Can Social Networks Infiltrate Search Engine Realm?

Search has evolved to something so well known that we cannot picture the Internet without search engines, but how long can this picture stay this way?  Search engines are necessary for everyone of us to discover and explore the massive tangled web.  Nonetheless, search engines can become rather painful to use when search results are stuffs of spams.  Recently, Google is facing tough questions from the New York Times for it allows JC Penney to manipulate the search results.  When search results can be manipulated, the manipulator is having all the advantages such as attracting more new customers to one’s website.  According to the source, it seems Google may not know about JC Penney’s black hat “SEO” methods and have since then removing the manipulative search results from JC Penney as the story broke, but we have to ask if JC Penney could do it — how many others have done so?

Why are we even care?  As web-citizens, we should care about the search engine’s ability to keep useful search results visible and prevent the trashes to inundate or push the useful search results farther down the list.  When too many companies and webmasters are able to manipulate the search engines, web-citizens like ourselves will not be able to find what we are looking for.  This is why search engines can become useless when search results are easily manipulated.

We can bet Google and Bing will try their best to come up with better algorithms so they can prevent spammers from manipulating search results.  Still, since the genie is already out of the bottle, we have to ask ourselves maybe search could be done better?  This is how we all advance our technology by asking obvious questions.  To me, no question is a stupid question!  So I imagine up ways of how to reinvent search, but only one way has come to mind that could be a death knell for tradition search engines such as Google.

So what is it?  It’s all about social network really!  Imagine search engine can be weaved into social networks such as FaceBook in a way that makes search more credible.  Let say when a friend of friend or a friend of your was searching for something, that something was found to be useful beyond just being found, a method was devised for your friend so he or she could mark such a search result as useful result.  Search results can be more credible naturally since these come from your friends’ search history/cache.

I can already hear you say that won’t work!  What if someone has only one friend, and that one friend rarely uses the search function.  Which means you won’t have any credible search result history/cache to depend on.  This is where I have to retract what I’ve said before about Google’s death knell.  Google can be around forever if people are going to use it, but FaceBook can overtake Google in popularity someday if FaceBook decides to allow its members to be able to use the search feature I’ve suggested above in combination with the traditional search features that are similar to what Google are now carrying.

So what is really the point?  The point is that when search results are more credible, the search functionality becomes more useful;  spam search results won’t find their ways easily to your search result list when you try to search for something on the Internet.  Even if the spam search results do manage to infiltrate your search result list, there should be an algorithm to prevent spam search results from appear at the top of the list.  We know such algorithm can be devise easily if social networks such as FaceBook decide to place all relevant search results from friends of friends or your friends on the top of the list, giving little chance for spam search results to overtake the top positions of the search result list.

I can already hear you say you don’t like it, because you don’t want anyone else to know what you were searching for on the Internet.  Privacy concerns can be addressed too!  What if social networks such as FaceBook decide to make all search results to be anonymous and even allow a member to opt out of the feature so friends cannot tap into your search history/cache.  Anonymous, you say?  Yes, anonymous in a way that when a member has too many friends, he or she cannot tell which friend was searching for what by looking at his or her search result list.  This means there is no list of names to compare to the list of search results.  In case if you know you only have one friend in the entire social network, and you decide not to want such a friend to know of your search results, you can always opt out of the feature so your only friend won’t be able to determine what you had searched for on the Internet.  Also, in case your only friend should assume that his search results were your, there should be a big bold red notification somewhere that he or she could see easily, notifying him or her that you have chose not to allow your search results to be shared.

I fear social networks such as FaceBook may one day or probably have already thinking about doing such a thing, and Google may have to be even more clever so its search engine won’t be outdated.  Google makes tons of money from its search engine!  Therefore, it is safe to say Google is probably sweating right now for social networks such as FaceBook may change the game eventually.  I don’t pretend I know what popular social networks such as FaceBook will eventually do, but I like to say — I smell something in the air which is quite suspicious!


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