If Facebook drops a search provider, but nobody cared, did it really happen?
Reuters reported late Friday that Facebook ended a deal with Microsoft to show Bing web results in its search engine. Apparently, the deal ended “a while ago” but nobody noticed.
Facebook’s search function used Bing to show results whenever it wasn’t able to provide its own results for the last few years, but as the company moves into building its own social search product, it doesn’t need such a partnership.
The company said in a statement that “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.”
It seems unlikely to me that the search partnership ever meant anything meaningful for both Facebook and Microsoft; there’s simply no need for people to search the web on Facebook when browsers give instant access to the search engine of their choice.
Facebook appears to have realized this, too, instead focusing on offering powerful tools for finding people, posts and news. These areas are Facebook’s strengths, so it only makes sense for the company to focus on surfacing the best information it can on its own.
With well over a billion active users, Facebook building its own search tool and attempting to control which information is surfaced makes sense. Search is an opportunity to keep users on the social network; if it can answer user queries without them ever needing to leave, that’s a natural win for the social network.
Facebook search is certainly in its infancy right now; with a billion searches every day on the social network it’s a huge opportunity for the company to take away some market share from Google.