Google, the Cornered Animal

published by Eric Mill on

Google's apparently itching to get sued. Yesterday, they announced that they're integrating Google+ into Google search results for everyone who's logged in while they search. It's not open to any other social networks: just Google+ results.

[Update: Not just people who are logged in, either.]

As for the merits of the feature, this is just another way that Google is favoring the 90-whatever% of people who use Google to surf around and talk with people, and making it harder for the people who are out there trying to Get Things Done with it. Whatever.

Danny Sullivan had a surprisingly awesome interview with Eric Schmidt, and though short on details of specific negotiations, Schmidt lays out Google's attitude extremely clearly. The video is below, and Sullivan wrote up an accompanying summary on MarketingLand.

It's a short video, but the gist of it is that Eric Schmidt is quite defensive of Google's decision. He seems to recognize that the move is not exactly advancing the "open web", and if you had a beer with him he might even admit that it's unfair: but he very clearly finds Facebook and Twitter's own behavior to be more unfair and a justification.

Sullivan is no fool, and presses Schmidt on the fact that Twitter and Facebook have robots.txt files that do not disallow scraping of their content. Schmidt says that that's Sullivan's interpretation, and that it's better to have conversations with "companies like that". Robots.txt isn't exactly a legal contract, after all, and this implies to me that Facebook and Twitter have made it clear in private channels, or at least strongly hinted, that they would be hostile to such a move.

It's worth noting that Google's currently scraping Yelp without Yelp's permission, to provide their data as part of Google Maps' Places pages. In doing so, Google has made an enemy of Yelp, and one that is happy to testify in Congress about it.

If they were trying to avoid making enemies, jamming Google+ into search results wasn't the way to do it. Twitter released a statement saying they're "concerned" about the deal right after Google's announcement, prompting Google to respond, saying Twitter was the one that decided to terminate their agreement last year.

Ugly all around. Maybe Google is just doing this to scare Twitter and Facebook into making a deal. Either way, Google had better be bracing for an anti-trust lawsuit. It's just a matter of time.

  1. Luigi Montanez

    I wrote a blog post about it:

  2. Eric Mill

    I'm not sure which of Sullivan's statements you're referring to? Google did mention the rel=nofollow links in their response to Twitter, but I didn't see how that fit into the larger picture.

  3. Luigi Montanez

    Sullivan doesn't correctly interpret Google's Google+ statement, which is weird considering he's an expert on this stuff.

    Twitter uses rel=nofollow on links in tweets. So, Google won't index those links (even if they index the tweets themselves). Thus, Google won't present "Eric Mill shared this on Twitter" in the search results, because they didn't index those links, as Twitter indicated through rel=nofollow.

  4. fxbx

    These guys played way too much Civilization, or are picking a strange way to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with a mixed up re-enactment of it.