and intent.

New kinds of material beyond pages, like photos and videos. We need to build more technologies to tap into the rich resources on the Web.

Q: Any truth to rumors that you're doing a deal with Twitter?

In response, Microsoft Senior VP of the online audience business Yusuf Mehdi comes onstage to do update on Bing and the next wave of Bing: He mentions that many elementary school kids are switching to Bing because of the pretty photo on the home page. OK.

Then Mehdi talks about access to real-time information. OK, here it comes: Today Microsoft is making two announcements. We are going live with a beta of an offering, Bing Wave 2.

First a deal with Twitter--to get information in real time. Also a deal with Facebook to get public information--that will come later.

So they're getting full feed of tweets searchable inside Bing. As Kara Swisher confirmed in a post this morning at her Boomtown blog, it probably won't be exclusive, but for the moment, it's a big leap over Google.

Bing will provide popular tweets as a filter. Also if a tweet is being retweeted multiple times, that will rise to the surface. And tweets with links to quality sites carry more authority, if I heard correctly, with results based on the links inside tweets being shared the most. Can see stories related to the topic. Will have spam and porn filtering as well.

Will also have hottest topics on Twitter in the form of a "tag cloud," with hottest topics the largest and most bold.

We can tell what's buzzy and what's trending up and down.

Essentially, in trying it out, I see that you can get a short list of most recent tweets on a topic and below that, probably more useful, the most popular links in those tweets. New tweets show up in real time. There's a pause button if that gets to be too much to deal with.

I didn't catch all the details, but you can get the full treatment at Microsoft's Bing blog.

Back to a couple more questions to Lu:

Q: Financial terms of the Twitter deal?

Lu: Not disclosing.

Q: Length of deal?

Lu: The key is this is a start.

A real-time corpus like Twitter, there's a lot of velocity signals. Can use tweets to augment the search experience.

Not much more detail at this point, especially on any financial terms, but getting access to this data could be a big deal for Microsoft if it finds good ways to surface the most useful tweets and links within them. That's a tough job, but for now this is a coup for Bing and a blow for Google. I suspect, however, that Google won't be out of this game for long.


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