“All this data that people are sharing potentially allows social networks to gather this information and use it in interesting ways,” said Augie Ray, analyst at Forrester Research. “When you are looking for a movie recommendation, what you want to know is what people like you think. A bunch of kids who rate Twilight with five stars is no use to me. What about middle-aged men who have shown an interest in art films? What are they watching?” Another big threat to Google is the fact that much of this information will not appear in a Google search. Google wants everything to be open and searchable, the more information it can mine the more useful it becomes.
Facebook is a walled garden — you sign in to your account and can choose the what, how and who of what you share. Inside Facebook the attitude to Google seems spookily similar to Google’s attitude to Microsoft. The company would not comment for this story. “We don’t typically opine on the findings of third-party research firms,” said a spokesman. But privately, the gloves are off. “Google is not representative of the future of technology in any way,” one Facebook veteran said to Wired magazine, the industry bible, last year. “Facebook is an advanced communications network enabling myriad communication forms. It almost doesn’t make sense to compare them.”