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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Google Buzz: Both Promising and Confusing

It’s now been just a few days now since Google launched its Google Buzz social-sharing service and started rolling it out to Gmail users. Much of the coverage so far has been grumpy — especially when it comes to the fact that the initial list of people you autofollow on Buzz is based on who you talk with most often in Gmail, and that list is public unless you choose to make it private.

To its credit, Google has responded swiftly to complaints: It’s already tweaked Buzz to make it more obvious what information the service is making public, and to help you crank up the privacy settings.

(Side note: I kinda wish that Google’s blog post hadn’t talked about users who “thought their contacts were being made public without their knowledge (in particular the lists of people they follow, and the people following them).”If Google is making this information public, I don’t see how users can think it’s being done “without your knowledge.” If you think you don’t know something, then…you don’t. I think Google meant something along the lines of “thought their contacts were being made public without any disclosure…”)

Google’s explanation of the post-release changes points out that millions of people are now using Buzz…and maybe that’s part of the issue. Rather than let a sizable pool of testers outside of Google try the service out before opening up the floodgates, it’s gone straight to a full-blown launch. Sounds like the company didn’t expect some of the confusion that’s happening.

Me, I’m finding much to like in Buzz. For instance, it has one of the nicest photo-album viewers I’ve ever seen anywhere:

I’m not going to dump Twitter and Facebook anytime soon, but Buzz is full of potential and I can see it becoming the third major service of this sort. Given Google’s spotty history with social stuff, that’s impressive in itself.

But multiple aspects of Buzz in its current form are frustrating. And quite frequently, the service leaves me just plain confused.

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Facebook is the new threat to Google

More people are coming to US news sites via Facebook and other social networking sites such as Twitter – supplanting Google News, which had been one of the primary sources of readers, according to research by the metrics company Hitwise.

During the past year, the proportion of traffic that Facebook sends to US media sites has tripled from around 1.2% to 3.52%, while that sent by Google News has remained roughly static, at around 1.4%, says Heather Hopkins, North America analyst for Hitwise.

The growing power of Facebook also means that publishers which want to demand money from – or alternatively to lock out – Google News because of claims that it “leeches” on their content could do so without fearing a dramatic impact on their reader figures.

With more than 400m users, Facebook forms the newest – and most unexpected – threat to Google, say some analysts. Last weekend the search engine spent $5m on a TV advert during the Superbowl, puzzling many who do not see a threat from rival search engines such as Microsoft’s Bing, which has less than half of its proportion of search queries.

But Hopkins notes in a blogpost for Hitwise that: “Facebook could be a major disruptor to the News and Media category. And with the Wall Street Journal already publishing content to Facebook, perhaps the social network can avoid the run-ins that Google has suffered recently with Rupert Murdoch. We will continue to watch this space.”

Murdoch’s editors and executives have repeatedly criticised aggregators such Google News, claiming it is leeching off their content by displaying snippets of their work. In the UK, the Murdoch-owned titles have gone as far as blocking access to their sites by Newsnow, a smaller news aggregator.

Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, has argued that publishers should take advantage of the traffic that it sends them – pointing out that it sends about 4bn such links per year.

But Facebook provides the perfect counterweight, where publishers can choose how much of their content they display and view how well it is followed. Sites such as Facebook and increasingly Twitter contribute hundreds of thousands of visits every month to UK sites, according to analysis by the Guardian.

John Minnihan, the founder of the software code respositoryFreepository, warns that Facebook poses one of the biggest threats to Google on the web. “With recent data showing a large uptick in ‘Facebook as home page’, [Google] may well indeed need to remind emerging generation who/what it is. In that case, the [Superbowl] ad makes some business sense. Whatever the real reason, it has nothing to do with ‘sharing video more widely’. If FB dev’ed an integrated web-wide search engine, think about how much traffic would evaporate [from Google] overnite. That’s nightmare stuff.”

Tellingly, Minnihan’s comments were made on Twitter — which Google is rumoured to be trying to compete with in a “social version” of its Gmail webmail product to be launched today. Google has already tried – and failed – to create a world-scale social network with its Orkut product, but been obliged instead to purchase access to Twitter’s search results to provide real-time insight into what people are talking about. Facebook’s content however lies beyond its reach – and that could be crucial in the forthcoming months as news publishers in the US and UK consider putting up higher paywalls or demanding money from aggregators.

Google introduces Social Search

google-labs

Google has announced the next step in its ever evolving search engine, Social Search.

Google is currently rolling out a test version on Google Labs. The idea is simple, more relevant and personalised search. Imagine searching for New York and finding your friends blog on New York or searching for Florida and finding pictures of Disney World from one of your friends. It makes searching more personal.

All the content is available on the web but what Google has done is surface that content together in one single place to make your results more relevant. Google builds a social circle of your friends and contacts using the connections linked from your public Google profile, such as the people you’re following on Twitter or FriendFeed. The results are specific to you, so you need to be signed in to your Google Account to use Social Search. If you use Gmail, Google also include your chat buddies and contacts in your friends, family, and coworkers groups. And if you use Google Reader, Google will include some websites from your subscriptions as part of your social search results.

Google Social Search will be available from Google Labs today.

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Microsoft Help is now on Twitter

Microsofthelps

Microsoft has launched a new Twitter account that will provides customers with help and information on Microsoft products @MicrosoftHelps is now the official Twitter account for Microsoft Customer Service and they will be there to help you find answers and to help escalate your issues!The @MicrosoftHelps team consists of Andrea, Andrew, Brian and other experienced folks who will also will monitor & respond in real time to tweets on the subject.

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Twitter in talks with Microsoft, Google

Twitter is in separate, advanced talks with Microsoft and Google to bring the social network’s massive heap of real-time data to the companies’ search engines, All Things Digital reports.

Sources close to the discussions told All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher that the deals would include licensing Twitter’s full feed and integrating it into Bing’s and Google’s search results. The deals could involve millions of dollars in payment, revenue sharing, or a combination of both.

Sources said a number of scenarios are being discussed to compensate Twitter for its huge and potentially valuable trove of real-time and content-sharing information, generated from the data stream of billions of tweets from its 54 million monthly users. …

The deals, stressed sources close to the situation, are nonexclusive, especially because Twitter’s management is keen to remain independent and also nonpartisan in the growing search battle between Google and Microsoft.

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Twitter in Google, Microsoft licensing talks

twitter

Service Twitter is in advanced talks with Google Inc and Microsoft Corp about licensing its data feed to the companies’ search engines, a Web blog associated with the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Twitter’s discussions with Microsoft and Google are being conducted separately and would allow each company to incorporate the 140-character messages, or “tweets,” that Twitter is known for into their Internet search results.

The ability to cull through the flood of tweets as they are posted, known as real time search, is gaining popularity as an important new way to search the Internet for up-to-the-minute information on the latest news events and happenings.

The AllThingsDigital blog quoted unidentified sources as saying the companies are discussing several types of deals. Details could include Twitter receiving a payment of several million dollars and various types of revenue-sharing agreements to allow Twitter to benefit from the ad revenue that Microsoft and Google generate from search results.

Twitter has emerged as one of the fastest-growing Internet social media services. But the company has yet to generate any significant revenue from its free service. Twitter has cited advertising and premium features as two potential money-making plans.

Last month, Twitter received $100 million in new funding from investors including T.Rowe Price and Insight Venture Partners, based on a $1 billion valuation for Twitter, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Representatives from Twitter were not immediately available for comment. Google and Microsoft declined to comment.

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