Social Search goes global

Thursday, May 19, 2011 | 1:00 AM

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

In 2009 we first introduced Social Search on as an experimental feature designed to help you find more relevant information from your friends and the people you care about. Since then we’ve been making steady improvements to connect you with more people and more relevant web results. Today, we’re bringing Social Search to more users around the globe.

Just like on, social search results in other languages and on other domains are mixed throughout the Google results page based on their relevance. For example, if you’re looking for information about low-light photography and your friend Marcin has written a blog post about it, that post may show up higher in your results with a clear annotation and picture of Marcin:

Social search results can rank anywhere on the page, and you’ll see who shared the result in the annotation underneath.

Social Search can help you find pages your friends have created, and it can also help you find links your contacts have shared on Twitter and other sites. If someone you’re connected to has publicly shared a link, we may show that link in your results with a clear annotation. So, if you’re looking for information about modern cooking and your colleague Adam shared a link about Modernist Cuisine, you’ll see an annotation and picture of Adam under the result. That way when you see Adam in the office, you’ll know he might be a good person to ask about his favorite modern cooking techniques.

Social Search includes links people share on Twitter and other services.

So how does this all work? Social search results are only visible to you and only appear when you choose to log in to your Google Account. If you’re signed in, Google makes a best guess about whose public content you may want to see in your results, including people from your Google chat buddy list, your Google Contacts, the people you're following in Google Reader and Buzz, and the networks you’ve linked from your Google profile or Google Account. For public networks like Twitter, Google finds your friends and sees who they’re publicly connected to as well. You can see a complete list of the people included in your social search results in your personal Google Dashboard (this display is private). For an overview of Google Social Search, check out the explanatory video:

Click “cc” to see captions in your language.

Social Search is rolling out globally in 19 languages and should be available in the coming week, with more languages on the way. People around the world will find similar types of social results as people in the U.S., and we plan to introduce the +1 feature as soon as we can. With these changes, we want to help you find the most relevant information from the people who matter to you. To learn more about Social Search, check out our help center.


Family Friend Poems said...

How do I remove someone from my social search? I'm following them on Twitter but I don't want their website bumped up in my search results.

I would actually like to just opt out from Social Search, how do I do that?


Karen said...

The thing I have always loved about Google is that when I searched for information it gave me all the best results across the cyberverse (well, the English-language cyberverse, anyway). If somebody in India wrote something really good about a subject I'm interested in, it had just as good a chance of appearing in my search results as a blog by some guy around the corner. And I could find cool things that neither I nor my friends and acquaintances knew about. I've always assumed that if a friend found a website or article that might interest me, they'd send me a link (as I would for them). Or if I was looking for something I could ask around and find out if anyone knew of a source that didn't place high on Google search. Google is for finding the stuff my friends don't know.

So all this social and location-based search is exactly the OPPOSITE of what I want in an Internet search. I can "fix" the social search problem by signing out of my Gmail/Google account before I search. But how do I get rid of the localized stuff?

I want my original Google searches back!!!

Fran Jurga said...

Sorry but I really don't want people to see what I am sharing and reading and I don't really want to know what others are doing. I do not want to be influenced. Can you turn it off? I think this is intrusive and a violation of my privacy.

andreas said...

I'm curious. Have you considered or otherwise looked into the possible problems this feature could bring about? I'm thinking about confirmation bias and/or motivated reasoning?

Few people, I think, will notice the rather subtle differences between a standard search result and a social search result—seeing that they are mixed together with but minor differentiation (e.g., name and very small picture (if available) of the source).

My point is this: for results such as where to go to dinner and where to find good deals on curtains (or what have you), this feature is great. But when it comes to issues such as politics and medical advice, it's not. Such issues does not necessarily benefit from social proximity. Such issue benefit from truth, accuracy, and expertise.

I think we are all aware that we, and social animals, tend to surround ourselves with people that think and act like we do (actually, Social Search more or less depends on that fact). So, when it comes to factual information—as distinct from opinions—it follows that information from an "expert" source will be more valuable to me than information from my friends.

Numerous scientific studies have documented the behaviour of people faced with information that contradict one or more of their beliefs. The outcome is, more often than not, sobering. Confirmation bias kicks in; often reinforcing the held belief—even in situations where the information proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt—that this held belief is wrong.

(Look into the Argumentative Theory of Reasoning for a full picture.)

My own concern would be that Google Social Search caters too much to this shortcoming of the human psyche. Now, with Social Search, it's easier than ever for me to turn a blind eye to things rubs me the wrong way—regardless of whether those things would be of factual benefit to me or not.

And so I'm curious. Has this been a consideration?

Josef Vega said...

Which languages will it be released in?

Agam Panwar said...

With social search on WEB, I am expecting great findings when I Google. This is obvious that my pals would suggest me the best they have seen :)