Number Two Google Search Exec Shrugs Off Facebook's Search Prospects

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Photo: AP

Back at last fall’s Web 2.0 conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about how “a social version of anything can almost always be much more engaging and out-perform a non-social version.“Some industry watchers took this as a hint that Facebook is about to get serious about taking on Goolge in search.

After all, during the same speech, Zuckerberg bragged about how Facebook’s first crappy photo feature quickly blew past more sophisticated photo sites like Flickr, just because it was “social.”

If these people are right, and Facebook really is going oafter search,Google’s number two search exec, Amit Singhal, isn’t worried.

Not according to BusinessWeek’s Brad Stone, who reports:

[Amit] seems sceptical about whether social data can make search results significantly more relevant. If he’s searching for a new kind of dishwasher, he argues, his friend’s recommendations are interesting, but the cumulative opinion of experts manifested in search results is much more valuable.

He notes that Google already integrates content from Twitter and says social networking data is easily manipulated. Can social context make search more relevant?

“Maybe, maybe not. Social is just one signal. It’s a tiny signal,” he says.

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