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Google has launched a +1 button for Google Profiles, in what could be the search giant's first light tread into social search. Google Ads will now include the +1 button, and expect the button to show up in a variety of places, both on Google and on sites across the Web. The company will be giving site owners the option to add +1 button to their sites at some stage. In order to +1 things, we first need a public Google profile. The +1's are stored in a new tab on Google profiles. These tabs can be made public or private.

Google's search results will be affected by the +1s. "Your +1's and your social connections also help improve the content you see in Google Search," says Google's Help articles on +1. What 'social connections', did you say? Your social connections include people in your Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list, people you are following in Google Reader and Google Buzz, people in your My Contacts (in Google Contacts), people you are connected to through social sites (such as Twitter), and people who are public connections of your immediate, public social connections. Google looks at your social connections to determine who to show your +1's to and which +1's might be useful to you.

Regardless of whether you chose to publicly share your +1's tab, your +1's will still be visible to others viewing the content you +1'd. For instance, your +1 could appear as part of an anonymous aggregated count of the people who have also +1'd the same thing. Privacy watchdogs will be watching Google like a hawk (pardon my mixed metaphors) , so a repeat of the Buzz fiasco will be unlikely. Besides, the company has agreed to have independent privacy audits over the next twenty years.

If the +1 button feels suspiciously similar to Facebook's 'Like' button, you are bang on target. Do not however expect Facebook to be part of Google's +1 anytime soon. Apart from the fact that the companies are proving to be bitter rivals, Facebook is a closed system, and Google's +1 moves beyond walled gardens to the world wide Web.

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