New +1 social-search button lets users share results with contacts…
Google has announced the launch of its +1 tool, which allows users to recommend search results to friends and contacts.
Resembling Facebook's Like button, Google's new feature works by providing a +1 button next to individual search entries which users can click to recommend a specific result to contacts.
The official Google blog said +1 is "the digital shorthand for 'this is pretty cool'".
To use +1, searchers must create a Google profile or upgrade an existing one. Users will then need to log into their Google account to see +1s from people they are connected to through Google Chat and Google Contacts.
Initially, +1s will only appear next to search items and adverts, although Google's blog set out its intention to roll out +1 to other Google products such as YouTube. The blog also said in the future +1 might link to connections made through Twitter and other social networks.
Google says the main motivation behind +1 is to provide people with search results that are more relevant to them, adding to Google's social search.
"Say, for example, you're planning a winter trip to Tahoe, California. When you do a search, you may now see a +1 from your slalom-skiing aunt next to the result for a lodge in the area. Or if you're looking for a new pasta recipe, we'll show you +1s from your culinary genius college room-mate," Google's blog said.
However, the +1 button will also provide Google with valuable data on what users like, which is information that social-networking sites such as Facebook refuse to share.
Google has attempted to enter the social-media sphere before, most notably with Google Buzz, which was launched early in 2010.
Buzz faced controversy after the social platform was automatically attached to all Gmail accounts without consent. Google this week settled a case with the US Federal Trade Commission over Buzz privacy issues and must now submit to privacy audits for the next 20 years.