Yesterday, Bing rolled out a new “Linked Pages” feature that looks interesting. But using the feature gives Bing permission to post to Facebook on your behalf. That’s a lot of permission that seems necessary only as a way for Bing to pimp itself. It also means your friends might soon be posting Linked Pages to your Facebook Timeline.
How Linked Pages Look
With Linked Pages, you can add pages that will appear in association with your name or those of your friends, when those pages are viewed by you or others you are friends with on Facebook. For example, here’s how my page now looks, in a search for my name on Bing:
You can’t see any of the Linked Pages that I added because, as the first arrow shows, Bing changed the search to “daniel sullivan” and “danny sullivan,” which turns out to disable them. Worse, even though I’m signed in, and Bing knows who I am on Facebook and that I’ve already linked pages, it still prompts me to add them again.
If I use the link to change to search to only show “danny sullivan” matches, finally, the Linked Pages I added appear:
Adding Linked Pages To Friends
The arrow points to me. I added several Linked Pages in all. I also added one to Greg Sterling, one of my other editors here on Search Engine Land.
Who Sees These?
Logged out of Facebook, no Linked Pages appear to show up on Bing when you’re searching. But logged-in, it’s not entirely clear who sees these.
In my case, I’m pretty sure anyone I’m friends with will see all my Linked Pages, if they’re using Bing while signed-in to Facebook. I’m pretty sure others who aren’t friends with me won’t see them. But it’s not clear.
It’s less clear what happens with Greg. I added that link to his listing. Do only I see it? Do only my friends see it? Do only our mutual friends see it? Does anyone signed-in to Facebook see it?
I’d like more clarity about this, and I’m checking with Bing about it. Certainly the idea that people might start tagging pages you don’t want associated with your profile is kind of a pain. But that leads to the bigger issue in my mind, that to make Linked Pages work, Bing wants the keys to your Facebook account.
Bing Gets Permission To Do What?
Consider this message I got, when I used the feature:
To link pages to my profile, Bing needs permission to post to Facebook as me? To potentially post “status messages, notes, photos and videos” on my behalf?
That’s a lot of permission just to link a few pages to my profile. I can link pages to my Google+ Profile without granting any of these types of posting permissions to Google+. But Bing wants me to let a third-party have them all?
If you choose “Skip,” by the way, the feature won’t work. You won’t be able to post to Linked Pages at all, in my testing.
Look What’s On My Timeline
Sure enough, after granting the permission and linking one of my pages, I found this had been posted to my Facebook Timeline:
I actually added several pages, but Bing and/or Facebook has the smarts not to post them all. But still, why do I need or want it to post any of them? Why wasn’t I at least asked if I wanted that to happen.
Look What’s On My Friend’s Timeline
That leads me back to that page I added to Greg. According to Bing, he should get a notification that I’ve done this. Indeed, he even got this from my right on his timeline:
Since it’s Greg’s timeline, he can remove this, if he wants. But it’s kind of annoying. If you haven’t blocked your timeline from letting people post to it, anyone you’re friends with may start adding it with these links, not to mention adding anything to your Linked Page on Bing that other friends will see.
That would be fine if you were really friends with all your “friends” on Facebook, but many people are friends with coworkers or others that they aren’t necessarily that close to.
To me, there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t be able to link pages they want to their own page without having to give Bing this type of permission. As for linking pages to your friends, that seems like a feature that should overtly ask your friends if they want to allow, not just happen if they haven’t proactively blocked posting to their wall.
Postscript: Bing tells us that technically, it doesn’t need to post to Facebook in order to create Linked Pages. However, it does this in order to:
- Allow you to express that you’ve added pages to your profile through announcements on your Facebook Timeline
- Notify friends if you’ve added links to their profiles via their Facebook Timelines and also via the Facebook notification system
- Bing Launches Linked Pages, Promises Better People Search Results
- Bing & Facebook See Deeper Search Integration With “Linked Pages”