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See How Well Google Knows Your Circle of Friends (google.com)
92 points by sidwyn 2630 days ago | hide | past | web | 32 comments | favorite

Your social circle as determined by Google is currently a blank slate. – excellent.

A well aimed arrow if ever there was one

Google is missing the thing that Facebook does well here, "identifying real people". [0] When I looked at the "Friends" google identified it was really just connections I'd made with Twitter, flickr and various other services. Very few I'd met or consider a friend. Parsing data to find friends isn't as good as being sucked into the human "social graph".

Identifying real people is a core concept at Facebook. and something they have got right (identity) and google will find difficult to replicate.

[0] I wouldn't have realised this point as quickly had I not read "The Facebook Effect" ~ http://www.amazon.com/Facebook-Effect-Inside-Company-Connect... which despite its flaws gives some useful insights. Excerpt: http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/06/facebook-david-kirkpatrick/

The title of this post probably mislead you, but identifying friends is just a subset of what Google is trying to do here.

If I'm searching for a good online backup service I care more about the opinions of people I follow on twitter than those of my non-technical friends and family, etc.

Good point I hadn't considered the real purpose of the service. But one thing I can't understand is why google - the kings of simple - want to include such messy data? When I see "do more" I smell failure.

Google doesn't mind messy data at all. Their goal is to get more data, even if it's not perfect. If they can get massive amounts of data, their statistical accuracy will improve.

Not much, apparently.

It knows my Twitter network, of course, and that's helpful for search results (someone I follow on Twitter blogging about some arcane JRuby tidbit I'm searching for is great).

If this is what Google's leaning on for their new social graph stuff, though, they're in trouble: it knew very little about my real-life friends. In other words, the friends that Facebook knows about. You can't glean that from Gmail contacts necessarily, since I don't really use email for that type of correspondence. If they really do want to flesh out a social graph of their own to combat Facebook, they have to roll their own social network. Maybe it's coming, maybe it's not; I just think they're only getting part of the picture right now.

My Facebook network is not my real social network. It mostly contains people i know, not the ones i interact with. My real social network is in my Android powered phone. I am waiting for a better merge with the contacts on my phone and the rest of social circles.

Returns the same old bogus "I emailed them once" people listed in my Google chat, apart from one person. Since I haven't given Google or YouTube my Facebook info it can't be so accurate.

128 Direct connections that include all of my close friends.

121 Direct connections from links... which duplicate some of my close friends and then contain a load of bogus entries I don't recognise. These are all based on Flickr apparently.

3905 Secondary connections that do contain acquaintances, some good friends and lots of people I don't recognise.

It didn't do a bad job, but given that I use Google Chat and Calendar to organise stuff, that I use Google Contacts because of Android and that I have a lot of history in Google (email loaded from 1996) I'm not surprised that they have such a complete picture.

Edit: Just read up on it... it's figured out so much as I'd added sites to my Google Profile and it's followed those to determine the rest.

Google doesn't have a lot of content about my friends. In fact, none, other than some names, many of which I don't even recognize.

But, interestingly, I got a 404 when I logged out.


Edit: actually, I can't log out. Fascinating, I know.

Yep - logout is broken for me there.

Just go to some other Google site (docs, gmail, maps) and logout from there.

My problem with the Social Circle stuff is that it apparently never ever removes anyone that it’s pulled in through external services.

People I haven’t followed on Twitter or Flickr in a year still show up in the ‘Direct connections from links that appear on your Google profile’ section.

386 secondary connections. Impressive. Is there an API to access these infos?

Yes, it's the Social Graph API: http://code.google.com/apis/socialgraph/docs/

Great, thanks!

So, my questions are will this be used to alter search results - eg this person is well connected in this field and regularly visits these domains, hence we'll add a bit of authority to those domains? Seems they should probably try it.

Also are they using meta data like XFN and microformats to garner some of the data or is it just internal Google social links?

The part that uses the Social Graph API: http://code.google.com/apis/socialgraph/docs/ is based on crawling XFN rel="blah" links from all over the web. The canonicalisation layer that's used is opensource: http://code.google.com/p/google-sgnodemapper/

It doesn't know much and what it knows is based on one other person who is connected to many other things. Poor Google.

I wish I could turn this off or edit it, it's a bit creepy and never really shows me anything relevant.

It's all based on public data gathered using this: http://code.google.com/apis/socialgraph/docs/

You can always just edit your contacts on the original sites where the information came from and either wait for a recrawl or force a recrawl using: https://sgapi-recrawl.appspot.com/

Some of it is from people I've exchanged emails with over GMail, which shouldn't be public data, unless Google has leaked it out somehow.

Did you see this: http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&... especially the bit about the difference between Public and Private connections?

I'm sorry my point is that I don't want to see private connection results myself in addition to no one else seeing them.

Yeah... I just stumbled on that recently (like 5 minutes before) in a google search was doing. Wild. Too bad google seems to really only know one of my connections and all that they are linked to. Also too bad that that connection is really a weak one to me.

My "secondary connections" seem to be a bunch of cosmetic companies.

Mine are a bunch of restaurants, again all through one primary connection.

Considering that I am the ONLY person on Facebook with my firstname/lastname, and that my 522 Facebook friends are publicly accessible, how and why is Google not indexing Facebook? Is it just a matter of pride?

Do FB allow that sort of indexing in their ToS?

Mine are all museums and photography sites. But then, they're all through a single contact, who's a professional photographer.

Guess my friends are tight-lipped with Google.

6 people... not impressive at all.


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