A bunch of Facebook engineers – along with engineers from Twitter and MySpace – just admonished Google to “focus on the user” and “don’t be evil.”
Earlier this month, Google launched an optional feature called “Search plus your world.” It integrates personalised content from social networks into Google search results.
Only, search plus your world doesn’t include any content from Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace – the biggest social networks out there.
It does, however, include lots of content from Google’s social network, Google Plus.
Some engineers at Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace think this is unfair to users – and to demonstrate why, they’ve created a modified version of Google, which you can access on a site called Focusontheuser.org.
The site reads:
“How much better would social search be if Google surfaced results from all across the web? The results speak for themselves. We created a tool that uses Google’s own relevance measure—the ranking of their organic search results—to determine what social content should appear in the areas where Google+ results are currently hardcoded.”
It’s unclear whether or not this site is officially the work Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, the companies, or just something put out by a bunch of their employees. In an FAQ, the product is said to be “a proof of concept built by some engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace and in consultation with several other social networking companies.”
We learned about this site when Facebook engineer Blake Ross tweeted about it.
A telling detail: to use the product, you have to install a bookmarklet labelled “Don’t Be Evil.”
FocusOnTheUser.org will inevitably raise uncomfortable antitrust questions for Google. Is it using its search market share dominance to unfairly promote its own social products? Is that different than the kind of product “bundling” that got Microsoft?