Google's Me On The Web Pushes Google Profiles - Take That, Facebook?
Google has launched a new Me On The Web section within its Google Dashboard area, which seems designed to push more people toward creating Google Profiles, as well as create greater awareness of how things that leak out of Facebook and other social networks may end up on Google.
The Facebook Factor
With Facebook's recent accusations that Google has been somehow been secretly collecting information about people from Facebook and other social networks without their permission or their knowledge.
Examining Facebook's Smear Campaign Concerns about Google Social Circles is our post from last month that goes into details about those accusations.
How Google Knows About You
Still, it might not be clear to some Google users how something on a social network could end up being linked to them in Google results. The new tool, as Google explains in its blog post today, seems in part to help clarify that:
Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you, whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update. When someone searches for your name on a search engine like Google, the results that appear are a combination of information you've posted and information published by others.
Nothing above is new. Our online identities, even before the rise of Facebook, were defined by material placed on the web either by ourselves or by others.
What's the new tool exposing or helping with that is different. Not much, except maybe giving Google more cover if people complain that it has found some info about them from a social network.
Google Profiles & Me On The Web
Let's take a look at Me On The Web section:
On the left, there are a sample of links that are listed on my public profile page with Google.
Not everyone has a Google Profile page. You have to make one, and if you do, then only links you choose to add to them will be shown. Our article below explains more about this:
Hoping To Improve People Search, Google Launches Profile Results
Google Redesigns Google Profiles
In terms of Me On The Web, showing links from someone's Google Profile may enlighten them little (if they haven't added links to a profile) to nothing (if they have no profile) about who they are on the web. Plus, the links are focused on what an individual might be publishing, not what others might be publishing about that person.
Why bother showing this links area? For one, if you have created a Google Profile and linked up your various accounts, then it's a little more obvious that you've alerted Google to those accounts. Despite them often already being public in various ways, this potentially makes it harder for another company like Facebook to suggest that Google has somehow stumbled upon your social profiles.
Pushing The Google Profiles
Another reason is that it helps promote Google Profiles themselves. After all, consider what you see if you do not have a Google Profile:
No profile? Then Google urges you to create one to help control how you appear within Google search results.
This is also advice that Google offers if you select that How to manage your online identity link that's listed on the right side of the Me On The Web section:
The advantage of having a Google Profile? If you open that help topic, you're told:
With a Google profile, you can manage the information such as your bio, contact details, and other information about you that people see. You can also link to other sites about you or created by you. For example, you can link to your blog, online photos in Picasa, and other profiles such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Yes, you can manage the information on that page. Having that page might give you an additional listing in Google's top results, such as you see here in a search for Leo Laporte:
Me On The Web Another Social Tool?
Like I said, eventually, the +1 button needs to be hooked up into something that lets people follow what others are +12ing. Earlier this week, MG Siegler wrote a nice piece at TechCrunch on this, on how the Google +1 button isn't offering much of a treat to users.
I also covered this in my Has Facebook Become The Master Key To Unlocking The Web? story:
What's the bribe for visitors? Twitter's button makes it easy to share to friends and followers on Twitter. Facebook's buttons make it easy to do the same on Facebook.
Google +1 promises to maybe improve my search results and to make a list of things I like if my friends choose to go to my profile page on a regular basis to check and only if +1 tab is opened.
That's complicated and not particularly compelling. I think Google's going to need to up the offer for visitors, to get the clicking started. If it doesn't, it'll only win half the battle. It'll get space on sites, but it won't get the valuable social sharing data it wants.
I think Me on the Web is part of Google enlisting Google Profiles into the battle with Facebook.
Of course, I also think Google's trying to actually help educate people who view information that Google lists in it results somehow as information that Google has about them and want to control this. But I do think Google Profiles gets a boost in a new way, as part of this.
Removing Information & Alerts
Beyond the social networking aspects, Google's Me On The Web does provide a link with information on how people can get content removed from Google's listings. Don't get your hopes up, however. This can only be done in very limited cases, and our articles below explore this in great depth:
Removing Your Personal Information From Google
Removing Pages From Google: A Comprehensive Guide For Content Owners
The area also brings greater awareness of Google Alerts, a way to monitor what people may be saying about you online. Google Alerts, they're not just for Katy Perry, you know!
The Set up search alerts for your data link brings up a Manage Personal Alerts box:
That looks promising. It’ll even automatically search for your linked Google Gmail address, if you like.
But after hitting save, it doesn’t take you to the list of alerts you’ve created. If you use the link again, you’re also not shown previously created alerts. Nor does anything found appear in the “Me On The Web” dashboard area. You also don’t get the wider range of options that going directly to Google Alerts provides, such as to search just against news content.
Bottom line: if you want alerts about yourself, you’re probably better off going to Google Alerts directly.
Overall, maybe “Me On The Web” will develop into something more impressive. But right now, it seems less about telling you what Google knows about you from the web and more about helping Google understand who you are on the web.