8 Social Likes That You May Not Want To See In The Search Results

Martin Brinkmann
May 20, 2011
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Internet, Search

Both Bing and Google are dead serious that search engine users want a search that is more social, that weaves recommendation's, likes and personal messages into the results. This change is happening right now, as both Bing and Google are already adding social recommendations in their search results.

The two search engines may promote results to the first page simply because they have been "liked" by a person from the searcher's social circle.

But are those likes and recommendations always helpful? That's highly doubtful. Even worse, what if you see recommendations that you never wanted to get in first place? Here is a top 8 of recommendations and likes that you do not want to see, ever in the search results.

  • Diseases:
  • Sexual Preferences
  • Shopping
  • Financial
  • Relationship
  • Criminal
  • Drugs
  • Tasteless

Want some examples? How about finding out that your dad has a thing for BDSM and your mom loves that sex store around the corner? How about a husband that recommends a divorce attorney website, or a friend who is liking hemorrhoid treatment websites?

Still not convinced? How about finding out that your fiancee likes an ex-con forum, that your parents like a site where people file for bankruptcy or that your wife likes a forum where parents discuss cuckold childs?

There are many possibilities where likes and recommendations can backfire. You obviously do not get recommendations for something from your social circle if a person of that circle has not "liked" a page or site. And it means at the same time that you need to search for a similar theme or topic to find those recommendations in the search engines.

Another aspect that needs to be considered is that you may see those recommendations and likes on the social networking site as well. Even if you do not search for it, you may see it in your dashboard there.

This suggests that it is not inherently a issue brought up by the search engines. They may however act as catalysts.

For now, all you need to do to avoid getting those recommendations is to avoid logging in while searching on Bing or Google. The likes are tied to your account. In the future, search engines might use all recommendations to present sites to you even if you are not logged in or use social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook at all. You may not see people you know then in the search results, but you may get a message like "15% of all users recommend xyz" or something like that.

What about you? Do you think there need to be boundaries when it comes to displaying likes and recommendations? If so, what are they?


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Jack said on May 21, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Once again, we’re being pushed towards social networking solutions we don’t want for problems we don’t have. And doubtless, like so many other online social initiatives, many people will blithely come to regard these latest moves as a natural necessity rather than a sad intrusion.

    I don’t want this kind of stuff in my search results – not because of any risk of social embarrassment – but quite simply because I don’t need it, didn’t ask for it, and don’t WANT it. Period.

    I’m quite capable of generating an efficient search query to find the stuff I actually want. To do that, however, I need good search engines, not cynical exercises in social engineering by commerce.

    Hopefully, some bright people will come up with yet more addons to block yet more garbage in Google and Bing that we didn’t ask for and don’t want.

    1. JohnMWhite said on May 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      I agree with all of this, and I definitely do not like the proposal. It is intrusive, annoying and unnecessary, and I think describing it as a solution we don’t want to a problem we don’t have is pretty apt. I just think this article’s focus is missing that point for the more headline-friendly idea that you might be ‘exposed’ by Google for having embarrassing or unsavoury preferences, as though it isn’t your own fault for putting those preferences in the public domain to begin with. There are many problems with this idea, but user stupidity is not something we can really blame Google for.

  2. JohnMWhite said on May 21, 2011 at 3:40 am

    My name’s John, the ‘Michael’ comes from my email address which this site says will not be published but I assume you have access to, so thanks for being so concerned for my privacy. But anyway, that exact same situation can occur on Facebook or any other social site. If you would be embarrassed about someone finding out you liked something, it’s probably not a good idea to publicly like it on the internet. I do agree, though, that a switch to block your likes and recommendations from appearing is a good idea, but then one has to wonder why you would like stuff and then not want anyone to see your likes and recommendations. Still, more privacy control is always a good thing.

  3. JohnMWhite said on May 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I’m not sure I see the issue here. Surely if a fiancée ‘likes’ an ex-con forum or something of that nature, that the other party finds out about it is entirely her fault for being daft enough to like it while logged in to her account while having her fiancé as a contact? I don’t think it is any different than if it appeared in his Facebook feed, other than the guy would have to be searching for something similar first and might not be expecting social content in his results. Otherwise, is it not pretty much the same as recklessly liking something or making some comment on a social network while forgetting who can see your profile?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 20, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      Michael, I agree with that but would like to point out that your past likes may be haunting you in the search engines. Say you liked something and made a person your friend some time later. That person may have never found out about the past likes otherwise. My personal gripe with it is that I cannot flip a switch to block all my likes and recommendations from appearing in my friend’s search results. Well, other than not liking anything at all, that is.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.