Microsoft, Google integrating Twitter into search results

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The Independent Online

Microsoft on Wednesday began integrating Twitter messages into its new Internet search engine Bing and arch rival Google announced plans to do the same.

Microsoft unveiled its real-time Twitter search feature at a Web 2.0 Summit here and said it also planned to incorporate status updates from social network Facebook into Bing.

Within hours of the announcement by the US software giant, search leader Google said it too had reached an agreement with the popular microblogging service to include Twitter updates in search results.

The Twitter feature on Bing is already active and can be accessed at bing.com/twitter while Google said it would roll out its product "in the coming months."

"We have a deal with Twitter," Google vice president of search products Marissa Mayer said at the summit. "We will be featuring tweets in our search results as well as building a real-time search."

Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's online services group, demonstrated a Bing Twitter search feature that went live Wednesday.

"We are going to get access to all of the public Twitter information in real time," Mehdi said, adding the Facebook status feed will be introduced at a later date.

"We are giving Bing a feed of data made open to everyone," Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said at the summit.

"No money exchanged hands. We are not trying to make money on data."

Neither Microsoft nor Facebook specified when Bing would begin delivering status updates from the Palo Alto, California-based social networking service.

"This is just a start," said Qi Lu, president of Microsoft's online services group. Google and Microsoft each declined to discuss financial terms of the deals.

Due to a freshly-inked deal with Microsoft, Yahoo! also expects to be able to deliver Twitter and Facebook updates on its Web pages, Yahoo! chief technology officer Aristotle Balogh told AFP at the summit.

"Whatever they get, we get," Balogh said, referring to Bing being relied on to deliver search results to Yahoo! websites.

Effectively searching real-time commentary has been "an elusive goal," Paul Yiu of the Bing social search team said in a blog post detailing the search engine's Twitter search feature.

"Twitter is producing millions of tweets every minute on every subject you can imagine," Yiu said. "Search needs to keep up."

Bing engineers began collaborating with Twitter shortly after Microsoft launched its new search engine about five months ago.

Bing's Twitter search delivers lists of "tweets" related to topics typed into a search box.

It ranks tweets by relevance, taking into account factors such as the author, content, and how many times comments are "re-tweeted" by others.

Bing searches can also be done by the "hashtags" used to group Twitter messages.

Protected or deleted tweets do not get presented in Bing search results, which will keep comments indexed for no more than seven days, according to Yiu.

Facebook status messages intended to be public -- instead of just viewed by friends -- are expected to be integrated into Bing.

Twitter and Facebook search features promise to be a boost for Bing, which has made steady if unspectacular progress in wresting a bigger share of the lucrative search and advertising market away from Google.

Not to be outdone, Mayer used the summit stage to demonstrate a "social search" feature to launch at its Labs website in "a couple of weeks."

The "beta," or test, service goes beyond Twitter feeds to incorporate in search results pictures, comments and other content from people's online social networks.

"We have inserted on the bottom of the page content by people in your social network," Mayer said while demonstrating.

To dabble with the social search feature people will have to "opt-in" at Google Labs.

Google remains the Internet search king, commanding approximately 65 percent of the US market.

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