Google's Social Search technology is finally ready for the big time, with the company officially moving it from Google Labs to a 'beta' option within the main search system.
As reported over on InformationWeek
, the experimental search system - introduced into the company's Labs playground back in October - brings in relevant content from users' social networking buddies, should they have been posting content that matches the search terms used.
Appearing under the headings of "My social circle
" and "My social content
," the new search options - freshly expanded to cover both traditional Google search results and Google Images - allow for more personalised content to be delivered to the user.
The move also gives Google more information about its users - naturally. In order to take advantage of the social search features, you'll need to sign up for a Google account and enter information about your membership on various social networks - including microblogging service Twitter and blog host Blogger - in order for the system to start returning results. Using this information, Google gets to know not only who you are, but who you know - expanding the company's ever-growing dossier on its users.
Indeed, with privacy advocates growing increasingly concerned about the amount of data Google attempts to store regarding its users' habits - to the point where the community development director at the Google-funded Mozilla Foundation recommends users switch
to Microsoft's Bing search engine - the company's attempt to sweep up still more data is likely to raise some hackles in the community.
Can you see the social search feature being useful, or just another way for Google to keep tabs on its users? Share your thoughts over in the forums