Google is taking Googling yourself to a whole new level, by folding users’ personal data into Google search results. The personalized search results pull data from users’ Google accounts such as Picasa and Google+, and offers users the option to toggle between searching their own personal data and searching the Web as a whole.
Amit Singhal, a Google fellow and software engineer, said that the new tool redefines search by incorporating users’ personal information into everyday search queries. This is most obvious in the personalized Image Search, which allows users to look through their own pictures that have been shared with them on Google’s other programs, such as social media and sharing sites. An image search for “John Doe,” for example, would bring up pictures of your friend or colleague John Doe, as opposed to others who may share his name.
Other search queries will also return links personally relevant to a given user based on the user’s social networks. Google will also suggest People and Pages from Google+ that are related to search queries.
If you’re not interested in seeing personal results for a particular search query, you can use a new Google toggle switch to eliminate all personalized results. Users can also use this switch to search only their own personal results without results from the public Web.
Singhal said that Google has made user security and privacy a top priority in working out this program. The company will put all search results under secure HTTPS protocol, so that, Singhal said, “no one can snoop your results page.” He said that users will also have plenty of notification when they are looking at personal search results and are able to fully opt out of the program.
When asked why Google chose to make the program opt-out instead of opt-in, Singhal said: “At Google, our job is to return the most relevant answers, and sometimes good answers are in your personal content. Like we have done time and time again, we extensively test the new experience and launch it as an opt-out.”