As a Brisbane Web Designer, it has been interesting following the reaction to Google’s announcement earlier this week. Google’s new ‘Search Plus Your World’ search function is said to integrate ‘Your World’ into your search results, however many critics, such as the particularly vocal Twitter, say a more apt description would be ‘Search Plus Your Google+ World’. And fair enough, the company is only integrating search results pulled from its social media network Google+ and not Facebook, Twitter, Imgur or any other personalised platform users may use.
The new search system is live as of yesterday however the roll out will take a number of days. The ‘Search Plus Your World’ may make life easier for some users, as a Brisbane web designer It may help when searching for a colleague for instance, rather than having to search Google as well as my Google+ account, the search is integrated in one. However the new system has raised a number of privacy concerns, such as making private content more visible to friends and family than what was originally intended.
It has been reported this morning that independent U.S. consumer watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) will most likely make a complaint to U.S. Federal Trade Comission stating that Google’s new search system raises many privacy and anti-trust concerns. EPIC made the complaint that resulted in Google’s settlement with the FTC that requires the Internet search giant to submit to external audits of their privacy practices every other year.
Google has also come under fire from others in the web design and tech industry denouncing the move as ‘warping results’ to crowd out Google+ competitors. Social media company Twitter has been particularity vocal, the company’s General Counsel Alex Macgillivray, who was a top attorney at Google prior to making the jump to Twitter, called it “A bad day for the Internet”. It has also issued a public statement regarding the move:
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 we’ve 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 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.
It is important to note that Twitter and Google have been in a deal whereby Tweets would appear as part of Google’s real-time results. These would sometimes appear baked into the results page for a timely query on Google, about, say, breaking news or a sporting event, and were also accessible by going to a dedicated real-time search section. That partnership terminated in July 2011, and was not renewed.
Later that day Brisbane web designers watched as Google issued a response to Twitter’s statement on its official Google+ page:
We are a bit surprised by Twitter’s comments about Search plus Your World, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer (http://goo.gl/chKwi), and since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions.