There has been an ongoing saga between Google and Twitter ever since Google moved into the social sphere with the launch of Google+. The latest tete a tete is over Google’s new social search engine – which they are labelling Search Plus Your World – where Twitter and Facebook results fail to appear.
As one of the largest social networks in the world Twitter make it clear they are affronted with this statement: “As we’ve seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter … We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone.”
The fact that Twitter is a vital resource for breaking news is undeniable. I can think of several examples personally, where I’ve spotted news stories on Twitter hours before they appear in the mainstream media. Elizabeth Taylor’s death and the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan are just two of the most prominent.
The concern is that Google are favouring fledgling Google Plus accounts over established, influential Twitter handles. Twitter took to its own platform to continue the attack. Alex Macgillivray – a member of the Twitter General Council – tweeted this screenshot of the Google search results for ‘@WWE’ to demonstrate the bias:
— Alex Macgillivray (@amac) January 11, 2012
In a cross-platform battle, Google then took to Google+ to respond to the accusations, citing that in July 2011 Twitter had failed to renew its contract to allow Google public access to tweets. Google’s Amit Singhal also told Search Engine Land that Google’s trawlers struggle to capture information from social sites. Singhal does then go on to add: “Of course, going forward, if others were willing to change, we’d look at designing things to see how it would work”.
The recent debacle only adds to concerns that Google are prioritising their own products over delivering users the search results they are actually looking for. In the past they have maintained credibility by their insistence on labelling paid-for adverts clearly and introducing such initiatives as Google Panda to crack down on link farming and duplicate content.
On the other hand, Google are a business not a public service and business sense would suggest that their own products should come first.
It seems to me that Google are straying too far from the best practice ethos that made them the leading search engine in the world – the Google brand is built on trust. What do you think – is this a savvy attempt to oust competitors or are Google biting the hand that feeds them?