October 22, 2009, 2:02 PM — The search engine wars took a dramatic turn yesterday, with Google and Microsoft both announcing real-time search deals with Twitter. Additionally, Microsoft struck a deal with Facebook to index status updates on its Bing search engine, and Google introduced Social Search, which integrates your friends' social networking information directly into search results.
All of this means that the "10 Blue Links" to which we've grown accustomed could be changing in a big way, and the ways we use social networking could change, too. I'm left with some questions on how this will affect consumers, but I'll try to piece together what I can from what we've learned:
How will all this stuff work?
You can try the beta of Bing's Twitter search now. It's similar to searching on Twitter itself, but you can see the top links being shared, which is useful for tracking down hot stories. Microsoft hasn't been specific about its Facebook integration plans, and Google has been similarly cagey about how Twitter integration will work when it launches "in the coming months." Google did, however, show off Social Search: if you're using Google Profile and have friends in Google Contacts, a Web search will bring up results from FriendFeed and other social networking service, mid-way down the page.
What's the benefit for consumers?
With Twitter, Google sees utility in "real-time observation, say, snow conditions at your favorite ski resort," while Microsoft says it wants to keep tabs on "all the latest chatter," such as breaking news, celebrity gossip, and sports talk. These are different philosophies, and how you benefit will probably depend on what you personally like or dislike about social networking.
How will Google and Bing add value to Twitter and Facebook?In other words, how will searching on Google and Bing be better than using Twitter and Facebook directly? Much of that remains to be seen, but so far, I like how Bing is pulling up top links from Twitter searches. I'd like to see more things along that line, where data is used in clever ways instead of merely indexed for searches.
How will privacy be protected?