Google is turning the faceless Web into the Facelook Web with its new “personal search tool linked wih social media.”

From the Washington Post:

Google is taking Googling yourself to a whole new level, by folding users’ personal data into Google search results. The personalized search results pull data from users’ Google accounts such as Picasa and Google+, and offers users the option to toggle between searching their own personal data and searching the Web as a whole.

Super!

Just two problems:

Antitrust issues and privacy concerns.

Regarding the former:

• Twitter, a microblogging service that allows its users to broadcast short, 140-character messages to groups of “followers,” said Google’s changes would make it tougher for people to find the breaking news often shared by users of its service.

“As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter. As a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant (search) results,” the company said in a statement.

“We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users,” the statement continued.

Twitter’s criticism, which came hours after Google announced new features aimed at making search results more personalized, underscored the growing competition between the Web companies. And it comes at a time when Google is facing antitrust scrutiny for favoring its own services within its search results.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to answer a question about whether the company might reach out to antitrust regulators about Google’s changes. (via Reuters)

 

• Google is diving deeper into personalized search results, debuting a feature called “Google Plus Your World”. But the debut of the service, which pulls results from your own content plus social circles from Google-owned services may catch the ire of regulators.

The company is fighting off calls on Capitol Hill over antitrust claims, and in September found itself testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. Senators wanted to gauge the power the Mountain View, Calif. company has over the search industry, and favoring Google’s own service is sure to raise questions. (via betanews)

Capitol Hill, here you come, Googleniks.

Then there’s the privacy thing, as Search Engine Land points out:

The new system will perhaps make life much easier for some people, allowing them to find both privately shared content from friends and family plus material from across the web through a single search, rather than having to search twice using two different systems.

However, Search Plus Your World may cause some privacy worries, as private content may appear as if it is exposed publicly (it is not). It might also cause concern by making private content more visible to friends and family than those sharing may have initially intended.

So, to summarize:

Google’s new search feature opens up new worlds of results for you.

Google’s new search feature shrinks the world of results for you.

Pick your poison.


John R. Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is a media analyst and mass communication professor at Boston University.
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