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.
(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.
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.
said publicly that Facebook and Twitter declined to provide them adequate data
for its personal search service. Facebook has declined to weigh in on the
record. Yet a source familiar with the company's negotiations with Google
claimed that senior executives at Google insisted all information would need to
be public and available to all.
reason Facebook has a Bing integration
and not a Google
integration is that Bing agreed to terms for protecting user privacy that
Google would not," the source told search expert and Federated Media publisher
John Battelle Jan. 12
. Battelle, who wrote the seminal book,
"The Search," has well-placed sources at both companies.
disagreed with this characterization on the record.
"We want to set the
record straight," Rachel Whetstone, senior vice president of communications
at Google, said in a statement emailed to eWEEK
"In 2009, we were negotiating with Facebook over access to its data, as
has been reported. To claim that we couldn't reach an agreement because
Google wanted to make private data publicly available is simply untrue."
familiar with negotiations on Google's side of the table told Battelle Facebook
insisted that Google agree to not use publicly available Facebook information,
or information already readily available to search engines, to build out a "social
service." That request came in conjunction with getting Google to agree
not to use Facebook's fire hose feed, or private data to build a social
To wit, Google
claims Facebook didn't want Google to use any of its information, public or
private, to build a Facebook rival, such as Google+. This brings the argument
full circle and envelops it in a cloud of irony.
to get access to Facebook data over two years ago, but the shrewdly suspicious company
played its hand very carefully so as not to crack the door for Google to
compete with it using Facebook's data. Battelle opined:
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
So here we
are, with the media, Twitter and EPIC calling for blood. Gizmodo
and others have claimed the new personal search feature infuses
with cluttered results, and are switching to Microsoft's
Bing. Facebook engineers are cheering these complainants on in the background, according
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.
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.