Google News Starts Testing A Social Layer: Twitter

There’s a lot of speculation about Google’s upcoming stab at social (take 15, or so, for those keeping track at home). The most recent talk has Google adding a social layer to all of their properties to tie them all together. One such property is actually already trying out such a layer — but it’s a social layer run by Twitter.

As Search Engine Land points out, Google News is currently in the process of testing out a new Twitter integration that allows you to have a new “Friends” column which is populated with stories your friends tweet out. To enable this, you simply enter your Twitter username into a box, and Google will go out and crawl your (public) Twitter friends to see what links they’re sharing.

Here’s Google’s rundown of how this experimental feature works:

Friends is an experimental section in the side column that helps you find news articles that your friends are sharing on Twitter.

In the open text box, enter your Twitter username and click “Save.” Google News will refresh, and you will see a list of updates containing news articles shared by the people you follow. Please note that Friends only shows you articles that can be found in Google News. If someone you follow has shared an article or a link that cannot be found in Google News, then you will not see that update in the Friends section.

To change the username you wish to follow, click on “Edit.” Enter the new username in the text field and click “Save changes.”

Google’s search deal with Twitter undoubtedly makes this feature possible. But it will be interesting to see if this test ever sees the full light of day, especially after Google’s social layer launches. It’s a good idea — not unlike what Flipboard and a host of other services do — and it could make Google News, which is typically slow and relatively stale, full of fresh content.

Google’s Marrisa Mayer has made it very clear that she loves Twitter — though she won’t comment on half-jokes about when Google will attempt to buy them. And new Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (who used to work at Google along with founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone) is adamant that they won’t sell. Still, that seems like it would be a pretty killer social layer…

Update: Twitter confirms that Google is able to implement such a feature because they have full access to the firehose of data.

[image: twitpic/jarid lukin]