Google favours friends in new social search

Google unveils a tool to personalise search results depending on contacts

Stewart Mitchell
17 Feb 2011

Google's search results will pull in more personalised content and tailor search results according to what your contacts like, following changes to its Social Search tool.

The tool provides “information from the people that matter to you, whether they’re publishing on YouTube, Flickr or their own blog or website”.

Google said social results would now be presented within the standard search page, ranked upon their relevance, rather than being a tag-on as in the past.

“You’ll start seeing more from people like co-workers and friends, with annotations below the results they’ve shared or created,” the company said on its official blog.

“If you’re thinking about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture.”

The amount of interest your friends have shown in certain subjects could also see that content boosted up the rankings, so if a colleague had tweeted a link to a video about Arsenal’s Barcelona victory, the footage would be bumped up the rankings following a search for Champions League.

The company was at pains to highlight privacy tools, after the costly legal fiasco following the launch of Buzz, when Google had to pay $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit over the way it implemented the social tool in Gmail.

“We’ve given you more control over how you connect accounts, and made connecting accounts more convenient,” Google said.

“You can still connect accounts publicly on your Google profile, but now we’ve added a new option to connect accounts privately in your Google Account."

The service would only be active when users had signed in to their Google accounts, the company said, adding that it would be rolled out over the next week.

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