Twitter slams Google for search changes

Twitter slammed Google in a statement on Tuesday after the search giant announced it would begin highlighting its own social networking content in search results.

"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," Twitter said in the statement.

"We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users," the company said.

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Google announced a new feature on Tuesday that will allow users to search for "personal results," such as posts by their friends, alongside public results.

The information will be tailored for individual users but will only include results from Google's social networking site, Google+, and not other sites such as Facebook or Twitter.

With the new feature, searching for a movie title may display show times and professional reviews along with what a user's friends are saying about it.

Users will need to be logged in to their Google+ account to view the customized results. 


The changes do not affect Google's standard public results, which mostly exclude social networking content because of privacy settings and other technical obstacles.


"We want to help you find the most relevant information from your friends and social connections, no matter what site it’s on. However, Google does not currently have access to fully crawl the content on some sites, so it’s not possible for us to surface all that information," a Google spokeswoman said in an email. 

"Ushering in the new era of social and private data search will take close cooperation, and we hope other sites participate so we can provide the best possible experience for our users."

The complaint from Twitter comes as Google is already under scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for potentially engaging in anticompetitive business practices. 

Lawmakers including Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have questioned whether Google is using its dominant position in online searches to give it an unfair advantage in other markets by ranking its own services — such as Google Maps, Google Travel or YouTube — higher in search results.

Google settled charges with the FTC last year that it misled consumers by automatically opting them in to its now defunct social network, Google Buzz.

The settlement bars Google from misrepresenting its privacy policies and requires the company to submit to outside privacy audits.

--Updated at 8:03 p.m.

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