Facebook opens its doors to Google real-time search

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Google is to start indexing Facebook status updates in its ongoing effort to incorporate more social media into its real-time search results.

The search giant began incorporating Twitter posts into search results in December last year, and just last week announced it was integrating MySpace status updates too. By welcoming Facebook into the fold it now has the three most popular social media services covered or at least in theory.

It's not individual Facebook status updates that Google is indexing, but rather those from the three million or so Facebook Pages accounts, which Facebook describes as allowing "organisations, businesses, celebrities, and bands to broadcast great information to fans in an official, public manner".

Among the more popular Facebook Pages accounts are those for US president Barack Obama (7.6 million fans) and late pop star Michael Jackson (11 million fans).

The details of all individual accounts which make up more than 99 per cent of Facebook's 400 million users will remain off limits. On that front it means Google is still on the back foot compared to Microsoft's Bing search engine, which indexes all public status updates from any Facebook account.

Either way, Facebook becomes the 12th source to take its place under Google's real-time search umbrella, joining among others MySpace, Twitter and Google's own Google News and Jaiku. However, by being denied access to the masses of individual Facebook accounts Google is still being denied the largest single source of real-time social media news.

Bing, on the other hand, has full access access to all status updates where the individual's privacy settings are set to "share with all". Microsoft enjoys a close relationship with Facebook, having invested in the social networking giant to the tune of $240 million and provided its on-site search engine. The deal to share status updates was announced earlier this month, though it has yet to go live.

Like Google, Microsoft also has a deal with Twitter, with the microblogging service having announced both deals on October 22 last year.