Google’s ‘+1’ Examined

I’m sure you read last night’s roundup. It contained a little nugget about the Google answer to Facebook’s omnipresent “Like” Button. The theory behind this little web widget is simple: it allows you to recommend a page from within Google’s search results so your friends can see it. It ties to your Google Profile, so Google can link your Gmail, Twitter (if you’ve entered your account) and other friends to it when they search. Response to the button has been overwhelmingly “Why” “meh” or “¿Que es un Google?” and for pretty good reason. It’s really limited.

The idea is solid: Share your “+1” pages with friends. They see the recommendation and visit that page. Cool, huh? But Google doesn’t have a homepage that you visit to see these things. Even if they did, I wouldn’t use it. It’d be a mirror of Facebook, without the status updates, and you’d know  it’d be all about the advertising. Google has it’s claws into advertising for revenue, and targeted ads make more money. So if your gmail contacts Google something and see your “+1” they might click it. That means whatever ads are targeted at you, they assume will be correct for targeting your friends. This makes their job much easier.

But why use it? Well, I don’t know. Targeted ads are usually less entertaining for me, so I don’t care. In fact, the big fuss seems to be about lack of privacy. Everyone who’s web-savvy knows that Google wants those targeted ads, and are also afraid of their web habits being shared with third parties. The other issue is distorted search results. Your Google-Fu might become less effective if your idiot gmail contacts +1 everything. Imagine searching for lol cat pictures, and you get my +1 results for cat health pages in western Kentucky with comments containing “lol.” Congratulations, you now are a master of Google-FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

So if you want to have a public Google profile, allow Google to tie your social media and email accounts into it for sharing purposes, and show all your friends how much you love Buffy FanFic, go for it.

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Sources: MacWorld, The Washington Post, Google

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