Google's new "like" button tells your friends which search results you endorse. Here's how to sign up, and why you should be wary.
Google is trying hard to move in on Facebook's social sharing territory. Yesterday, it unveiled the "Plus One" button. It's pretty much the same as the Facebook "Like" button, except it's for Google searches. When you click the "Plus One" button next to your Google search results, your friends will see that you've endorsed it on their own results.
If you want to start "plus oneing" things—yes Google is already using "plus one" as a verb, see video below—you have to opt in to the "experiment" here. If you're a regular Google user, you've probably noticed that some search results already have an extra line at the bottom telling you a Twitter or Facebook friend has mentioned that link. This new feature lets you annotate searches you want to share right there on the Google page, without actually cutting and pasting into Facebook or Twitter.
All of this social search information is enticing ambient information on your friends' lives, but the actual benefit of this feature is that "Plus Ones" are data that can help guide your clicking in a cluttered web world. Well, that's the theory anyway.
Google writes on its blog:
Say, for example, you’re planning a winter trip to Tahoe, Calif. When you do a search, you may now see a +1 from your slalom-skiing aunt next to the result for a lodge in the area. Or if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate. And even if none of your friends are baristas or caffeine addicts, we may still show you how many people across the web have +1’d your local coffee shop.\n
One useful way the "Plus One" is different from the "Like" button is that, over time, your "Plus Ones" will be archived as a kind of bookmarks file of endorsed searches. So you can check back on all the links you've endorsed this way.
And so can everyone else, unless you set your privacy setting right. So, like everything else in social media, "Plus One" (as a verb) with care.
Right now, you'll only see "Plus Ones" from people connected to you through Google contacts, like gchat or gmail, but the company may soon expand that to Twitter or other sites, they say. To find out just how public your Google search result endorsements will be, go to the Google Dashboard and check your connections and your settings.
Your network is probably much bigger than you think. That's fine if you want to become a web-lebrity brand. But not so great for job hunters with a few private hobbies best left off the C.V.