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Google has received significant public reprimand for their "a little more Google for everyone" Google+ powered Search Plus Your World. Twitter was outraged. Facebook was disappointed. Microsoft was...wait, why isn’t Microsoft saying anything?

Seattle Is Not So Private About Google's Privacy

Microsoft has never been one to take the moral high ground when it comes to Google. In fact, Microsoft placed full-page ads in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times last week to criticize Google’s new condensed privacy policy. Although Microsoft collects plenty of data from its users and Google’s condensed policy only details the information it has been collecting for years -- the policy changes created a public relations nightmare for Google.

The attack on Google’s privacy policy was just the latest example of Google and Microsoft’s long running contention. Microsoft had ample opportunity to take a jab at Google’s Search Plus Your World’s questionable ranking strategies, but they did not. Nor did Microsoft take the opportunity to highlight the fact that they are the only search engine that has explicit agreements to access data from Facebook and Twitter.

But, It's a Little More Private on Social Search

Microsoft has been moving very slowly to incorporate social data into their search results. According to Stefan Weitz, Director of Search at Bing, Microsoft has been incorporating social signals in a very limited fashion into search for a year and a half. Bing also offers a separate social search page that provides users search results that incorporates social content. Microsoft wants to go further than aggregating social data; they want to understand the social signals and use them to augment search results. It is a very, very complex endeavor to figure out what a “like” or a “retweet” really means. 

It appears that the Seattle giant is actively attempting to avoid the very public missteps Google has made. Regarding Google’s Search Plus Your World, Weitz said,

“They [Google] are doing a nice job on their own handling this problem. But they are learning just like we are. They did what we didn’t want to do, which was make the user experience peppered with this stuff, with +1s everywhere, the Google+ content in the top corner.”

It’s likely that Microsoft is getting close to its own search + social offering, and there are still plenty of mistakes to make. Microsoft is likely trying to avoid saying things about Google that will be parroted back in a few months. It’s unclear if Google will see Microsoft’s gesture as goodwill -- especially given the latest privacy campaign.