back to article Google stalks your social circle

Google took its beach towel down to the social networking pool yesterday with the release of its latest Facebook-apeing Web 2.0-stylie search tool. Mountain View announced a new Google Labs experiment - dubbed “Social Search” - that creepily helps users probe more “relevant public content” from their “broader social circle”. …


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  1. Jay Castle

    Damned plebby web-speak!

    “What we've done is surface that content together in one single place to make your results more relevant,” it said.

    No, what you've done is talk a load of Bollocks 2.0 - that's what you've done! WTF does 'surface that content' even MEAN?! And who asked for this app\feature anyway?

    I suppose inventing phrases that we don't understand is a great way to promote services we don't want......

  2. NB

    privacy law surely?

    is it even legal for them make that much information available?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    This is great for

    people who have friends that they never talk to and hence can't ask them questions directly.

    Otherwise known as people who don't have friends.

  4. Reg Varney
    Thumb Down

    Sounds another good reason...

    not tyo sign up to Gmail, or facebook

  5. Jerome 0

    Publically available?

    If I happen to have some friends without Gmail accounts, whom I correspond with through my private Facebook profile, how is this information "publically available on the web?"

  6. Chronos
    Big Brother

    Joined up

    Two words that should, by now, strike fear into the hearts of anyone who has ever made a mistake or been foolish online.

    Don't be evil - or stupid, embarrassed or careless because we're watching you and those moments *will* come back to haunt you, a little like with real names.

  7. Bill Neal
    Gates Horns

    and as for Bing?

    Bing already serves as a great facebook search tool, so what is so different or bad about this? You should never consider anything you post online 'private'

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Suddenly glad i resisted all the G apps now..

    While people were telling me how great and wonderful Gmail is, and how i should customise my google page (so i am logged into google on every web visit)... i thought it would end in tears... and now that google has done what every other data collector seems to have done ('we wont use your info atall, until we can figure out a use for it')... i feel vindicated.... as my email is never searched by anyone but me (i run my smtp server) and my facebook stuff is not known to anyone but my small group of friends (all of whom i knew in real life first!).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Google vs. Microsoft

    Looks like google is making in roads against microsoft:

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a good idea

    This might be highly undesirable for those that lead separate lives in different contexts... A civil servant/policeman/judge/teacher may have one set of accounts for email and networking sites whilst at work but another set altogether to mingle with dominatrix friends from the Torture Garden.

  11. adnim


    it used to take time and effort to gather enough information about a person in order to steal an identity, commit fraud or indeed locate a person in the real world in order to possibly inflict harm upon them. Only the most dedicated and patient psychopath was prepared to go that far and fortunately they are still in the minority. Thanks to this pooling of publicly available information any part-time psychopath no matter how temporarily psychotic or lacking in smarts, has the tools at his or her disposal to quickly follow up on a knee jerk reaction to any petty slight they feel they might have received.

    Be nice out there ;-)

  12. Kevin 9

    Hmm.... Identity Fraud made easy!

    Glad google has come up with an app to help with identity fraud. They are ever so useful...

    I guess it's too late for me to opt out of the internet...

  13. Doug Glass

    What's Amazing ...

    ... about all these "social" tools is how much and how widely they're used. I never realized so many people felt so alone and so disconnected from the rest of humanity. How interesting.

    Maybe that's why the "older generation" is not using these apps to as great an extent as the younger crowd and in fact find them unnecessary oddities. We learned long ago how to make [a few] real friends, be complete within ourselves, and not confuse quantity with quality.

    There are times I don't want to be paged, called on any phone, or for that matter contacted in any way. Sometimes I just want to be me without outside influences. Influences that generally prove to be little more than an annoyance anyway. Family and chosen close friends are a different story, but then we don't inundate each other with meaningless dribble and incessant babble.

    I was in the grocery store the other day and overheard one half of a cell phone conversation about buying a loaf of bread. It went on for a long time and I just chucked at the young woman who seemed truly confused by all the choices. But then women "go shopping" whereas men "go buying".

    We're not raising a generation of more friendly humans. we're raising a generation of codependent Lemmings.

    Time for a beer which I bought while the young woman chattered about dread. Not hard for me to decide which I wanted. Ah yes.... Fosters!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To everyone bitching about this

    Come on peeps,

    If you don't want it exploited by anyone and everyone don't post it on the internet.

    (And yes, that unfortunately means YOU have to take responsibility for protecting YOUR privacy).

    What, too late? Tough shit.

  15. Adam Salisbury

    I wanna try it!

    This new tool could prove useful at showing the facespaced beboedin masses how much of their often trivial lives they're broadcasting to all and sundry. I usually consider myself careful with that kind of stuff, it's far too easy to careflessy change a status forgetting your mum/boss/ex can see it all, so I'd like to try this thing and see exactly how much it finds and where it says it all is!

    Of course it just made Stalking 2.0 far easier, cheers for the fail Google!

  16. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Free tools for you... get your free tools now...

    “With Social Search, Google finds relevant public content from your friends and contacts and highlights it for you at the bottom of your search results,”

    What so for example I search for "Christmas candles" and then Google recommending my friends latest porn searches for the maximum number of candles she can take in one go!? :) ... I don't think I want to know! :) ... certainly not at that point in time! :)

    Joking aside this all looks like a way to educate people into accepting ever more loss of their privacy. Everyone starts getting leaked information on everyone else ... its all about sharing you know. Share your information with everyone. Meanwhile the power hungry control freaks are more than happy to placate people into accepting a total loss of their privacy, because the more information people leak, the more power it gives the elite in a position to exploit such growing open data and so knowledge and power.

    Oh great ... so when will I be getting Businesses and Politician propaganda advertising along the lines of:

    (1) Buy this product as its owned by 73.23% of your friends!

    (2) This politician is doing exactly what you are interested in, in situations A, B and C so he is ideal for you to vote for him!

    I hear they already manipulate printed manifestos in America (which they post to each household) and the lies and manipulation are based on information they hold on you. So for example, if you own a gun license or a car license etc... so they say things like "we are doing all we can to help protect you, vote for us." ... if you don't have a gun license. But if you do have a gun license, they say something like "we are doing all we can to help you protect yourself, vote for us." ... its all subtle manipulation based on what they know about you. Each thing they know gives them another string to pull. What they are really saying is, "vote for me, I want power". The more information companies and governments get on us all, the more effective their lies and manipulation become over ever more of us ... until they fool enough people to give them a big enough share to have real power and influence. But they don't care about us, even when they say they do, they are focused on their own greed for money and power and all the personal gain they get from such power and they will say more or less whatever it takes to get what they want.

    I don't care so much about businesses exploiting technology (although I hate endless adverts), but I do very much care about anything that allows political exploitation of technology. Google's power is scary how it can be used for political gain, after all even political views need advertising. But worse still I find the insidious way we are loosing our privacy and liberty very worrying and this news is yet another good example of the educating to push us into acquiescence and we are all being bombarded with it endlessly, to make us all accept ever more loss of our privacy and ever more growing power over us all. The problem is, throughout history when a powerful minority gain such crushing power over the majority, it always without fail, ends badly.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    TIA Redux?

    Remember Poindexter (who did time) and his argument that "It's all already out there."

    The power of these things is not that they dig out information already in the public domain, but that they CORRELATE and AGGREGATE that information.


    Paris, because, well, duh.

  18. MinionZero

    @Doug Glass

    "about all these "social" tools is how much and how widely they're used. I never realized so many people felt so alone and so disconnected from the rest of humanity. How interesting."

    You tend to find the core ring leaders in adopting this group attention based technology have tendencies towards Histrionic behavior. Statistically its hard to estimate exactly, but its about 2% of the US population have Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) but then you also need to add in some people from the other three cluster B disorders, as some of them also show signs of being partly Histrionic. So a rule of thumb for some degree of Histrionic behavior is say about 5% of the population (although its only about 2% at the extreme end).

    So for example America has a population of about 300 million people so you are talking about a core group of about 15M people just in the US. Add in Europe and Asia and you easily get into the 40M range and then they attract the attention of non-HPD people. HPD people seek to be the center of attention so all attention based technology gives them what they want. So for example, Television, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Acting, Singing, Fashion industry, Celebrities news (they want to watch other HPDs to see how they should behave to win attention. For example, all of reality television is ideal for HPDs and the other HPDs hold the celebrities HPDs up as role models. So reality television gets a lot of attention in the celebrity news media).

    (Histrionic personality disorder is caused by a lack of sufficient parental attention, often for years during childhood. The milder cases are the result of sibling rivalry and parental divorce while the more extreme cases are the result of parental neglect and abuse. The end result is the child grows up with a need for the attention of others and no amount of attention will ever take that need for attention away (until they get help). Many of them become very good at seeking the attention of others and very good at finding ways to humiliate others to distract attention away from others so they can regain the center of attention. They become the circus ring leader and all their acts are about attention.

    Also don't forget humans are pack animals, so there is some need for attention in us all, its just the HPDs have that behavior in extremes. After all the center of the pack is the safest place to be when the child is deprived the attention and therefore protection of its parents. So its easy to see why HPD behavior comes about in our human packs we know of as our society.

  19. Anonymous Coward


    This is typical Google.

    They waffle on about how YOU have control over what you do and don't see in your search results, but there's no mention of control for the poor saps whose information is being pulled into your search results without their explicit consent.

    It's the same with GFail.

    Google index all Gmail mail content (and the implication is that if you don't like such behaviour then don't use Gmail). However, what about all those people who DON'T use Gmail but end up replying to an email that's been sent from a Gmail account. This results in your email content ending up in an indexed Gmail account even though you don't use Gmail yourself and have never agreed to have your email content indexed by Google.

    Google need to start thinking about the privacy of those people who are NOT opting to be a part of any Google service, rather than just focussing on the privacy issues of those who have chosen to sign up to a Google service.

  20. Stuart Finlayson

    Opt out / more evil

    You can apparently disable this - or "opt out of this social experiment". According to

    "To opt out, visit and click the Leave button for the experiment." Although it doesn't explain exactly what opting out means - will you still show up in other people's social searches?

    Rather more spookily, the page also says "If someone you don't know shows up in your social search results, it's likely that they're connected to someone you do know." So not only are they looking up your friends, they're linking you to your friends' friends, or your acquaintances' boss/parents/ex.

  21. ElReg!comments!Pierre
    Thumb Down

    If it's private...

    ... maybe you shouldn't put it on the web for the whole world to see. Or you could host it yourself and tweak your robot.txt accordingly, or put it behind some kind of autentication.

    You know, ALL these online services have this things called Terms and Conditions that states that you *do* *not* *own* the content you put online through them anymore. You ticked the box, didn't you read the text?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Doug Glass - Hero!

    You are my hero! You should start your own Church of Common Sense!

    Exactly what I find so strange. People gravitating towards these social networks, claiming to have hundreds of "friends" but in reality they have nothing but vague links to a lot of other disconnected souls.

    I don't understand this need to be constantly wired into the internet, to never be disconnected. I can understand kids being drawn towards it, they are just starting to understand how use their social skills, but grown adults obsessed with every minutae on Twatter, Nonce-Book or MysPedo. Nothing I love more than getting up at the crack of dawn at the weekend, just wandering out in the countryside, without my phone or laptop, just a few hours of nothing but me, my camera and a flask of tea. No kids, no missus, nothing! I recently lost my mobile, took me three days to actually bother getting my act together to find the damn thing, it was so good to be out of contact for just 72 hours!

  23. jayeola

    thing that gets me is...

    ...we are social animals and nothing beats real life, RL, meatspace or what ever you want to call it. Deep down inside we must all know this. Nothing beats talking to a friend face to face, even though it may be raining and the bus is taking ages to get home because you are stuck in traffic.

    When was the last time you ever said to a friend "that was a great tweet, blog post, yada yada"?

    Why are we so fascinated with on-line ghosts?

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