Competition and controversy
This week, Google launched Search Plus Your World (SPYW), a set of features to personalize search results for users, which also happen to give Google+ content a lot more play in search results. The whole thing has sparked a great deal of controversy, with people talking about antitrust implications, relevancy issues, etc. Even Twitter called the day it launched “a bad day for the Internet”.
Google Vs. Twitter
The Google vs. Twitter element of this thing has been very interesting to me. In case you haven’t been following, let us recap this public back and forth these two companies have had this week.
And Twitter emailed a statement around to the press, which said:
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.
Google responded to Twitter on Google+ saying:
“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.”
I also found it a bit odd that Twitter would say this now, when really the lack of that aforementioned agreement renewal is what caused Twitter results to be less prevalent in Google search results. Twitter has not returned my request for comment on that at this point, but Macgillivray did tweet an example of where Google is surfacing Google+ over Twitter for the query “@WWE”. I’m not sure this is actually a product of SPYW, though the new features do place a prominent box of recommended Google+ profiles on the right-hand side of the page.
A lot of people view Google’s pushing of Google+ in search results to be anticompetitive. Some disagree.
One point that has been brought up repeatedly is that Google could be recommending public profiles from Twitter and Facebook alongside its Google+ recommendations. Sure, they could.
Facebook and Twitter don’t grant access to Google for all of the stuff that would improve the personalization experience.
Google Fellow Amit Singhal, told Sullivan, “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. Of course, going forward, if others were willing to change, we’d look at designing things to see how it would work.”
Those are basically the same responses.