Last Wednesday Google introduced its latest social tool. Coincidentally, this launch occurred the same day Google settled with the Federal Trade Commission over charges of deceptive privacy practices last year for Buzz, the social networking tool in Gmail.
Google agreed to start a privacy program, permit audits for 20 years and face $16,000 fines for any privacy misrepresentations in the future. The charges made against Google went down in history since this is the first time the F.T.C. has ever charged a company with violations of this nature and ordered a company to start a privacy program.
The new social networking tool is called “+1” and lets people note Google search results and ads so they can recommend pages to friends. The name stems from Internet slang that people use to indicate that they approve of something someone else has said.
The biggest challenge that this social tool will face is competition. Facebook has dominated the social networking game for years now, and does not appear to be losing strength. Facebook is also a place where people go to seek information about vacations, restaurants and bars/clubs since they value their friend’s opinions. Google is already facing criticisms about the “+1” button since it is very reminiscent of the Facebook “Like” button.
A principal search engineer at Google, Matt Cutts, stressed with great importance that anything you share on “+1” is public.
When you log into your Google account you will be able to click a “+1” button next to search results to publicly recommend the pages. People looking at the same results will see how many users recommend a page and will see names and photographs of people they know.
Google is also going to change the page design of the personal profiles to mirror those of successful social networking sites.
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