You may have heard some fuss the last couple of days about Google changing how it performs its searches.   This becomes big news because Google is the strongest search engine on the block and a lot of people rely upon it daily.

Before I can explain what has happened, I need to explain Google Circles.   You are familiar with Facebook, which is a social networking sites.  You define friends and you see what they post. Due to the success of Facebook, Google introduced something called Google Circles.  It was a new social networking approach where users could focus their posts to particular groups of people.  This allows users to post one group of messages to family, another to business associates and still another to social friends.  Your messages about the holiday gatherings, new photos of the children, and stories about your dog only go to your relatives, while your weekend exploits only go to your friends.  In principle it seems like an improved system (to which Facebook responded quickly), but it is falling out of favor because it is yet another place where one must check for information.

There are lots of problems with Facebook and privacy, but the vast majority of Facebook posts and photos do not appear as results in Google searches.  The Google people decided that searching that kind of information would be useful to its users, so they introduced “personal results.”  These personal results appear at the top of the searches and there are icons out to the right that allows you to control them.   The default is to get the personalized searches.  Below is the result that I get if I enter “Google changes” into the search engine.

Results of a Search on "Google changes" with Personalization

Next to the word “search” you’ll see that I can get 100 “personal results.”  These results are

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