Ever since Facebook Product Director Blake Ross unveiled his Don’t Be Evil bookmarklet, which uses Google’s search indexes to show what Google Search, plus your world would look like if it included results from Facebook, Twitter and other sources, the tech world has been waiting for Google to respond.
There will be no response, at least not publicly, not now.
As I understand it from speaking with sources familiar with Google’s thinking, Google isn’t convinced the bookmarkelt, which works in Chrome, Firefox and Safari, is the smoking gun Ross and others make it out to be.
Ross positioned the tool as a way to show how Google can include data from rival sources despite the fact that Google claimed it couldn’t do so because Facebook and Twitter wall off their meaningful data. See his demo video here:
For Twitter, that’s the firehose API, granting Google access to the company’s real-time datastream and tweets. Twitter shut off this hose last July, forcing Google to close its real-time search service.
Google can crawl Facebook profile pictures and other limited profile data, but not posts and photos and Likes, the way Microsoft’s Bing currently can. So for Search, plus your world, Google claimed it was hamstrung.
The bookmarklet shows a different side — namely Google+ results and Facebook and Twitter links. However, while it does show disparate data sources, you can make the case they’re not necessarily as relevant as Google intended the SPYW personal results to be.
For example, search WWE in Google search, with SPYW activated:
Now Click the Don’t Be Evil bookmarklet on the same WWE results page:
Note the arrows I used to highlight the first obvious differences in the results. SPYW points to a recent post from 5 hours ago. Don’t Be Evil takes you to the Twitter homepage.
What is more relevant? Who decides that? Google would argue its result is fresher, though you can’t escape the fact that in the screenshot, Google+ content reigns supreme.
Facebook’s Ross would argue that Don’t Be Evil offers more disparate choices, which is better for users.
In other words, subjectivity reigns here. If you’re an avid Google user, you may love the new, personal Googley experience. If you’re a Google user who loves to have other Web services aggregated in results, you’ll appreciate what Don’t Be Evil does.
Make no mistake, Google is creating something of its own, mini Internet experience here, without the walled garden approach Facebook has. Google+ results are positively dominating the search experience when SPYW is on.
Of course, users can click the button in the upper right-hand corner of SPYW to hide personal results. With Facebook, what you see is what you and others put there, and it stays like that.
Google felt pushed to do this by Facebook and Twitter, who declined to give it the data it asked for to create a meaningful social search experience. Some people will like or love it. Others will hate it. Google is getting raked over the coals and scrutinized.
What Google won’t do is engage Facebook and Twitter in a he said, she said of what is better for the user, mostly because it’s moot. And here’s why: Google is all in on Google+ and SPYW.
Sarah Lacy over at her new PandoDaily blog (hate the name, love the content), noted that Google CEO Larry Page essentially told employees:
““This is the path we’re headed down – a single unified, ‘beautiful’ product across everything. If you don’t get that, then you should probably work somewhere else.”“
Now I can totally believe that — it’s a very Page-like thing to say. But I also believe several Googlers who do believe Page and his team dashed apart Google’s unbiased search principles on the rocks of competition at all cost will leave the company over this.