Google’s “Personal Results” Draw Criticism
This past week, Google rolled out new search features as part of their “Search plus Your World” initiative, and many are unhappy with the changes. The feature presents users with personal results supposedly tailored to their needs and uses, but critics say it is just a ploy to advertise Google+ and other Google-owned products, like YouTube.
According to Google, personal results will include four considerations not found in traditional searches:
- Google products: Search for publicly and privately shared content visible to you, like your Google+ (and Picasa) photos and Google+ posts from your friends.
- Social Search: Discover relevant images and pages shared by people in your Google+ circles and by suggested connections.
- Web History: Get customized results based on your past search activity on Google, such as searches you’ve done or results you’ve clicked. Learn more about Web History
- Profiles in search: When you search for a friend’s name, you might see a link to the relevant Google+ profile in the list of autocomplete predictions. With personal results, you’re more likely to see your friend John’s profile than some John you’ve never met. Learn more about profiles in search
Danny Sullivan, an influential blogger on search engines, outlines how these practices end up emphasizing Google’s proprietary content over stuff that would actually be more relevant.
Aside from ethics or usefulness, Google’s actions raise the very serious possibility that they will face anti-trust investigations for the new search features.
Supposedly, users can disable the features with one click on their Google Search preferences page; but Sullivan argues that the weighted results were still in effect even in Incognito mode on the search engine.
What do you think of Google’s personal results?