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Google stalks your social circle

All in the name of friendship, you understand

Google took its beach towel down to the social networking pool yesterday with the release of its latest Facebook-apeing Web 2.0-stylie search tool.

Mountain View announced a new Google Labs experiment - dubbed “Social Search” - that creepily helps users probe more “relevant public content” from their “broader social circle”. The company has already been improving search results to make them more personally tailored to an individual surfer’s stalker needs.

“With Social Search, Google finds relevant public content from your friends and contacts and highlights it for you at the bottom of your search results,” said Google in a blog post.

The tool allows users to see search results for a simple query, such as New York, that includes any friends that might have referenced the city in their blog. Social Search can also be filtered so that only results of content from a person’s “social circle” are shown.

In a move to silence privacy critics of Social Search, Google pointed out that all the information it pools together via the tool was already “published publicly on the web”.

“What we've done is surface that content together in one single place to make your results more relevant,” it said.

Google has stitched a user’s friends and contacts list into a public Google profile, which grabs info from the likes of Twitter. Anyone interested in using the tool needs to first sign up to a Google account - if they don’t have one already, that is.

“If you use Gmail, we'll also include your chat buddies and contacts in your friends, family, and coworkers groups. And if you use Google Reader, we'll include some websites from your subscriptions as part of your social search results,” said the firm. ®

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