4 Google Social Search Tips for Control and Privacy

Google's controversial search update brings content from Google+ to the forefront of your search results. Here's what you need to know about what you can control, and how to personalize the new features.

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Thu, January 12, 2012

CIO — Google sparked controversy on Tuesday with the announcement of a major search update that includes content from its budding social network, the announcement posted on Google's blog, Google Fellow Amit Singhal says, "Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you've never met. Today, we're changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search."


The new search capability, which Google calls "Search plus Your World," will introduce three new features that put its social component—and information from your network—front and center. They include the following:

-Personal Results. This will feature information from your Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you—that only you will be able to see on your results page when logged into your Google account.

-Profiles in Search. You'll see this both in autocomplete and results, which will display people you're close to or might be interested in following.

When you search for a friend's name—or just the first few letters of it—Google will display a personalized profile prediction in autocomplete. Selecting that friend will take you his or her results page, which will include information from the Google+ profile and Web results that might be related to them.

-People and Pages. Google says this feature will help you find people's profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with a few clicks.

For example, if you search for a topic such as sports, you might see people who discuss this topic frequently on Google+. You can then connect with them on Google+.

[10 Google+ Tips for Beginners]

Experts are already raising antitrust concerns because with these changes, information from Google+ can appear higher in search results than information from other websites.

Here are four things you need to know about Google's new social search, including privacy options and how you can personalize it.

1. No one can see your private content.

Google's new "Personal Results" feature lets you search all your own content, as well as content shared with you by your friends. Results can include webpages, Google+ posts and photos—both uploaded to Google+ or Picasa—but they're visible only to you, unless you've shared them.

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