Why Would Twitter Resist Google’s Search Plus Your World?

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When Google introduced Search Plus Your World, it described the update as an enhancement that would create a more relevant discovery experience for internet users. With the feature in full effect, users logged into Google+ are now receiving personalized results based on their activity on the social network. Despite the internet giant’s claims of innocence, not all were on board with Search Plus Your World, including social media competitor Twitter.

Battle of the Internet Giants

Shortly following the launch of Google’s Search Plus Your World, Twitter released a statement voicing its stance on the matter. In the statement, the San Francisco-based company explained that the enhancement was a raw deal for internet users because it makes information harder to find in the results, due to the fact that the personalized results are positioned above the standard listings. It gets even more interesting when we learn that the information in reference is streamed through none other than Twitter itself.

If you’re hip to the phenomenon that is social media, you probably know that Twitter has become a viable resource for relevant information. The microblogging service is much more than a recreational social tool. It is not uncommon for important news stories to break on Twitter before they do traditional media channels. According to a representative, the company is concerned that by introducing Search Plus Your World, Google has consequently made it more challenging to locate this content in the search results, citing that it will serve as a disadvantage to media firms, publishers and regular people who depend on Twitter for timely information.

To say that Google was unsympathetic to Twitter’s complaint would be a huge understatement. In a statement released through an update on its official Google+ page, the search giant said that it has no idea why Twitter was unhappy, referencing how it was the short messaging service that refused to renew the deal between the companies. The deal in question is one that allowed Google to display real-time updates from Twitter in its search results. So seeing that Facebook has always safeguarded its data, the end of that relationship gave the company all the motivation it needed to promote its own content, and essentially bury the competition in the process.

Little to No Love for Personalized Search

So how do internet users feel about the personalized search concept Google is trying to push with Search Plus Your World? Let’s just say that, according to the research, they’re not thrilled. A new study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that of the roughly 2,000 people questioned, 65% viewed personalized search as a bad thing, while only 29% said it was a good thing. It is also interesting to note that 73% felt that it was an invasion of privacy.

According to Pew’s research, resistance to personalized search appears to be greater with older users. For instance, 70% of users 50 years old or older thought it was a bad idea compared to 67% of users 30 to 49, and 56% of those 18 to 29. The same can be said from a privacy standpoint. Eighty-three percent of users 50 years or older said it was an invasion privacy, which is notably higher than the 69% and 68% of those in the 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 age groups who respectively felt the same way.

An Investigation Begins

While Twitter has certainly been the most vocal, it is not the only competitor to speak out against Google’s Search Plus Your World. Facebook and even MySpace had something to say about the enhancement being bad for users. Apparently federal law enforcement agrees, at least to a degree, because the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into the company for a possible anti-trust violation. It is actually an extension of the FTC’s existing investigation, as the agency is currently looking into Google for unrelated matters.

Google is no stranger to controversy, but Search Plus Your World is turning out to be one of its most controversial updates yet. Although the impact of this feature has been minimal on a broad scale, the search company isn’t backing off and the competition still isn’t happy about it.

About the Author

Francis Santos is based in the LA area and is an up-and-coming writer for Benchmark Email, a major email marketing company. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach and holds a degree in Journalism.

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One Comment

  1. I still think it's funny they thought the acronym SPYW would resonate with users, maybe I'm missing something but it seems like they're searching for (and found) an iceberg. What's the alternative for a general search, DuckDuckGo, Bing? I've started using DDG more, would be nice if they included a dedicated news or blog search.