Google has changed its algorithm to make searches more relevant to users, at least that’s what their claiming. The service called “Search Plus Your World” integrates Google+, but it does not search Twitter or Facebook feeds. Twitter isn’t too happy. According to Zack Christenson over at the American Consumer Institute, Twitter took their beef with Google’s new search algorithm to the public:
“For years, people have relied on Google to deliver the most relevant results anytime they wanted to find something on the Internet.
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’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.”
Apparently, the Federal Trade Commission may look into the issue. In the Bloomberg article, the heart of the matter is whether or not Google has violated antitrust laws. I’m a Google user, a Google+ user (occasionally), a Twitter user, and a Facebook user. Frankly, I don’t care whether or not they include Twitter or Facebook feeds on my search results.
Here’s the thing: Google owns their proprietary search algorithm, so they should write it the way that they want to. If they want to skew the results, then they should feel free to, but they should be concerned about losing users if those users believe the search results are inaccurate or misleading (and who’s to say that things you see on Twitter and Facebook, much less the Internet in general, are the gospel anyway?). Besides, if folks don’t like how Google operates, then maybe they should check out a few of Google’s major search competitors. The Internet does reflect a free market that allows companies to make dumb decisions that could hurt them (see Netflix and Qwikster). If Google starts to see a decline in the number of users (and a subsequent decline in ad revenue), then I’m sure they’ll change course if users believe it’s a big enough of an issue.
Google has good products and services. It’s simple, fast, and efficient. I will say that there are a few issues as of late that have concerned me that make me wonder if Google is trying to skew the results in their favor. If this is the case, then I’ll just start using something else. I believe the decision on where to search for information made by millions of users would have a greater impact on Google than a ruling from the Federal Trade Commission.