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Twitter blasts prominence of Google+ content in search results

Google search results emphasizing Google+ content

Twitter came out swinging after Google said Tuesday it would display content from Google+ more prominently in search results than content from rival social networks.

"As we've seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results," Twitter spokesman Matt Graves said in a statement. "We're concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that's bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users."

Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray, who used to work at Google, on -- where else? -- Twitter called the launch of the new search feature a "bad day for the Internet." He commented that search was "being warped."

Google responded on Google+: "We are a bit surprised by Twitter's comments about Search plus Your World, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer, and since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions."

Google's new feature enables users to search for "personal results" that include posts, comments and photos from Google+ and photos from Picasa. But it will not promote results from rivals Facebook or Twitter.

Facebook declined to comment.

Google, which handles about two out of three Web searches in the U.S., is already under antitrust scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission. And lawmakers have questioned whether Google uses its dominant position in search to promote its own services at the expense of competitors and consumers.

Google and Twitter have history. Twitter gets traffic from Google, and Google used to pay Twitter for access to its "firehose" of tweets. It no longer does (although Microsoft's Bing still does). Google can still show tweets in search results because most of the 250 million of them a day are public.

Google has also tangled with Facebook, which does not let Google crawl its site. Facebook poses the biggest threat to Google in the battle for eyeballs and ad dollars. It's on the verge of a $100-billion initial public offering more highly anticipated than any tech offering since Google in 2004.

John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, took to Twitter to express his dismay.

“We are becoming helpless collateral casualties in the war between Google and Facebook,” Barlow wrote.

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-- Jessica Guynn

Image: Screenshot of Google's new personalized search results. Credit: Google

 
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