Google has challenged popular networks like Facebook and further blurred the line between social networking and search by graduating their Social Search tool to beta for all Google users.  

Keep Tabs On Everything, and Everyone

Here’s how it works: First, check out your Google profile. Here’s a shot of mine:

google_profile.jpg

Google Profile

In the top right corner are all the things I’ve allowed to connect with my Google profile, such as my Twitter feed and my Facebook account. These connections are key for Social Search results—whatever you connect in this space is what will appear when your friends search for information that you’ve commented on using one of these networks.

For example, if a friend I’m connected to uses Google to search for information about a restaurant in San Francisco called Jitra Thai Cuisine, my Yelp review of the restaurant will appear in a designated space for Social Search results. This can come in handy for people whose friends’ opinions weigh heavier than those of strangers. Also, it's a simple way to discover what your friends are up to.

Worried about privacy or transparency? Maureen Heymans, the technical lead on Google Social Search, put together a demo video that also addresses these issues:

"We think there's tremendous potential for social information to improve search, and we're just beginning to scratch the surface," said Heymans.

Google vs. ______

It's a new feature and there are still kinks to be worked out, but the important thing to note here is that Google is integrating social networking with daily Internet activities in such a way that perhaps soon we won't have a choice but to be connected. 

Facebook has a similar search function that digs up relevant information from the friends in your network, but of course, it's no Google. Also, displaying social results next to regular results as Google does offers a nice balance of information for users.

Still, it's a little early to be talkin' checkmates. So, try it out yourself and tell us what you think. All you need is a Google account!