Combining search functionality with social networking is all the rage, and Facebook's been testing stuff for a while...but it's just given its system a new sound effect: When you use Facebook search now, you'll get a Bing. That'll be Microsoft's Bing, in fact.
You know, the search engine that succeeded crappy MS Live Search, that's actually good for once, and which could even challenge Google a bit? It's now been moved from Facebook Search's "Sponsored Links" box into the main window, where it supplies the cross-platform search system with the external Web links that match the keyword phrase. In other words, it's the main external-facing search engine inside Facebook. Shall we call it Facebing?
That's quite a steal, given the soaring popularity of the Facebook, which is currently adding users at a rate somewhere north of a million a week, and which has recently become the fourth most visited site in the World. The number one slot on that list is occupied by Google, of course, and the number two slot is Microsoft's own Web presence. But the number three slot is Yahoo--which Microsoft's already sorted out with the recent Yahoo search-engine tie-up. While Facebook's search probably doesn't get as much click traffic as Yahoo's (when's the last time you used a social network's search engine to look at external data?) it'll undoubtedly boost Bing's fortunes. It's also probably a direct result of Microsoft's recent $240 million investment in Facebook.
While we can't predict how much this helps Microsoft, and how well Bing will continue to battle in the Search Engine Wars, one thing's for certain: The MS folks really, really mean business with their revamped search engine tech...and Google should perhaps begin to get a little uncomfortable.