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Google, Facebook, and User Data: Some Thoughts

I happened to read this article in Mormon Times about finding family history with Google's image search. It's only the tip of the iceberg of how people can use Google for finding various things. Today, Google is not just a search engine. It's an inevitable global service. Through it, we can find, or rather we hope to, almost everything anyone ever shared online.

With Web expanding at its extreme pace now and people from everywhere sharing text and multimedia in the public sector, finding any type of information from anywhere should be pretty easy through Google. The book, Google Your Family Tree goes through this extreme usefulness of the search engine.

However, social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut of Google itself are also highly pervasive, and are used by millions of people for the sole purpose of sharing multimedia data. But any of those data is not accessible through a search engine, which is entirely an external entity that cant't access or view details of a user profile without password. So, Google can't index any shared data within Facebook or MySpace.

Within Facebook itself, unlike MySpace or Orkut, you cannot view even the basic profile information of anyone without being confirmed as his friend. This makes things even worse. The data is secure here, the data which we want to share to the world. Even if we relax the security a bit, the data is not going to go out of the network.

If your family members share pics through Facebook, how would you be able to find them by Googling?

It's more or less a recommendation that the social network data be available to search engines for crawling. Without authentication information, listing certain amount of information is harmless. List your views through the comments.

Some Cool Google Functions

Did you know that these Google functions existed?

  • To know local time of a place: "Local time" <place name> [works for most of the major cities]
  • To do mathematical calculations: Google the formula (eg: "5+7=")
  • To know the weather of a place: "Weather for" <place name>
  • To search definition of a term: define:<the term> (no space after colon).
  • To convert currency: example: "10 AUD in INR" [it's good to know the currency short forms]
  • To know the world leaders: "President of India"

And there are many more such Google tricks. If you like it, we can post about them in the future.


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