Search, Plus Your World, As Long As It’s Our World

Perusing my feeds today, I saw this post from Google’s blog:

Search, plus Your World

In the post, Google extols the virtues of incorporating results such as “your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience. Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search.”


Nah, just kidding. What’s really going on is that Google is fully incorporating Google+ into its index. It’s as if Facebook doesn’t exist.

Now, I’ve been on this one before, and I’m sure others will point it out, or simply roll their eyes and call it a dead issue. Dead because we all know that Google hasn’t made peace with Facebook, and therefore is not crawling Facebook data, nor integrating Facebook results into its core search product in any other way than what’s absolutely necessary (ie those lame public Facebook profile pages). Facebook, in turn, has not made most of what happens inside Facebook available to search engines. It’s a standoff, because neither company really knows how to value the other company’s partnership.

And it sucks for the web. The unwillingness of Facebook and Google to share a public commons when it comes to the intersection of search and social is corrosive to the connective tissue of our shared culture. But as with all things Internet, we’ll just identify the damage and route around it. It’s just too bad we have to do that, and in the long run, it’s bad for Facebook, bad for Google, and bad for all of us. (BTW, Google also doesn’t show Twitter or Flickr results either, or any other “social” service. Just its own, Google+ and Picasa.)

Google addresses this issue in a SEL piece today:  “Facebook and Twitter and other services, basically, their terms of service don’t allow us to crawl them deeply and store things. Google+ is the only [network] that provides such a persistent service,” (said Google exec Amit) Singhal. “Of course, going forward, if others were willing to change, we’d look at designing things to see how it would work.”

Er, something tells me hell will freeze over first. Google’s already failed to get a data deal done with both Twitter and Facebook. I doubt they’ll take another run at it soon, though I wish they would.

Instead, we have the deepening trend of each of the Internet Big Five trying to be All Things to All People, creating a World That If Only You’d Use Exclusively, You’d Never Have To Leave.

Ick. Remember when Google used to be a neutral player that crawled the Whole Dern Web? So sad to see that era pass. It’s not Google’s fault, entirely, but it’s sad nonetheless.

NB: I should add that I am fully aware that the integration of G+, and *only* G+, into Google’s search service is a major win for Google’s fledgling social service. I’d expect a big bump in usage due to this, if the integration is done well (ie, doesn’t irritate users). It’s clearly “tying” in the sense of what Microsoft got slapped for in its DOJ antitrust case in the late 90s, but the context is different – Google doesn’t have a clear monopoly in search, just a pretty darn big one. If Microsoft really wanted to mess with Google, it could shut down Bing. Then Google might have some problems on its hands. Stranger things….

188 thoughts on “Search, Plus Your World, As Long As It’s Our World”

  1. I for one am delighted that Facebook does not share it’s details with Google. The comments I make to friends on Facebook are for my friends to read. FULL STOP. Google is NOT the Internet, although it would love to be. There are other search engines out there. I advise people to look at what else is on offer and don’t be so reliant on Google.

    1. I believe what matters is for all of us to have the choice to instrument what gets indexed, searched, presented, and used for marketing. It’s our data too. And this will come to pass.

  2. Hmm.. can’t see why this is of benefit unless the amount of shared results is limited or kept sperate from standard SERPs, does it not take search away from search? I can imagine in a few years just the same content being hit over and over again unless its viral videos which more often than not just internet entertainment. How well this will work for businesses? what about new businesses..

  3. Why would I want google crawling my facebook data? It’s private information. Would you want them crawling your bank statements? Am I a lamer because google can only crawl what I want to be public?

    1. see my other comment, Joe. Search is bigger than just the public web. Search to me is any question I might ask of any set of information I have rights to query.

  4. I think that Google try to monopolize the Internet in general, so it can “eat” Facebook in some future.. I don’t know if it is good, but its Google+ becomes much stronger..

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