Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Google Social Networks Twitter Technology

Twitter Comes Out Swinging Against Google's Personalized Search 186

Meshach writes "Google's release of the new 'Search Plus Your World' feature has elicited harsh words from Twitter's general counsel (who used to work with Google). He claims that the changes will make information harder to find for users and be bad news for news publishers. Some analysts are wondering if this is a prelude to a legal battle similar to Microsoft's bundling of IE."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Twitter Comes Out Swinging Against Google's Personalized Search

Comments Filter:
  • I've never wanted to use Twitter.
    • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:05AM (#38660670) Journal

      What has Google's offer of "'Search Plus Your World" got to do with Microsoft's bundling of IE ?

      Can someone educate me, please ??

      • by crutchy ( 1949900 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @04:23AM (#38661146)
        bundling of personalized search into a conventional search engine could be construed as anti-competitive in the personalized search market.

        twitter and facebook would probably consider themselves players in the personalized search market, so the assumption is that they may challenge google for monopolizing personal search that users might otherwise currently use twitter and facebook for.

        i don't see the point in telling people how many bits of toast i'm making for breakfast on twatter, facecrap is a crock of shit for obvious reasons, and spoogel results are getting less relevant with each passing day. i can only hope they all implode into each other in an epic court battle.
        • There is a difference between integration and bundling. Bundling is combining the acquisition of one product with another. Google don't spring a Google+ account on you when you do a search. Using Google+ doesn't push using Google for web searches on you. A user has to opt to use either and the integration between the two in question here only happens if the user further opts for it.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        It has nothing really to do with it, and twitter is upset because Google is giving users a choice that may exclude twitter, and Google wont' pay twitter for access to their information. So twitter will need to survive completely in their own space; which scares them.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @01:27AM (#38660498)

    From the linked article:

    I'm not saying that the Justice Department should look into this. I' m just saying that I think they will. I' m far from an expert on this, but I think anyone should be able to see how this is a very slippery slope for Google.

    Where exactly is the [potential] problem? I hope someone can elucidate.

    • by bs0d3 ( 2439278 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @01:31AM (#38660518)
      twitter sells the right to mine their data, google stopped paying so twitter locked them out. twitter still does business with bing, bing also has a deal with facebook. google is allowing themselves to their own data and also bing sucks
      • by physburn ( 1095481 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @04:52AM (#38661242) Homepage Journal
        "twitter sells the right to mine their data". And good luck to that, mine 140 character all this codes that change and TLAs three letter aconyms, can I now data mine 1/f noise and white noise. Don't want google sell mining rights on my searches though. And I want friends and my web search history, very well seperated.
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @01:38AM (#38660554)

      I don't think it is possible to elucidate. Had to read the article because I was so confused.


      Often, they want to know more about world events and breaking news. Twitter has emerged as a vital source of this real-time information, with more than 100 million users sending 250 million Tweets every day on virtually every topic. As we've seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results.


      We are a bit surprised by Twitter's comments about Search plus Your World, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer (, and since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions.


      The new Google service, which is rolling out today, lets search users toggle between personalized and "global" results, with the former including information gleaned from its Google+ social network and its Picasa image-storage service. Twitter reasonably enough sees that move as a threat, since it could well encourage people to share breaking news on Google+ rather than Twitter.

      Ummmm. Huh?

      So.... Google is rolling out a service that you have to opt in for that will personalize search results according to data they collected on you.

      Twitter has already told Google not to index its tweets apparently. Twitter feels that news comes from them first somehow. I can see that being the case in some tumultuous countries, but as a generality? Come on. That's pushing it. Relevant? Really? What about the signal to noise ratio? Verification?

      News publishers might be affected by personalization, but only in so far as their articles that get included would have to match the user profile. Anything else just gets weighted down in the rankings.

      Saying the Justice Department should look into this sounds like Whiny Bitch syndrome coupled with some form of cognitive dissonance.

      If Google is guilty of anything with the personalized search results, which would be less guilty in my mind, they should already be guilty just by doing what they are doing now without personalized results. Their own algorithms should make them guilty by that logic.

      Sounds like Twitter feels intimidated by Google+ and is talking out of its ass.

      • by MikeURL ( 890801 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:04AM (#38660662) Journal

        Twitter is trying to play its "look how we facilitate things like the Arab Spring" card. So they are not-so-subtly suggesting that fragmenting the world of short form text messages would destroy freedom. After all, how can the twitterverse stand as a bulwark against a totalitarian state when google+ is breaking news too?

        I imagine their ultimate fear is that the next step is text message aggregators and the loss of their "brand".

        All of it makes me want to send them an email suggesting they get off my lawn.

        • by Luthair ( 847766 )

          The irony of course being they had nothing to do with Arab Spring, when net access was actually available in the countries under revolt Facebook was the site of choice.

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:09AM (#38660682)

        It's actually pretty irrelevant anyway - Twitter has never had a business model. They just have no clue how to make money.

        The only reason they are bitching is that they are worried investors will figure this out before they IPO and the employees cash out before they go down the drain...

        • It's actually pretty irrelevant anyway - Twitter has never had a business model. They just have no clue how to make money.

          The only reason they are bitching is that they are worried investors will figure this out before they IPO and the employees cash out before they go down the drain...

          Google used to give them money to access their data. Microsoft give them money $30 million a year for their data now. Thats not chump change.

          • by Monoman ( 8745 )


            Google used to give them money to access their data. Microsoft give them money $30 million a year for their data now. Thats not chump change.

            It is if it costs them more than that to operate. Maybe they are starting to worry about their balance sheet as they get closer to an IPO. They may be able to get funding through VC when operating at a loss but it isn't as easy when you are looking to the stock market for investors.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Lillebo ( 1561251 )
        You have lots of 1s in your ID number.
      • by lennier1 ( 264730 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @03:07AM (#38660872)

        and since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions.

        That's the part I don't quite get. Google respects their nofollow instructions and that's supposed to make them the bad guys???

        Seems more like they're bitching because they no longer receive money from Google on top of them sending visitors their way

    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      More to the point: What the hell is "Personalized Search"?

      I've used search engines for years, I know how to wield a keyword group. What more would you want it to do?

      Sounds suspiciously like marketing-department speak to me: invented buzzwords and phrases devoid of actual meaning.

      • If you have a Google Plus account, Google Search will show you results from your friends' feeds, pictures, etc on top of the normal search.

    • The issue here is that they added results from Google+ into general search and that is it. Because, unless that guy lived under a rock, Google does personalization of searches for a very long time. And come back when they force you to use it... (Because the "forced use" is the keyword there)
    • The problem is that one big company might be affected by what another big company is doing. Can't you see how serious that is for us, the ones who can do nothing about it?
  • I'm a boiled frog (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    These stories made me realise just how crappy google has become; the poor quality search results and unresponsive Javascript interface.

    In the market for a new search engine.

    • Sadly, I am working on it.

      I am half tempted to call it "Google Classic," so I can make believe that they gave their users a choice.

      See, it probably won't be an improvement over the older Google (the one we remember from years ago). It'll just be a restoration of original level of service.

      Well, for the first incarnation, at least.

      • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:59AM (#38660832)

        That be Google Classic Beta.:)

      • I am half tempted to call it "Google Classic,"

        And ye shall be smitten with a mighty trademark lawsuit.

        In any case, what will you use for the index? It takes a damn server farm nowadays to crawl effectively, particularly if you want any kind of decent refresh rate.

        • "Googol Classic. Now with better spelling."
        • We will drive under that bridge when we come to it, as Ted Kennedy might say.

          For the first 30,000 websites (I'm going to maintain a white-list), I plan to index the more important columns in the database. After that point, assuming I still find the project worthwhile, I'll devise something new that won't run afoul of any Google patents. Again, this project falls under a personal project that will make my life easier, not my day job. Why? Because Google's search results, as of late, are so disastrous for the

          • Have you thought about using a DHT network to cache the data like Yacy does, but coupled with digital signatures to make sure people don't tamper with it? You'd still have control over the results without having to run as many servers, just the crawlers. And if your funds run out, people would still be able to get the results, just not new pages into the index.

    • by Monoman ( 8745 )

      Good luck with that. I still get better results with Google than with Bing when searching Complain all you want but I still find Google to have the best results. Try using google while not logged into their services and see if their current level of personalization is causing your issues. Running your browser in 'private' may even be the best test.

  • by unrtst ( 777550 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @01:36AM (#38660544)

    I'm all for the big brother fear posts about Google getting evil, but this isn't the time. Twitter ended their agreement with Google for a real time feed; other realtime/news sites have been threatening blocking Google; then they get upset when Google says fuck it, introduces their own service, and integrates it.

    What's next? NYT blocks Google indexers and then complains when they don't show up in the top of the search results?

    The social sites have had users data locked up long enough. It's due time they provide API's to users, aggregators, and others. Google seems to want to include as much of this other stuff as it can in its search results... they're not the bottleneck, nor the slippery slope here.

    • To use the service, people have to OPT IN --- which means, they have to




      before they are allowed to use the service.

      All Google does - and I am not employed by Google or any of its associates - in this case, is to offer a service.

      To say that Google is "evil" in this case is like saying the late Mother Teresa did what she did for the sake of publicity.

      • by 0ld_d0g ( 923931 )

        Well google instant used to be opt-in too, now its on by default... You need to remain signed in with an opt-out setting enabled to keep it turned off permanently.

        • That's why I use a text browser for google searches (via surfraw []). The damn google javascript nonsense always fucks up trying to search for jjjjjjj and kkkkkkkkkk as soon as I start scrolling...
          • If you don't want Javascript, why don't you block it []?

            • I only use firefox for a few sites which don't work without javascript, so I don't have an extensive set of customizations for specific sites. Only adblock, ghostery, and firemacs. I notice the google jjjjj/kkkkk behaviour when I happen to be using the graphical browser and want to quickly search for something in a different tab.

              I actually prefer to use w3m as my browser, because it launches an instance of Emacs for comment boxes. I find the graphical UI text boxes in Gnome/KDE/firefox/etc way too limited

              • Firefox with Pentadactyl can use any text editor you want by simply pressing Ctrl+I. Then saving and closing the editor automatically puts the text back in the box.

                There's also It'sAllText, for people who don't want Pentadactyl.

        • Just cookie-block and noscript the shit out of google, that's what I do.
          The only problem that has caused for me was to make it hard turn off safe-search until I found out you could add &safe=off to the end of any google search URL to turn off safe-search. I even added it to the google search-box in my firefox install,

      • To say that Google is "evil" in this case is like saying the late Mother Teresa did what she did for the sake of publicity.

        Well.... Then Google is definitely evil.

      • Not really, it's 'on' by default if you're logged in. However, if you want to turn off personalized search there is a nice button right under the search box so I don't see a problem here. And while I believe Google's "don't be evil" motto has been only for show for a few years I don't think Twitter's arguments hold water. They killed the deal with Google, signed a new one with MS and now they complain their results don't show in Google search? C'mon, at least have someone intelligent read the press release
    • Shareholders demand not that it always increases even if it is huge and successful.

      Anybody who does well has to exploit their market position to the hilt to maintain constant growth or lose stock value. Scratch that, I mean the fastest growth possible of the share price -- faster growth than others.

    • The irony of this is, when Twitter was included on Google's Realtime Search, I preferred Google's search over Twitter's.

  • Buggy whip makers.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @01:38AM (#38660550)
    Also complained that that new fangled automobile would cause various societal ills. In reality, they were just pissed off that they were being obsoleted.
    • In reality, they were just pissed off that they were being obsoleted.

      Gah! How wrong can you be! Some buggy whip makers actually liked the air freshening scent of Eau de Cheval, you insensitive clod!

    • by 0ld_d0g ( 923931 )

      Yeah, those stupid horses cause all the stupid pollution anyway, and they keep using up all the oil that fuels geo-political instability in the middle-east :-P

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      Exactly. I'm surprised Twitter was up long enough for the message to be posted.

  • Twit Fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kodiaktau ( 2351664 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @01:48AM (#38660586) Journal

    This is a distraction to get media focus back on Twitter because of the Google search plus [] announcement. Honestly Twitter shows me the Fail Whale about once a week and their service record [] is poor for such a large site - so what will they be complaining about next?

    Google has been amassing tons of data and is now planning to use that to have personalized search - that is the story. I don't see how they will get around the filter bubble [] issue. (Never mind personal data protection and other issues [].)

    As a side I am still trying to wrap my head around Wolfram's blog today about using a TLD .data [] in relation to the Google announcement.

    Bad day for the internet?

    I am surprised it didn't hit Twitfail []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @01:55AM (#38660624)

    My problem with Google is that it's never really possible to opt out of their options: for some reason they can't stick to their effing cookies!

    I've recently had a lot of trouble with Google Instant and autocompletion: these are features I do *not* want, and yet, it doesn't matter how many times I deactivate them in the search settings, there's always some caveat where it can turn back on - "google instant will be reactivated if you blink the left eye while typing with your left finger on any google page" (or will be reactivated on all incoming searches from Chrome).

    Very often, the only solution is to manually game the search parameters: figure what (if anything) can turn all these extraneous additions off, and then turn them off. I'm pretty sure I'm going to face the same annoyance with this: I already see the switch "show personal results"/"hide personal results", and I'm sort of definite about the fact that no matter how I set it, it will tend to get switched back to "show personal results".

    (BTW, since I've started ranting, I might add this unrelated tidbit: how many times do I have to "revert to the old look" in Gmail for them to understand that I *can't* stand their new look for Gmail, and will hold out until the VERY END???!

    • I concur, just had google+ add my friends pop up in the middle of using google groups, with no close button. Give me back usenet.
  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:01AM (#38660646)

    Coming out "swinging" would have been more like "that's nothing, we have an answer to this that you will like even more!". This is more like a kid in the playground saying "no fair, I wasn't ready, do over!"

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @04:17AM (#38661106)
    I can see a problem with personalised search, but not the one that Twitter mentions. It may polarise opinions. Take two people, one leaning slightly towards centre-right wing politics and the other centre-left. These people might have different opinions on some things, but not much.

    The one leaning slightly right will see more and more search results showing that low tax is good, social provision bad, Obama wanting to make America a country like Europe or Scandinavia. This may move their opinion to the right slightly, so they will click on further right wing sites where they will start to see stories about "death panels" in Europe, global warming being fictitious and Obama wanting to make America a Muslim country, etc.

    The one with centre-left tendencies will see stories about corporations putting out false information on global warming, how European countries have higher levels of health at a lower cost, etc. but hardly any right-wing rebuttals. He may move slightly further left, and then see searches saying that democracy doesn't work because all parties are the same, how republicans want non-Christians barred from official positions (without the context that it is one or two extremists), and so on

    You end up with two centre-moderates moving to opposite extremes.

    • Depends how Google plays this. If the search result focus on a position somewhere between the global average and the current position of the searcher, the opposite development might be possible as well (picking up extremists and slowly leading them to global average). Of course they could also just make up their mind what they want people to believe and lead them to that point, or they might consider to sell the target point to the highest bidder.

    • I can't really see how this is much different from the previous norm of people buying left/right-leaning newspapers to suit their preferences. Not that I'm saying that this wasn't a problem either.

    • It's already like that for a long time. Personalized searches is not something new to Google.
    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @08:48AM (#38662248) Journal

      Obama wanting to make America a country like Europe or Scandinavia.

      Pop quiz!

      Q: What does America, Europe and Scandinavia have in common?

      A: They aren't countries.

    • There's a TED talk about this: Beware online filter bubbles! []

  • by q.kontinuum ( 676242 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @05:27AM (#38661362)

    Well, it worked for some time, but lately even when looking for some completely innocent words, like e.g. "frog" I tend to get only kinky results. (Don't ask, you don't want to see...) I could not remotely guess how this should in any way reflect my personal interest. (And I did delete my browser history in forehand, also I by no means did not look at any kinky stuff, off course.)

  • bad news for news publishers?! how will the world continue to live?
  • When I hear analyst, I don't think blogger, journalist, or even pundit. Maybe I'm thinking too financial about the word.

  • by nilbog ( 732352 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @04:06PM (#38677560) Homepage Journal

    I'll trust Google to figure out how to make information easier to find. That's their job and so far they've been pretty damn good at it. Twitter sucks at search.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.