Facebook says its relationship with Microsoft is still healthy, though the social networking site has ended a two-year run with the Bing search engine.
Just days after Facebook expanded its Graph Search to its mobile apps, the reach of the search was scaled back and no longer includes results from outside the social network.
"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," said a spokesperson. But "we continue to have a great partnership with Microsoft in lots of different areas."
The move occurred quietly and it hasn't been made clear exactly why Facebook no longer uses Bing. Back in January 2013, when Facebook and Microsoft came to terms, a Redmond representative spoke with PCWorld about the benefits of adapting web searches for the social networking platform.
"You're doing different types of searches," the Microsoft spokesperson said. "When somebody asks for 'restaurants in San Mateo,' the intent may be different than if you were doing a general-purpose search on Google or on Bing. It sounds nuanced, but it's one way we can improve the algorithm."
Facebook's Graph Search, which allows users to track down posts via keywords, is now even more limited to what it can offer users. It may be helpful every now and then for those looking up a thought-provoking soliloquy posted by a friend a few years back, but users will have to look elsewhere to query the World Wide Web about things like "can cat haz banana" or "how to identify brown recluses" or whatever question that springs up.
Claiming just shy of 11 percent of the search engine market share, the separation from Facebook is undoubtedly a blow to Microsoft. It's deal to power Yahoo with Bing brings Microsoft's share of the market to approximately 15 percent, but that still pales in comparison with Google's roughly 54 percent hold and Baidu's stake of about 31 percent.
But it isn't all bad news for Microsoft's search engine aspirations, as Mozilla has moved to support Yahoo's Bing-powered search and Apple has been mulling a similar move with Safari.
Having Bing in the raw or Yahoo search set as default helps to boost the odds that users will turn to either of those to conduct searches when questions about spiders or cats pop up in their heads, still driving traffic to Bing. However, users may still swap out Bing and set Google as the default search bar in Firefox and Safari.