Yandex, Russia’s biggest Internet search and related services company, this morning announced the launch of a ‘social search program’ (note: links to page in Russian), aiming to inject content and account information from a wide variety of local and international social networks into its search results over time.
Of course, Yandex says the program will “enhance its search engine’s quality”, but there’s always a fine privacy line to walk with these types of features, and the possibility of users getting spooked by the new functionality is high indeed.
Yandex says it currently processes over two million people searches on a daily basis, although roughly half of those are apparently reserved for celebrities.
Anyway, the huge amount of searches for people has prompted Yandex to roll out its ‘people finder’ service in beta. Basically, it enables Yandex users in Russia to access and filter all public profiles of a person with accounts on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, VKontakte, LiveJournal, Odnoklassniki and the like.
And what if there are – gasp – multiple people with the same name?
Alexander Chubinskiy, Project Manager at Yandex, explains:
“It is so much more convenient to see multiple profiles of the same person grouped together. Yandex does this grouping with care – only those profiles that refer to one another get grouped. Web users can choose if they want their profiles on different websites to appear in search results separately, or as grouped together.”
Yandex is quick to point out that it will only show profiles from social networking sites that are already public and thus available for indexation by search engines, but let’s face it, how many people are readily aware of what parts of their digital life are showing and which ones are shielded from public gawking?
Yandex says it has indexed about 250 million personal profile pages to date.