Google Search, Plus Your World: What Is It and How to Stop It

1 of 11

Google Search, Plus Your World: What Is It and How to Stop It

In October 2009, Microsoft announced an integration between Bing and Twitter at the Web 2.0 Summit along with hints of a similar agreement with Facebook. Google promptly turns around and unveils its own deal to index Twitter tweets at the event. These are arguably the two biggest social search deals to date. Google, however, does not get a similar deal with Facebook.

2 of 11

No Title

No Tweets for You, GoogleGoogle and Twitter's fire hose tweet deal lapsed in July 2011 and was never renewed right around the time Google+ was launched. Google promised to bring real-time search to Google+ in time. It is reported that Twitter wanted more money than Google was willing to pay for the tweets.

3 of 11

No Facebook for Google

Facebook and Google never inked any agreement to share data. Thanks to the SPYW launch, we have a better idea of why Facebook and Google couldn't come to terms on a social search agreement. Well, we have a he-said, she-said anyway. Facebook allegedly told search expert/author/publisher John Battelle that Google insisted all Facebook information would need to be public and available to all. Google denied this, telling 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."

4 of 11

The Plot Thickens

We only know these details, albeit from background sources, thanks to SPYW. When users tried it, they noticed that Facebook and Twitter content was not included in the indexing as it would be for normal, non-personalized search results, a fact Google confirmed.

5 of 11

Twitter Tweets

Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray, a former Googler, took umbrage with the exclusion of Twitter content from SPYW. The company complained formally: "For years, people have relied on Google to deliver the most relevant results anytime they wanted to find something on the Internet. Often, they want to know more about world events and breaking news. Twitter has emerged as a vital source of this real-time information with more than 100 million users sending 250 million Tweets every day on virtually every topic. As weve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results. We're concerned that as a result of Googles changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that's bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users."

6 of 11

Google SPYW Breaks the Web

Google said it was surprised by Twitter's outrage since it chose not to renew its tweet agreement with Google. The company also said it does not have access to crawl all the information on some sites (hello Twitter, Facebook), so it's "not possible for us to surface all that content. Google also doesn't have access to the social graph information from some sites, so it's not possible to help you find information from those people you're connected to." Facebook has stayed quiet through it all. Search Engine Land editor Danny Sullivan, who argued Google could still incorporate Facebook and Twitter's public data, noted how SPYW disrupts Google search results by pushing Google+ posts and brands over others.

7 of 11

Why SPYW Is Bad

The problem with excluding Facebook and Twitter isn't just that Google is excluding rivals and appearing to behave in an anti-competitive manner while flouting the company's founding tenets for providing unbiased search results. It's that it's the continuation of a perceived pattern on Google's behalf, where the company has pushed down results from Yelp, Expedia and others in favor of its own services. Google's Schmidt himself went before Congress in September to deny claims that Google was "cooking" search results.

8 of 11

Ben Edelman's Criticism

Ben Edelman, a long-time Google critic who consults for various Google rivals,

9 of 11


The Electronic Privacy Information Center got involved Jan. 12, formally complaining about SPYW to the Federal Trade Commission, which is already investigating Google's search business practices. The FTC is reportedly tacking on the information privacy concern to its existing scrutiny of Google. That's pretty much where we're at today.

10 of 11

Much Ado About Everything

Battelle does a masterful job summing up the impact of Google+ on search: "When I wrote last year that Google = Google+, I meant it from a brand perspective. I didn't realize how literal it's become. Because with SPYW, all I'm getting is Google+ at the top of my results. I know I can turn SPYW off, and I probably will. Or, I can bail on Google+ altogether." Sound scary? After you do a search, click the globe near the upper right corner of the search results page to sub universal results for personal results in a specific search.

11 of 11


Of course, here is the challenge of doing so: risk of denigrating your Google+ rank. If you're willing to risk this on a greater scale, nix personal results altogether. First, make sure you're signed into your Google account and navigate over to Google search. Then click on the gear icon in the upper right corner. Click "Search settings." Scroll to the section marked "Personal results" and follow the direction on this slide. Then click save and you should see impersonal results going forward.