Google introduces +1

Google today finally took the wraps off its much-anticipated +1 social media tool, which will allow users to recommend search results to friends and other Google contacts. Although the tool (pronounced Plus One) is free of any central social network, it is being positioned by Google as an important step forward in connecting Google account users outside of closed platforms such as Gmail.

Here’s how it works. Say, for example, you’re planning a winter trip to Tahoe, CA. When you do a search, you may now see a “+1” from a friend next to the result for a ski lodge in the area. Looking for somewhere for a romantic dinner for two in New York? Google will show you results that have been +1’d by friends and other contacts.

Google says it will use a series of “signals” to decide which +1’s to show you. It will start with your Google chat buddies and contacts, but could soon incorporate other sources, such as your connections on Twitter “to make sure your recommendations are as relevant as possible.”

If +1 sounds a lot like Facebook’s “Like” button, that’s because it is. However, Google suggests that the real value of +1’s is their relevance – you get the right recommendations (from people that matter to you) at the right time (when you’re actually looking for information about that topic).

Perhaps still smarting from the PR mess and FTC inquiry that followed the introduction of its Buzz social network, Google is making +1 entirely opt-in, hoping that people will jump on board quickly enough to make it widespread and relevant. Users will be able to keep track of all their +1 recommendations and can control who they share +1’s with through their Google Dashboard.

Google will be slowly rolling out the service over the next several weeks. If you want to start seeing +1’s right away, then you can opt-in to the launch by visiting Google’s experimental search site. Initially, +1’s will only appear alongside Google search results and ads, but Google hopes that +1 buttons will start appearing in many more place, including other Google products and many more sites across the web.

Comment by Robyn Wright of Robyn's Online World, posted 4/1/2011, 7:44 AM:

I'm not sold on 1 at this point. Why do I need yet another way to tell my friends about something? It seems like it would feel more about tracking ME rather than sharing for some reason.
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