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A Week in Google: Treading on Dangerous Ground?

Google is on the rack this week for ignoring Twitter from its "plus Your World" expanded search feature and over-focusing on its own Google+. We look at the ramifications of that, a ruckus in Africa and see what else happened in the wide world of the company this week.

You're Not in Beta Anymore

Google has made plenty of mistakes in the past — products have busted on launch, services have gone wrong or just failed to attract enough users. But by burying them all in the evolving beta "get-out," things could be tweaked or quietly buried.

But when Google starts messing with its core search product, there's no hiding the reality when things go wrong, or when users aren't happy. And when those things get political, in the broad terms of the Internet, then Google is really in line for a drubbing.

That's what's emerged this week as Google's Plus Your World search has focused on dragging up results from Google+, ahead of the massively more popular Facebook and ignoring Twitter completely, which flies in the face of logic for Google "searching all of the Web".

This has kicked up a massive fuss online, between all the vested parties, but from the user's perspective, dragging up results from a niche social service does not in any way benefit those users, making the feature a waste of time. Until that's fixed, the industry can argue all it likes, but unhappy users will just go elsewhere (Bing, which does have Twitter results in its search, in this case).

It Does Rain in Africa, Right Above Google Kenya

Further woes for Google this week came from Africa, where its Kenyan division was eagerly setting up business. Unfortunately Google has been caught using a rival's (Mocality) database (and even claiming it was working with that rival).

Mocality's conclusion is as follows:

Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so."

This might be dismissed as typical of the region in the west, but other local business database firms around the world will be checking their datalogs to see if it is part of a wider practice. If this does turn out to be widespread, that could result in massive lawsuits, sanctions and action against Google from companies and governments.

On a Cheerier Note

Users of Blogger will be delighted to hear that comments are now threaded. The feature was added as part of a recent update, and users shouldn't have to do anything unless they changed their default settings to see the feature in action.

Over on Google+, changes have been made to remove the "Incoming" stream, which can represent rather a torrent of information (especially if you follow Robert Scoble). Google's own Dave Desbris explains why the feature has been removed:

[W]e learned that the "Incoming" stream was a very confusing part of Google+. Not surprisingly, this feedback was reflected in very low usage of the "Incoming" stream compared to the rest of Google+, so we decided to remove it and simplify things."

Hopefully Google will be back to innovating and playing nicely with its neighbors next week, but for now, today is one Friday the 13th the company will want to forget. Now here's Hank with the sports… 

 
 
 
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