The fallout over Google’s personalized “Search, plus Your World” feature continues as engineers from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace have created a browser add-on that not only negates the effects of Google+-centric search, but borrows Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto for its name.
The Don’t Be Evil code is available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari, with the explanation that the code “looks at the three places where Google only shows Google+ results and then automatically googles Google to see if Google finds a result more relevant than Google+.” Essentially, they say, the tool uses Google’s own metrics, but applies them to social networks outside of Google+:
If Google decides that it’s relevant to surface a Google+ page as a result in any of the areas where Google+ content is hardcoded, the tool searches Google for the name of the Google+ page. Then, the tool identifies the social profiles within the first ten pages of Google results (top 100 results). The ones Google ranks highest — whether they are from Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Quora, Tumblr, Foursquare, Crunchbase, FriendFeed, Stack Overflow, Github or Google+ — replace the previous results that could only be from Google+.
When “Search, plus Your World” was launched, Google defended itself from accusations of Google+ favoritism by saying that other social networks would need to provide more insight into their systems to be integrated fully. But in the FAQ section for the Don’t Be Evil code and its accompanying “bookmarklet,” the creators address this idea by saying, “This is clearly not true. The bookmarklet never accesses any server or API outside of google.com. The information has already been indexed and ranked by Google.”
Although not an official Facebook, Twitter or Myspace release, the site describes the code as the work of “some engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, in consultation with several other social networking companies.” The Guardian identifies the code’s creator as Blake Ross, director of product at Facebook, though a spokesperson for the company said, “We aren’t commenting on details of this project aside from pointing people to the public site.”
Google has yet to respond to the code or the accusations implicit in its launch, name and accompanying website.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.