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Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace To Google: Don't Be Evil 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-guys-should-team-up-and-start-a-search-engine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Over the weekend, Blake Ross, Facebook's product director and co-founder of Firefox, worked with Facebook engineers Tom Occhino and Marshall Roch to demonstrate how evil they think Google's newly launched Search plus Your World (SPYW) feature really is, and created a 'proof of concept' showing how it should really work. His team got some help from Twitter engineers and Myspace engineers, and consulted other social networks as well to really make sure the message hits home: SPYW should surface results from all social networks, not just Google+. By leveraging Google's own algorithms, the group built a bookmarklet called 'don't be evil' (a jab at Google's informal motto) and released it on a new website named Focus on the User."
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Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace To Google: Don't Be Evil

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  • The video of the proof of concept looks actually awesome, and much better than how Google is doing it now. It's also much better for the user since it pulls the content from all social networks and other relevant sites. Interestingly, they're using Google's own search engine to do this:

    So, how does it work? If Google’s search engine decides that it’s relevant to surface a Google+ page in response to a query where Google+ content is hardcoded, the tool searches Google for the name of the Google+ page and identifies the social profiles within the first ten pages of Google’s search results (top 100 results). The ones Google ranks highest, regardless of what social network they are from, replace the previous results that would only be from Google+.

    In my opinion this demonstrates perfectly that it's entirely possible for Google. It's just that they don't want to do it - they want more control for themselves and more information about users for advertising and marketing

    • Re:Don't Be Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by leoplan2 (2064520) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:19PM (#38797943)
      It's just that they don't want to do it - they want more control for themselves and more information about users for advertising and marketing

      So tell me, why Facebook data isn't open for everyone? That's control too, isn't it?. And do you remember when twitter said "no" to Google for use Twitter data on Google Social Search?
      You should inform yourself before commenting, please.
      • Re:Don't Be Evil (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dyinobal (1427207) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:40PM (#38798161)
        Ya I was thinking the same thing. I read about some sort of deal between twitter and Google to use tweets in their search results but it fell through. So why is twitter bitching about it now? Google is running a business folks and they've done nothing wrong, by deciding to allow posts from their Google plus into the results.
        • I think the key change here is that, like SPYW, this form of Twitter integration might not be a panopticon of the whole Twitterverse; it would only integrate the "your world" part and you'd have to provide your login credentials to do so. (Anyway, think about that seriously: do you really want your search results clogged up with every Twitter post ever?)
      • by AvitarX (172628)

        I really don't like it (the Google+ Search).

        I searched my name to see what came up, and my private from phone folder was across the top of the page.

        I don't like the personalization of my search in this way, I don't want checking my email to bring up semi-private photos if my name is typed in.

        I want google.com to search the web, not my profile, let me search my profile if that's what I want.

        • Click on the Settings icon -> Search Settings -> Do not use personal results.

          There, that wasn't so hard.

          Personally, I just don't have a G+ account due to the other issues that are in my opinion way worse than personalized search.

        • wait.... YOU searched YOUR name and were surprised that it was public to YOU?

          Search from someone's computer who does not connect with you on line and see what the rest of the world will see before you freak out.

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        You should inform yourself before commenting, please.

        If you do a simple search, you will see Google has never had any trouble indexing public Twitter or Facebook information. Google simply wanted more than just the public information, they wanted the private data thats locked behind those profiles.

        You should inform yourself before commenting.

      • Seriously, is there anybody who can't see though this?

    • Re:Don't Be Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:30PM (#38798039) Journal

      new account, same anti-google? [slashdot.org] Jesus christ you guys multiply like tribbles.

      The reality here is that putting this on google is focusing on a strawman to mislead people to the fact that it is facebook that prevents google from indexing it, not vice versa.

    • by Omestes (471991)

      The video of the proof of concept looks actually awesome, and much better than how Google is doing it now. It's also much better for the user since it pulls the content from all social networks and other relevant sites. Interestingly, they're using Google's own search engine to do this:

      Agreed... but for one thing, I hardly ever find Twitter relevant for anything, but thanks to its nature it will dominate every search. Twitter, thanks to its format, gets generally much higher "follower" counts, but each message has much less content than a Google+ or Facebook post (which isn't saying much), Twitter has a much higher single to noise ratio.

      The best solution would be to return results from services that the user actually uses (and thus cares about). Sadly this would require a fair bit of i

      • by afabbro (33948)

        Twitter has a much higher single to noise ratio.

        That's true - married people don't have time for it.

    • Re:Don't Be Evil (Score:5, Informative)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:30PM (#38798719)

      Oh hai, DCTech. New account for a new story you posted, right? Well, here's a quick summary of why Facebook and MySpace are full of crap, and Twitter is irrelevant:

      * There's the standard complaint that links on top of the search results are an unfair promotion of Google's own data. Well, no shit sherlock. It's their own site, and they can show their own links whereever the hell they want. It's marked as not part of the search results, so I don't see how this could possibly be read as cooking the results. Unless, of course, you're Facebook and are trying to poison the debate.
      * The focusontheuser.org page is also misleading in what it calls "on top of the search results". In the video, they clicked on the G+ link that specifically says "Here are the G+ results for your search", not on the general search results. Then they complain they get taken to the G+ page. I'm confused on how that was a surprise.

      Essentially, what this is is a general bitch session by Facebook that Google shows Google products in the areas that are dedicated to Google products. Really? That's a problem? If Facebook is unhappy about how Google displays Facebook results, I have a suggestion for them: create your own search engine. Make it exactly as platform agnostic as it was shown on the focusontheuser.org site. Then go talk about Google doesn't offer the best possible search engine. In the meantime, this comes across as nothing but a giant astroturfing campaign by Facebook to force Google to show Facebook and Twitter results in an area that Google has set aside for its own products.

      That said, there are some interesting ideas in there on how Google can improve its search:
      * default opt-out for showing my G+ info. I know when to look for it, thanks.
      * In the left sidebar, include a social network section. Filter specifically on known social networks. Have it even be customizable to only show results from a user-defined list of social networks.

      But that's it. There's absolutely no need to have FB and Twitter results show up in the right side-bar, which is explicitly dedicated to Google product results. Not unless you want to essentially force Google to advertise Facebook and Twitter results for free.

    • Re:Don't Be Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CapOblivious2010 (1731402) on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:42PM (#38798841)

      In my opinion this demonstrates perfectly that it's entirely possible for Google. It's just that they don't want to do it

      ...and in other news, McDonalds doesn't want to sell Burger King's hamburgers, despite the fact that it's entirely possible for them to do so. A Burger King spokesman decried this blatant favoritism as "evil".

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      You've got to ask yourself at the end of the day: how much do I really care about this?

      Seriously, who actually uses google to find fb and twitter posts when those sites have their own search?

      This is about $, not ethics, in the sense of fb and twitter and myspace wanting to make more with google's good will this time. Sounds more like a jest / proof of ethics than an actual feature request.

      • by vlueboy (1799360)

        Seriously, who actually uses google to find fb and twitter posts when those sites have their own search?

        The same statistical first-timers who are always one minute away from *joining* said sites? There's millions registering all the time just to connect with those they've not talked with since highschool. For FB, they have no access to the posts unless they too join the club. ~90% of the world's 7,000,000,000 people are still *outside* of facebook's 700 million "active account-holders." Just because WE know the web inside down does not mean that most others discovered social media already.

        The same people who

        • by Synerg1y (2169962)

          Great, so i think it's more than fair to say, if you don't have a fb account, don't use fb? Surely money is not the issue here when it comes to fb accounts lol. Not sure what your expecting from them lol. There's an old phrase that comes to mind though: want much, get little.

    • No, the video shows these people have no idea what SPYW is all about.

      Google is not searching for the most relevant results. It is searching for the most relevant results, plus your world. If your world includes Jamie Oliver's FaceBook page, that will come back in the "your world" results, not search results.

      And, Google doesn't have links to *your* facebook, myspace, etc. Just the public information. So that's not your world, it's just a social search. They say this is how the algorithm works. Take the

      • by coolmadsi (823103)

        No, the video shows these people have no idea what SPYW is all about.

        This is what I was thinking.

        I did a very quick test (so take with a grain of salt): I checked my Google+ stream for something recent that I could search for (I saw a news story posted about a compary called "Delta"). I then did a search for that term ("delta" in this case), and there was the option to see the personalised results - this included the news item that I had seen, so something very relevant (as it was part of my "world" as Google says). I used the bookmarklet to see what the "don't be evil" had

  • Ironic.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WarwickRyan (780794) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:18PM (#38797921)

    ..considering reports the Google's entire motivation for creating Google+ was that so much content was moving to social networks such as Facebook and that said social networks were pushing against Google's attempts to index the content on their services.

    • It's not ironic. It's a direct response to Google's claims:

      The team’s goal is to show Google is lying because the search giant already indexes all public information on social networks, and there’s no reason why it can’t use that data as well.

      Personally, I do not know who's telling the truth, and I can't say I like Facebook very much, but I'm hoping that more people actually read the article before rehashing Google's claims (which the article is already responding to).

  • Seriously, they've been doing the exact same move with Facebook posts and the Like buttons with Bing for, what, two years now?
  • by Shoten (260439) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:19PM (#38797939)

    Facebook? Facebook is telling Google not to be evil? FACEBOOK? If Google were half as self-serving with privacy policies and use of data as Facebook has been....actually, it would be so awful I don't even know how to put it into words.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      not just facebook, supposedly myspace which was owned by murdoch, who clearly is not an evil fellow, right?

      ahhh, the comedy. It's another "accuse someone else of what you're doing so that they don't focus on you at all". aka the political/microsoft way to do things.

    • by Knave75 (894961) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:33PM (#38798061)

      Facebook? Facebook is telling Google not to be evil? FACEBOOK?

      That was my initial reaction. If it were Mozilla or Wikipedia telling Google to be less evil, that would be one thing. But Facebook, one of the more evil companies on the planet, beseeching Google not to be evil?

      This is why I could never work in the corporate world. I understand that spewing this type of bullshit is par for the course, but I would have never been able to stomach it.

      • Ditto and if someone is in a position to complain it would be Mozilla since integrated search should be a browser feature, not a website feature, and they aren't complaining, because it's stupid.

        Blubbled search [dontbubble.us] is not even a feature I want, much less expand.

      • That was my initial reaction. If it were Mozilla or Wikipedia telling Google to be less evil, that would be one thing. But Facebook, one of the more evil companies on the planet, beseeching Google not to be evil?

        Considering Mozilla takes money from Google, I wouldn't be inclined to trust their opinion (or lack of) either.

    • by grcumb (781340) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:35PM (#38798095) Homepage Journal

      Facebook? Facebook is telling Google not to be evil? FACEBOOK?

      I dunno, the story lost all credibility for me when I read the phrase 'MySpace engineers'....

    • by Wiarumas (919682)
      Its more along the lines of them being upset about monopolizing evil rather than a holier than thou stance.
  • mirror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nnet (20306) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:22PM (#38797985) Homepage Journal
    Pot, kettle, Kettle, pot.
    • Pot, kettle, Kettle, pot.

      More like: Pot, Kettle, Cauldron; meet Stainless Steel Soup Pot. Stainless Steel Soup Pot, meet Pot, Kettle, and Cauldron.

      Well, yeah - that Stainless Steel Soup Pot may be well used and have a bit of black on it too; but nothing like the Pot, Kettle, and Cauldron which were black even when brand new.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Facebook criticizing ANYONE regarding privacy? That's not just ironic, it's downright hypocritical.

    Really all four of those companies are equally evil little shits. Fuck 'em all.

  • Leave search alone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:28PM (#38798029)

    Am I the only one who wants to search for the words I type in and nothing else. Google is already giving some kind of preference for the results in my area whether I want it or not, and now apparently it is going to pollute them with more random junk. When I searched for a solution to a particular known problem with my car, it mixed in a bunch of completely irrelevant results just because they are to do with cars in my city. I guess no software company is immune to suicide by features phenomenon.

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:51PM (#38798281)

      and now apparently it is going to pollute them with more random junk

      No, not unless you click the little "My World" tab at the top of your search, like you do to access Google Image Search, or Video Search.

    • by Elbereth (58257) <krachtm@yahoo.com> on Monday January 23, 2012 @07:00PM (#38798363) Homepage Journal

      This is one of the reasons why people switched away from Altavista to Google. Granted, it's not the main reason, but it's one of the reasons.

      I hate how over-helpful Google is. It seems like there's no way to do a simple search any more. It tries to correct my spelling, searches for what it thinks I meant, and mixes in results that don't even have my search terms in them! It's frustrating as hell. I'd switch to something else, but there really isn't anything that's any better.

      It's gotten to the point that I put everything in quotes, with a plus sign, no matter what I search for. Otherwise, I end up getting completely irrelevant results. There needs to be an option in the advanced search options that says, "[x] I'm not an idiot".

      • by icebraining (1313345) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:09PM (#38799107) Homepage

        There needs to be an option in the advanced search options that says, "[x] I'm not an idiot".

        There is. Left bar -> More Search tools -> Verbatim

        "With the Verbatim tool, you can search using the exact keywords you typed," explains Google. Verbatim disables Google's spelling corrections and Google no longer replaces some of your keywords with synonyms (e.g.: television / TV), similar terms (e.g: buy flowers / send flowers), words with the same stem (e.g.: fixing / fix). Verbatim also disables search personalization.

        I submitted this as a story a month ago or so, but it wasn't accepted by the /. editors.

        • On the surface that seems like a good tip, but ultimately it's useless. I'm not trying to take a jab at your helpfulness here, but I'm not going to go through a menu and select "verbatim" every time I do a search that should be "verbatim" to begin with. Even if they had an account preference I still wouldn't trust it. I tried turning off the instant search "feature" numerous times and the setting would get reset to default every couple weeks. That was the last straw that made me ditch google entirely. I sta
    • by Zadaz (950521)

      Well, yeah. Of course, we all "just want the words we search"

      But this isn't 1996, the web has trillions of pages of content. If you search for The Police do you want the local constable or the band of the same name? What about Anthrax? Do you want the band or the infectious disease? If you want the disease, do you want a Wikipedia-level reference, or the CDC, or do you want to know about recent news involving it? Or do you want to know conspiracy theories, or how to weaponize it?

      Oh, and how would you like

    • by MochaMan (30021)

      Easy fix. Upper-right corner of the search results: click "hide personal results" (the globe icon). If you want to get rid of them permanently: settings drop-down, "Do not use personal results" radio button.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      No, but you are the only person who doesn't bother to learn the tool they are using before complaining.

      Haha, I joke, many people are whiny bitches that don't bother to figure out the tool before complaining.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:34PM (#38798071)

    1) Their definition of "don't be evil" seems to be "please don't compete with us directly".

    2) Facebook has already created the largest walled garden on the Internet by a couple orders of magnitude - maybe before trying to "fix" other companies' software *they* should start looking at ways to include other social networks and web sites without requiring a post/link into Facebook's database and a sneaky redirect...

    3) Wait, Myspace has engineers?!?

    • by ChronoFish (948067) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:43PM (#38798187) Journal
      I wish I had mod points.... You've hit it right.

      It's not so much "focus on the *user*" as much as "focus on OUR *users*".

      Their example is accurate, and I agree that it would be great to can-open Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.... So.... is Facebook asking Google to actually do this? Because last I checked they were still trying to find ways to prevent FB data from crossing over to Google+.

      -CF
    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Google tried in the past to allow tweets and Facebook content searchable by their engine - Facebook wouldn't allow it, the Twitter deal fell through too.

      Facebook has tried their hardest to set up a walled garden, and it just bit them in the ass. boo-hoo.

    • 1) Their definition of "don't be evil" seems to be "please don't compete with us directly".

      That's not quite it: it is "please do more (at no cost to us) to promote our services that compete with yours directly."

  • Perhaps facebook could open up their APIs so that other social networks would have a fighting chance of getting into existence, and we'd actually see some competition.

    And perhaps twitter could do the same, so that we can choose whichever company we want as a tweet-service. Imagine that e-mail was handled by one company, quite a ridiculous situation!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:36PM (#38798113)

    Twitter to Google: "You can't search or index our content. You need to pay us millions of dollars to get a feed of our data"

    Twitter to Media: "Google isn't searching and index our content! They're being evil!"

    Give me a break. Twitter and Facebook put up walled gardens and prevented Google from crawling them, forcing Google to make their own social network and now that it's a threat, they pay PR firms to smear Google in the media and complain that they're not being included in new Google features. You want to be included? Set robots.txt to allow the googlebot to crawl your site.

    • by hhawk (26580)

      Exactly... Twitter can't have it both ways but are clearly trying..

    • by esocid (946821)
      You're spot on. I can't even fathom how ridiculously idiot this whole debate is. Facebook and Twitter don't want Google to index them? Fine. They don't get to complain about a decision that they, themselves, made.
  • Well, maybe Facebook should swallow a heaping teaspoon of its own advice. After all, they were being evil about user privacy. Even Mark Zuckerberg deluded himself into believing that users don't care about privacy.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      Well, maybe Facebook should swallow a heaping teaspoon of its own advice. After all, they were being evil about user privacy. Even Mark Zuckerberg deluded himself into believing that users don't care about privacy.

      Deluded?

      Most users dont care about privacy. They'll happily trade privacy for recognition. Why the hell do you think so many people try out for reality TV.

  • LOL (Score:5, Funny)

    by msauve (701917) on Monday January 23, 2012 @06:45PM (#38798205)
    Facebook telling someone how not to be evil? /. needs a comedy section. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha
  • Is Facebook fine with Google scraping data from their network? If Google did that without asking, wouldn't that make Google evil?

    If Facebook is voluntarily offering up said data, then certainly Google should use it.

    • Is Facebook fine with Google scraping data from their network? If Google did that without asking, wouldn't that make Google evil?

      If Facebook is voluntarily offering up said data, then certainly Google should use it.

      Facebook (and Twitter, et al.) seem to be saying this: "We are going to do everything we can to stop you from getting our data, unless you pay us vast amounts of money to get access to it; but, if you do manage to index any of our data, we demand that you use it as much as possible to promote our

  • SPYW should surface results from all social networks, not just Google+.

    As long as you can turn this off - first time I googled myself after SPYW was introduced I nearly s#@! a brick thinking all those Picasa pictures got somehow indexed for everyone to see.

  • It would be fitting if the majority of users who were directed to the myface site concluded that they actually liked, or wanted to use google's features now that someone let them know they were there...

  • Maybe I'm behind, but didn't Google stop crawling FB / Twitter / etc data after their deals went south.

    If they had, then the social data would be stale.

    And who wants stale social data?

  • They're describing exactly the sort of results that http://duckduckgo.com/ [duckduckgo.com] gives; try the equivalent search for "john battelle" [duckduckgo.com], for example: it lists a whole slew of social-networking pages for him in the `social networking bar'. Right after his Wikipedia page and his official website.

  • By evil...do they mean - don't steal personal information and use it to make profits, and don't change security processes without letting the users choose, and don't force users to opt-out of privacy feature "enhancements" in the effort to protect their personal information, and certainly don't call things "privacy enhancements" when the enhancement is actually a way to make more profits from other people's private information. If memory serves me...when I signed up to Google+, I was asked up front and dir
  • Charles Manson sent out a heart-felt message to school bullies telling them to be nicer to the other kids.

  • Stop being isolated islands. Google could use your data, but you won't supply it on an open, federated basis. So what should Google do about that?

  • Companies about to become irrelevant think replacement is evil.

    What a joke.

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