Microsoft Privacy & Safety Team addresses Bing-Facebook integration privacy questions

It was announced a few days ago that Facebook would be integrated with Bing search results. With this announcement there are sure to be questions raised on privacy concerns especially with all the recent news on Facebook’s security and privacy issues.

The Microsoft Privacy & Safety Team has written a quick blog post to help users understand Microsoft’s commitment to users privacy.

“One of the top things that privacy experts emphasized, and customers told us about all the Facebook features, was that privacy and control were very important to enabling Facebook information within Bing. So, we took that feedback very seriously and put user privacy at the core to all these features in Bing.  Bing’s “Liked Results”, for example, will surface content that is designated as “public” and linked to a person’s Facebook friends. This is the same information someone could access by viewing their Facebook network directly, except it adds relevancy by being presented alongside “traditional” Bing search results.

Our goal is to deliver the most recently shared links and information in a way that demonstrates our commitment to user privacy. While the social search feature only uses information from an individual’s Facebook network, we take additional steps to provide customers with greater control over their information and to help safeguard people’s privacy.

Some key functions we’ve built include:

  • You will be notified that we will be enhancing your Bing experience before we actually do it, with an opportunity to say “disable” or to go and learn more before you decide if you want to take advantage of the feature.
  • People will only see Facebook Profile Search results for people in their Facebook network when signed into Facebook. Users will only see “like” information from their Facebook friends. In both cases, only information that is intended to be shared broadly across the internet is shared.
  • Facebook requires users to be 13 or older to access its services, and Bing’s Facebook Profile Search feature will only surface results for users who are 18 or older based upon their Facebook profile.

While the benefits of a more personalized search experience are enabled by default if you are signed into Facebook, there is a control feature that sits at the top of the Bing Page and a notification with first five searches in Bing that enables customers to learn more about the feature or turn off the feature within Bing with a few simple clicks.

A final question we heard is whether people can see what you’re searching for. Your searches are private; your friends cannot see what you are searching for. Bing only connects with your Facebook network to bring you the content they have “liked” and the people in your network you know. Your search information is not shared back with your Facebook network.”

Hope that dispels any privacy concerns some may have had!

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Lee Whittington is a Tech Reporter and a Developer with the TWC Team. He has been writing for TWCN for several years and has also developed several freeware apps for The Windows Club, most of which have been very popular worldwide.