Bing and Facebook have announced a partnership to augment normal search engine results with social media data; the intention is to make search results more personalized and relevant by by combining individual preferences with information pulled from Facebook “friends”. From the consumer side, this technology should be very useful in deciding which movie to see or where to go for dinner.

However, the risks of the Bing/Facebook search and recommendation engine run straight to the heart of growing privacy concerns. Facebook has a record of sharing user information without permission: the Wall Street Journal recently reported that of the top 10 Facebook apps, all 10 had moved user data over to ad companies, and some were even capturing and monetizing information about the friends of those users. This means that combining Bing’s search capability with friend activity could potentially make the social media site even more invasive than ever.

The Facebook experience may be instructive for retailers; as retailers acquire and use customer data with greater frequency, the pressure from third parties to help monetize that data in new ways will increase as well. What’s your take on all of this? Does the addition of friend activity to search via Bing add incremental value to the user experience, or have Facebook and Bing really gone too far? Give us your thoughts!


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