After Wave and Buzz tanked quite badly, Google has now turned their attention to their latest initiative called, ‘Search, Plus Your World’. What this does is display information from the user’s social networks along with the search information. Let’s say you search for “bikes” in Google, it will also pull images from your social networking profiles that may have a picture with that keyword. This has been attracting quite a lot of criticism from rival firms, like Facebook and Twitter. Social search was first unveiled back in 2009 where real-time search results would display feeds from Twitter as well. However, now that their contract with Twitter expired last year for real-time search, they’ll have to re-think their strategy.
Trying to make a social impact
Matt Cutts, Head of Google’s Webspam spoke to ET regarding this matter on his maiden voyage to Indian. He says that Google would want nothing more than to display more relevant information from other social networking sites, but they haven’t been able to find any common ground with other companies to continue it. “So, we had built the product once and worked with another social networking service – it unfortunately didn't work out very well. For two years, it worked great and then we had to turn it off and then the product was not useful afterwards. And people were unhappy about that”, said Cutts.
Earlier this year, Google combined information from Google+, along with search results, so this way, that information is pushed higher up the ranks, compared to other results. The limitation is that social search will only throw up results that are public in your profile or your friend’s profiles. He further added, “We do have to make sure we protect privacy. For example, if I share pictures from my vacation, I need to be very sure that those pictures aren't leaked to the outside world or someone who I don't intend to see it. Its very hard to get that right. For example, if I had shared a picture of you and then later on I decide to make that picture private, it's important that if you do a search, that picture should not show up after I made it private. It’s important that we not only understand the connections but in real time if someone really does have permission to be able to see a picture or a blog post“.
Google entered a bit late to social networking scene and has since been trying to get a sliver of the success pie that Facebook and Twitter have been enjoying over the years. They are still number one as far as search engines go, but can they make inroads in social networking as well? That remains to be seen.
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