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Google Social Search Reaches Beta

It just got easier to tap the wisdom of your friends online.

Google on Wednesday moved its Social Search experiment from Google Labs to beta status, meaning that it's now a mainstream search option for anyone who believes that the fetishes and fascinations of friends will make Google search results more relevant.

The beta label will remain for a while, the company said, because there's still work to do. The re-branded Social Search will be available in English, though perhaps not immediately everywhere -- Google said it could take a few days to roll out.

Google introduced Social Search last October after several years of dipping its toes in the social waters through various forms of search personalization.

Its public commitment to Social Search occurred at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, an event at which Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg declared, "There is a very fundamental shift going on from the information Web to the social Web."

Social Search on Google requires a Google Account and a Google Profile. Users who fill out their Profiles with contact information or add links in their Profiles to other social Internet services, such as Blogger, Twitter, and the like, have the option of seeing what their online associates have posted when it relates to a given search.

Google has extended Social Search to include Google Images, a move that simplifies finding photos shared by friends through services like Flickr and Picasa Web Albums.

The company has added two new Social Search links, labeled "My social circle" and "My social content," that make it easier to see how one's friends fit into Social Search and to see how one's own public pages may appear to friends using Social Search.

Evidently oblivious to the lack of privacy implied by Social Search, Google on Thursday said it was celebrating Data Privacy Day by publishing the privacy principles under which it has been operating.

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