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Google allows searchers to '+1' their results

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Google has introduced a “+1 button,” a social function that allows users to indicate they like a particular search result or to see results ordered according to recommendations made by friends. The launch also demonstrates that Google plans to take on Facebook in the social space for online ad dollars.

The button is similar to Facebook's “like” function, in that users with a Google account can show which search results they want to recommend to friends and family. Consumers can opt to use the function or not, and can similarly choose to publicly display items they have chosen or keep them private. Google said the button will be embeddable on individual sites and pages, but for now it only shows up on search results pages. 

Mashable's Jolie O'Dell calls the product launch “a clear shot across Facebook's bow.” However, she made a clear distinction between the ways that Facebook collects data and Google's plan.

“Facebook gathers data based on user-submitted profile information. Google has to rely on roundabout ways to get data for ad targeting,” she said. “And some of those methods, including cookies that track browsing behavior, are coming under fire from citizens and governments.”

O'Dell added that Facebook also beats Google, by a full 9%, when it comes to US online ad spending.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in September that the company will add layers of social capabilities “in the fall,” and it seems +1 is a major step towards a more social foundation for the company. Schmidt, who will leave the CEO post to become executive chairman on April 4, has said he favors a more open platform for searching the Web and believes social elements should remain part of this open system.

Conversely, Facebook's product offerings in the past year, ranging from development of an email platform to partnerships with movie distribution companies to stream video content through the social network, indicates a desire to keep users within the Facebook platform rather than go elsewhere for content or services. 

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