New Google Option ‘Search Plus Your World’ Makes Search Personalized [Video]

Google users will now be able to see personalised search results including their friends and apps, thanks to Google’s ‘Your World’ option.

Google yesterday unveiled Search Plus Your World – an initiative, one reporter noted, that marks “one of the biggest changes [Google] has ever made to its search results.”

Broadly speaking, Search Plus Your World makes searches more “social,” which is to say that search results, from here on out, will take into account not just data and factoids, but also relationships between users.

New services will incorporate results from a user’s friends and profile in the social network Google+, as well as people, pages and profiles in a user’s network or adjacent to it, The Telegraph reports.

“Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of webpages, images, videos, news and much more,” Google’s Amit Singhal wrote in a blog post today.

“But clearly, that isn’t enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box.”

He added that “These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box.”

The feature will be automatically turned on for all English-language searches made by users logged into Google. Turning off the personal results permanently will require changing a setting in Google’s personal preferences.

The personal results can also be excluded on a search-by-search basis by clicking on an icon of the globe on the results page (the personal results will be denoted by a button featuring a human’s silhouette).

“Say you’re looking for a vacation destination,” Singhal writes. “You can of course search the web, but what if you want to learn from the experiences your friends have had on their vacations? Just as in real life, your friends’ experiences are often so much more meaningful to you than impersonal content on the web.”

To that end, Google will now recommend posts from friends’ Google+ pages or photos from Google+ and Picasa, says The Christian Science Monitor.

Twitter said it’s worried the added emphasis on Plus in Google’s search results will make it more difficult to find breaking news and other compelling information shared within the 250 million messages, or tweets, posted on its service each day.

“We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users,” Twitter said in a statement. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook and Twitter pose a threat to Google because they don’t allow Google’s search engine to log most of the photos, links and observations cascading through those services.

According to The Huff Post, that’s troublesome to Google because its search engine could become less useful if its system can’t analyze what people are signaling is important to them so those preferences can be factored into the results.

As part of Tuesday’s expansion, the profile pictures of Plus account holders will appear in the drop-down suggestions on Google’s search box. So when typing in “Mary,” you may see those named Mary in your circle along with those Google believes you’d find interesting.

While Google is hoping the addition of more personal results will make its search engine even more useful, the changes also could spook some people as they realize how much information is being compiled about them. Google tried to minimize privacy concerns by recently switching to technology that encrypts all its search results to protect the information from slipping out.

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