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Google graduates social stalking tool

Search sniffs out friends and family stuff

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Google's social network stalking aid has graduated from the company's experimental Labs site to prime-time on Google.com.

In the next few days, with its Social Search tool, Google will let English-language users scour for publicly-available content produced by friends and online contacts .

To use social search, users need to sign on to Google and link their account with the various profiles they have on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. Once Google is acquainted with the social circle, it can harvest their relevant content in query results.

Two new links - "My Social Circle" and "My Social Content" - will let users see the connections and content behind social results, Google said on its company blog.

In addition to being included on the main page, Social Search will also now work in Google Images by sniffing out photos and pictures published from contacts on sites like Picasa Web Albums and Flickr.

Google said that because it envisions several additions to Social Search in the future, it's putting a "beta" tag on the service - which, considering Google's history with such things, could remain there a good long while.

"We think there's tremendous potential for social information to improve search, and we're just beginning to scratch the surface," Google said. ®

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