Former Google exec: Facebook, Twitter are killing search

Former Google exec: Facebook, Twitter are killing search

Summary: Former Google executive Stafford Masie believes that traditional search is dying because users are choosing to query their friends and followers on services like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.


Stafford Masie, the former head of Google South Africa, believes Google's traditional business in search is shrinking and that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr are to blame. Last week, Masie said: "Google is dying." That could have been my headline, but as you can see in the video above (audio only), courtesy of MyBroadband, he quickly explained where he was coming from.

It's not that Google is dying; it's just that users are using the search engine less, often choosing to use a social network instead. They aren't just using things like Facebook Questions, they're asking questions and posting comments on each other's statuses, in groups, to their followers. Overall, Internet users often refer to their social circles online rather than using Google search. Here's a transcription of Masie's observations:

The pie of search query volumes in the world – that business is shrinking. Why? Because people are going and doing search queries – search query volumes are moving towards social containers. They're moving away from static pages being searched and they're moving more towards dynamic real-time stream content. Like Twitter. Like Tumblr. Like Facebook. Those things have a better result because the penetration, the personalization associated with it, and the constant freshness of the content. So I believe that Google's search volume – the business Google is in on the search side – that business is shrinking. And they've got to do something about it.

Masie also points out how Apple's Siri on the iPhone 4S uses Google as a last resort. He then notes that Google may maintain its market share, but the overall number of queries Google takes is decreasing. I would argue that this may not necessarily be true (since the Internet's population is growing) but certainly a bigger and bigger portion of queries are being asked on social networks and other services, as opposed to just search.

It's not that traditional search is not valuable or that consumers aren't using it anymore, Masie just think it won't be around in the future. He argues that this is why Google is so insistent on winning at social, why it launched Google+, and why it is now augmenting its search results with its social network.

I don't think search will ever be replaced by social networks, but I do believe the search engine will decrease in importance. Instead, search and social will continue to gradually come closer and closer together.

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Google

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • RE: Former Google exec: Facebook, Twitter are killing search

    He is smoking something! The web is too big not to have a search service...

    Also, I bet that the people being asked are using Google or Bing to find the answers to many of the questions.
  • Hmm... let me facebook that one.

    Facebook may provide me with a few friends' opinions or personal experiences, but 98% of my Web queries are for hard facts. I'm looking for a company or a product or a map or photos or historical facts, etc. I can't imagine a benefit to asking Facebook friends when any search engine will get me near-instant answers.
  • RE: Former Google exec: Facebook, Twitter are killing search

    I have never heard such a load of tripe. Google is essentially on its way to becoming the Multivac of Asimov's future; the first planetary intelligence. It's not just a search engine. Compare all that growing and increasingly sophisticated intelligence versus the combined stupidity and ignorance of the billions continually belching their banal and essentially fictitious life stories onto Twitter and Facebook. There is absolutely no possibility whatever of Masie's prediction ever being anything other than a joke.
    • RE: Former Google exec: Facebook, Twitter are killing search

      @ralphclark I agree. Besides, does anyone really get answers to their questions on Facebook? Half of my posts don't even get read and a smaller percentage get responses and likewise, that is true for how often I give more than a cursory read, and even less, respond, to posts on Facebook. Not often, unless it is something that really interests me or pisses me off. Google is still the way I get answers, and I suspect, the way people get answers that they can post on Facebook.