Google and Microsoft Battle Via Twitter

The current tensions between search giant Google and competitor Microsoft has been likened to a high school tiff as one student tells on another for looking at his answers. Google accused Microsoft of copying its search results and passing them off as Bing results. With a “sting operation” from Google, counter accusations from Microsoft, and plenty of feedback from tweeters, this is shaping up to be quite a battle of the titans, or as one tweet has it a “battle between awesome Microsoft and evil Google.” Is Google getting the worst of it?

Google has very clearly stated that Bing “results came directly from Google.” In a blog post, the search giant reveals how it came to that conclusion. On a summer day in 2010, things were slow at Google, and they were “looking at the search results for an unusual misspelled query [torsorophy]. Google returned with the correct spelling – tarsorrhaphy – along with results for the corrected query.” They took a look on Bing, which offered no results for the misspelling. Later in the summer, Bing started offering results that aligned with Google, but did not offer the corrected spelling. Google was suspicious and did their own test by searching for 100 unusual search terms. Their conclusion: “Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results—a cheap imitation.”

Microsoft isn’t backing down from the beast. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s Online Services Division, wrote, “In simple terms, Google’s ‘experiment’ was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as ‘click fraud’…We do not copy results from any of our competitors. Period. Full stop.”

Google shot back by saying that they looked forward to “competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there – algorithms built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results from a competitor.”

Spunky Microsoft counters that Google must have been worried about the competition that Bing was presenting, especially after a series of improvements in October 2010.  Mehdi says, “[A] short time later, here come the honeypot attacks. Is the time purely coincidental?”

Google risks being perceived as the big playground bully who is picking on the little search engine, Bing.  In any case, the fight is being taken up on Twitter, where Microsoft supporters volley with Google supporters. Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw writes, “Don’t be fooled. Google wants to change the subject because they’re under investigation in the US and Europe.” And later, “Google collects customer data from Chrome and Android. Pot calling kettle black?”

Even Matt Cutts is getting in on the action: “we created those arbitrary synthetic results, and they later appeared on Bing. Timeline is clear”

Also clear is the animosity among the search engines and the unwillingness of either to back down from the fight.

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