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Google’s Knowledge Graph Finally Shows Social Networks Not Named Google+
Icons and links to Facebook, Twitter and other profiles now showing for some entities.
Years after a controversy over a decision to promote its own social network, Google+, in search results, Google has begun linking to other social networks in its Knowledge Graph.
As first spotted by Bernd Rubel and reported by Search Engine Roundtable, Google is now showing icons for social sites including Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace and others. The Knowledge Graph panel on a search for “U2,” for example, shows links to the band’s profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, along with Google properties like YouTube and Google+.
The social links don’t appear in all Knowledge Graph panels, and different social sites will show up for different Knowledge Graph entities. Search for “Starbucks,” for example, and you’ll still only see the company’s recent Google+ posts. Search for “Bono” and you won’t see anything from any social network. Search for “Scarlett Johansson” and you’ll only see a Myspace icon and link. (She doesn’t have accounts on Twitter or Facebook, from what I can tell.)
The “Search Plus Your World” Controversy
The inclusion of other social sites in Knowledge Graph may not seem like a big deal, but it brings back memories of a huge controversy from a couple years ago.
Google found itself in hot water in early 2012 when it launched a new feature called “Search Plus Your World.” Part of the feature was that Google would show links and content from Google+ on the right side of its search results, ignoring other social networks where the person involved might be more active.
Google was accused of favoring its own content ahead of potentially better results. One famous example was that Google would show a link to Mark Zuckerberg’s dormant Google+ account rather than his active Facebook profile. Some enterprising developers created a Don’t Be Evil tool that let users see links to other social networks below the Google+ content.
The move seemed to help Google at least in the short term when stars like Lady Gaga — who already had millions of fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter — suddenly joined Google+.
That controversy has long since died down, but Google does continue to face accusations that it favors its own content in search results. If nothing else, adding links to Facebook, Twitter and other social sites in the Knowledge Graph might help Google deflect some of those charges in the future.