Google, Facebook Trade Barbs Over Social Search
Google and Facebook trade blows over how their negotiations to have Facebook user data indexed on Google.com broke down, as the "Search, plus your world" controversy soldiers on.Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook have engaged in a low-key war of words, following the controversial launch of Google's "Search, plus your world" personal search feature Jan. 10. Search, plus your world has roiled the technology industry like no product since Google Buzz, the social conversation service the company replaced with its Google+ social network. That product forms the crux of the personal search service, which injects posts and pictures from users' Google+ accounts into their search results.
However, it eschews such content from Facebook and Twitter. Google's failure to treat third-party sources equal to Google+ in search results has the media, Twitter and the Electronic Privacy Information Center complaining that Google is unfairly using its search engine to pump up Google+. EPIC complained to the FTC that Google is skewering user privacy just to keep up with Facebook.
Asking Google to not leverage that data in anything that might constitute a "social service" is anathema to a company who claims its mission to crawl all publicly available information, organize it, and make it available. It's one thing to ask that Google not use Facebook's own social graph and private data to build new social services-after all, the social graph is Facebook's crown jewels. But it's quite another thing to ask Google to ignore other public information completely.So here we are, with the media, Twitter and EPIC calling for blood. Gizmodo and others have claimed the new personal search feature infuses Google.com with cluttered results, and are switching to Microsoft's Bing. Facebook engineers are cheering these complainants on in the background, according to AllThingsDigital. EPIC, which spurred the Federal Trade Commission to impose privacy audits on Google for the next 20 years after the botched Buzz experiment violated user privacy, could spur another investigation of Google. Recall that the FTC is the same regulatory agency that is already looking into whether Google beat down Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia and others in its search results. Expect the FTC at the behest of EPIC and the media circus to take a hard look at Google's new Search, plus your world service.