Russia’s Yandex partners with Facebook in quest to create “social search” service

Russian web giant Yandex has struck a deal with Facebook(s fb) that will see it index publicly posted content on the social network that comes from the countries Yandex covers – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

This “firehose” deal is similar to that signed a few years back between Facebook and Microsoft(s msft), relating to the Bing search engine. Twitter(s twtr) also invites others to drink from its firehose, and Yandex has been a happy partner on that front since early 2012.

Yandex is often referred to as Russia’s answer to Google(s goog), and a blog post on Tuesday obliquely referred to a key difference between the two when it comes to partnerships:

“Here at Yandex, we’ve always said that our specialisation is information-search services, aggregation and the structuring of content. We don’t compete with anybody in the sphere of social networks; instead we seek to collaborate with all the players. We see one of our key tasks as being the creation of social search services, using content from all the popular social networks in equal measure. “

The aim here is to establish relevance via inferred popularity — the basis of all web search, but increasingly powered by social networking activity — and to turn Yandex into a cross-social-network search hub of sorts. Yandex has already been including some Facebook results in its “blogs” section, but now this data will feed into its core search service.

Being able to tap into all the big social networks will, the post suggested, allow Yandex users to “find an old friend without having to register on every single social network one after another. It would also allow a user to tap in to all the discussions of some interesting event all together in one place.”

Yandex may be a regional player, but it has over 60 percent of the Russian search market, compared to Google’s 25 percent, and this multi-social-network search capability should solidify that lead quite nicely.

In early 2013 Facebook stymied an attempt by Yandex to launch a smartphone app called Wonder — which provided similar functionality through a voice interface — by cutting off Yandex’s access to its Graph API. According to a Yandex spokesman, there are many differences between that and this deal:

“Wonder took into account posts from a user’s timeline only (not the whole firehose), including ‘Private’ posts made by Facebook friends and visible for certain user (and only to him). It was all about personalization. Plus, according to today’s deal, we get access to those posts/shares/comments made by users from Russia [and former Soviet states] and Turkey only, not the whole Facebook firehose.”