Earlier this week, Google announced that it has begun integrating real-time search into its regular search results. Incidentally, Rae Hoffman, CEO and Co-Founder of Outspoken Media, began playing with the new feature and discovered some alarming results.
The first concern Hoffman noticed is a spam issue. Upon tweeting about Viagra, she found that her results were showing up in Google’s results. She was even able to drop links into her tweets that people could access directly from Google.
Secondly, Hoffman uncovered reputation management issues with Google’s new integration. An unhappy employee or competitor could easily damage a company’s reputation. During a session at SES Chicago, Dave Naylor even mentioned that he might have to clean up his Twitter stream over fear of losing business.
Thirdly and probably the most serious of the issues Hoffman revealed is the safety concerns for children online. Through a series of tests including the highest level of safe search, Hoffman was able to reach out to kids who searched for queries such as Sesame Street and Miley Cyrus. Unfortunately, sexual predators could easily do the same. Scary, huh?
There were actually even more discoveries Hoffman was able to uncover that she did not disclose.
Many people believe Google rushed its real-time integration to respond to the recent real-time efforts Bing has made. Hoffman predicts that Google will either have bad results for a while as they fix their problems, or admit they made a mistake and deal with a reputation management problem.