Google’s new weapon in its tussle with Facebook for dominance of the Web has drawn circumspect reactions. It’s step to include more of users’ personal information in their search results has wider connotations, experts point out. There are valid reasons to believe so. We give you a quick grasp its background and ramifications:
- The Internet search giant’s new feature, known as Search plus Your World, blends information like photos, comments, news etc posted on Google+ into all relevant search results of a user. Now, keying in the first few letters of your colleague’s or friend’s name will result in in autocomplete highlighting a personalized profile prediction.
- Choosing a predicted profile will take you to a page for your colleague/ friend that includes data from the respective Google+ profile as well as relevant results related to them, thanks to Google Instant. Once you opt for that profile, , you will see a button so as to add them to your own circles, if you are a signed-in Google+ user, right on your results page. However, not everyone would want the results to be dotted with such postings and/ or personal information. In other words, one will get results customized to one’s interests and social connections.
- The idea is apparently to make users themselves the focal point of the whole search experience. This concept of a personal search engine to deliver customized results may outwardly seem a user friendly one, but it’s also apparently an effort to overpower Facebook. The impact for now may be limited since Google+ has about just 40 million users.
- Google has stated it wishes to incorporate information from the social networking giant, albeit not allowed an access to all of it available on the site. The question to be asked is: if Google is indeed doing the best thing for its users or the best thing for itself.
- When a user visits Google or Google+, photos from Picasa, its photo-sharing service, information from Google+ and gradually all other Google services will be considered to deliver personalized results. This could make some users uncomfortable from point of view privacy, but
- Google maintains that it has switched to technology, which encrypts its search results. It’s also introducing a new toggle on the results page where one can see what one’s search results will look like sans personal content, and with one single click, it’s possible to get an unpersonalized view of results. It provides interface elements as well as control settings like those in Google+. For instance, personal results are marked as ‘Public’, ‘Limited’ or ‘Only you’.
- Users can turn off the feature through a setting available in their personal preferences or can do so on a search-by-search basis simply by clicking an icon of the globe on the search results page and not that of a person. Privacy groups are already opposing the new search feature for privacy & antitrust concerns. Google shows not all social posts, but only the Google Plus accounts. Twitter is aggrieved because the change would make any timely information from it tougher to locate on Google, the site claims.