Can a Google+ backlash help Bing?

Google -LogoThere’s been a bit of a tempest in a teapot brewing this week as Google introduced what it’s calling “Search Plus Your World”.  The feature, which in some respects is similar to the way Bing uses Facebook interactions to show you results “liked” by your Facebook friends, is another step towards what Google is calling “Social Search”, as they explain in a blog post introducing the new features.

Unfortunately for Google, however, not everyone is happy about the new changes.  GeekWire posted a good overview of the backlash, pointing out that at least one blogger from prominent website Gizmodo is switching from Google to Bing.

While we think that the somewhat heavy handed approach taken by Google to promote its fledgling Google+ service may indeed drive at least a few Google users away, Bing may “benefit” in other ways.  Probably the more important aspect of the change, especially in the long run, is how it affects concerns about Google  and anti-trust violations, something the US Justice Department is already looking into.

Dave Winer just wants a clean set of search results.  However, Google, with Google+, and Microsoft, with its relationships with Facebook and Twitter, know that the days of the open web, where a search engine could crawl the web cheaply and unencumbered, are behind us.

We’re increasingly living in a world where social graph information (information about you and your relationships with others: what they buy, where they go, and how that influences you, etc.) is locked away in silos, as social services realize the value of that graph and the information about us and our relationships that it contains.

Search = social, social = search, John Battelle says, as he notes that we’re in the beginnings of a “major paradigm shift” in search.  The question is, can Bing step in and provide better social search results without appearing as heavy handed as Google?  And can it provide those results without pouring billions more into Bing?

Google took a bit of a PR hit this week (and not only for Search Plus Your World), but it’s a stretch to think that Bing will benefit directly from it, at least immediately.  The bigger question revolves around the race for the social graph.  Can Bing continue to build on its relationship with Facebook, which soon may have a billion users?  Or can Google build out Google+, dodge the Justice Department, and capture a social graph of its own, all while keeping its users happy?

What do you think, did Google stumble enough this week to give Bing an opportunity to advance?  Or does Bing still lack the tools to move into the new world of Social Search, regardless of a Google misstep or two?