When there is controversy in the internet community, Google is usually somewhere around. The Mountain View, California company found itself dead smack in the middle of the drama when launching Search Plus Your World back in January. Despite its claims of innocence, Google has apparently rubbed a lot of the parties the wrong way with the introduction of this new search feature, including social media giant Facebook.
As you may know, Search Plus Your World is an enhancement that delivers search results based on the user’s activity on the social network Google+. On the surface, it may seem like no big deal, but try telling that to Google’s competitors in the social media space.
Enter the Verbal Slugfest
Twitter was the first to speak up about the matter. An exec from the company complained that Google’s Search Plus Your World is bad for the internet because it pushes results from Twitter further down the page. At one time, these companies were partners in the search game as per their agreement: Google paid Twitter to include data from the microblogging service in its real-time search results. Unfortunately for Twitter, the two sides were unable to come to terms at the negotiation table and the deal wasn’t renewed, though Google claims that the tweet people can renew the contract whenever they’re ready.
So where does Facebook stand on all this? Well, no one from Mark Zuckerberg’s camp crew has had anything to say about the matter – at least not directly. Pedram Keyani, Engineering Manager of the social network’s integrity team, said that Google’s recent update was a big change of direction for the company, and hinted that the move could have been made out of competitive fear. Paul Adams, former Google employee who developed the Circles concept for Google+, said that he is disappointed in the direction his former employer is heading. He also mentioned that Bing is now his default search engine.
The Battle for User Data
Neither Keyani nor Adams referenced Search Plus Your World by name, but the writing is clearly on the wall. Aside from their comments, Facebook hasn’t had much input on the issue, and its silence could speak volumes about the source of the real tension between these two internet powerhouses: Data.
Right now, Facebook is largely considered to be the most serious threat to Google’s dominance. The search giant would probably like to have access to Twitter’s real-time updates, but would be absolutely thrilled to get its hands on the data shared by Facebook and its more than 800 million users. But right now, that information is off limits due to a virtual wall that keeps third parties out. Experts believe that Facebook is creating its own private internet of sorts – one that not even Google can tap into. The consensus is that if others follow suit, internet users will be far less dependent on Google, which would undoubtedly hurt its existing business model.
Will Facebook and Google ever be able to play nice? Sounds farfetched now, but it could happen. After all, Facebook does currently have a partnership with Microsoft, which has the luxury to grab data from the social network when users conduct searches through Bing. You would think the company would benefit more by partnering with the king of the search game, but it is obvious that Facebook and Google view each other as equal threats to one another’s existence.
The introduction of Search Plus Your World has Google facing backlash from its peers, and anti-trust allegations from authorities. And while things may eventually work out, the company’s firm stance shows just how far it is willing to go to win the battle for internet supremacy.