Remember when Google faced a barrage of criticism over its “Search Plus Your World” feature back in 2012? OK, maybe not – the row has died down now. However, the search giant seems to have taken the criticisms to heart (it was roundly accused of promoting its own content in search results ahead of potentially better results). German-based tech journalist Bernd Rubel was the first to spot a new development last week: Google’s Knowledge Graph now links to other social networks besides Google+.
Check it out yourself. Google “U2” and you’ll find that the Knowledge Graph on the top right of the results page includes links to the band’s MySpace, Twitter and Facebook profiles in addition to Google+ (there’s also a link to Google-owned YouTube). Alternatively, try Kim Kardashian: the Graph contains links to her MySpace, Facebook and Twitter profiles as well as Google+.
These additional social links aren’t appearing in all Knowledge Graph boxes just yet. Google “Starbucks,” for example, and you’ll find only its most recent Google+ posts, while “Bono” will yield positively nothing about any social site and “Scarlett Johansson” will show only a MySpace icon.
This move by Google to include competitors in its Knowledge Graph may seem like no big deal, but it took a savage mauling just a few short years ago when it chose to show only Google+ links and content in the panel (then, as we noted earlier, called “Search Plus Your World”). Other social networks didn’t get a look in, a tactic that led to patent absurdities like showing a totally dormant Google+ account for Mark Zuckerberg while completely ignoring his far more active Facebook profile.
So incensed were some people by this that a few savvy web developers collaborated on devising an ironically-named “Don’t Be Evil tool” that allowed users to view links to other social networks beneath the Google+ stuff. Even though that particular row has fallen onto the fabled rubbish-tip of history, Google continues to face charges that it continues to give undue pride of place to its own content in search results.
This new move should help deflect some of those accusations. The giant, it seems, has got in touch with its inner softie and has finally listened to complaints.
OK, maybe that’s far-fetched. Nevertheless, the change is there for all to see.