Focus on the User versus Google Search, Plus Your World
Some engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have developed a bookmarklet (some code operating in a web browser that facilitates temporarily added functionality) called “Don’t Be Evil” available at the website Focus on the User . The intention of this bookmarklet is to search for and display more relevant results than those appearing through Google Plus and Google Search (aka “Search, plus Your World”) for Google Plus users (who have chosen to personalize their search results after logging in), including results from Facebook and Twitter. Focus on the User will check the “people and pages” results box, the “organic” results after searching for an individual or an organization, and the search box where Google attempts to anticipate (or autocomplete) your request, and then re-do the Google search as an impersonal search based on relevance. Focus on the User makes the point that the information in the demonstration comes from Google itself and that the ranking decisions of search results are determined by Google’s algorithms.
The American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has included the combination of Google Plus and Google Search to its terms of reference in investigating whether Google has violated anti-trust laws. Companies based in the European Union have filed 10 complaints which are being investigated by the European Commission on the basis of competition-busting.
Google also has its defenders who have argued that it is logical and natural for Google to focus on their own users and for Google Plus users to expect Google Plus-oriented search results. In fairness, Google Plus users can choose to opt out of “Search, plus Your World” as explained by Amit Singhal on the Official Google Blog. Nonetheless, some commentators have found that search results for “People and Pages on Google Plus” can still show up in search results for non-Google Plus users and for those Google Plus users who have logged out of their accounts.
Users wishing to download the bookmarklet to the toolbar (that works in either of the Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers) should click on the “Try a More Relevant Google” button on the Focus on the User website and follow the three step process. The creators of the bookmarklet have chosen to open source the code so that anyone may use it or improve upon it for free.
Comments are welcome from all including Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter users.