Google is apparently testing the integration of Twitter within Google News, according to a report from Search Engine Land, which in turn was based on a tip from a reader who apparently saw the experiment in action and posted a snapshot of what it looked like on Twitter. The feature adds a small box to the right-hand side of the page that allows users to login with their Twitter credentials and then “see when people you follow are talking about the news.” Search Engine Land even found a help page about the experiment. The description of the feature says that it will allow users to “find news articles that your friends are sharing on Twitter,” but notes that the new Friends section will only show articles that can be found in Google News.
“If someone you follow has shared an article or a link that cannot be found in Google News, then you will not see that update in the Friends section,” it states. It’s not clear from the description whether the links that Google parses for the feature will include blogs or only traditional mainstream news sources. When you do a search on Google News, the “blogs” category is one of the filters you can choose from the left-hand column, but those articles aren’t included in the typical Google News home-page layout.
In comments last month about Google’s plans to become more social, CEO Eric Schmidt said the company wasn’t planning to launch any kind of massive Facebook competitor, as some had speculated, but intended to add “a social layer” to its existing services by pulling in data from places like Facebook and Twitter. The experiment with Google News appears to be part of that plan, although whether it will make it to prime time or not — and whether people will actually use it — remains to be seen
Google has made a number of enhancements to try to make its news offering more social, including a redesign earlier this year that added a section called “News For You,” and also allows users to give news sources a thumbs up vote, from which the Google algorithm is supposed to learn what they like. The initial response from readers was negative, however, so it will be interesting to see what the reaction is to Twitter integration. Among the other ways of reading news links that are recommended by your followers on Twitter are the Paper.li service (which I wrote about here), as well as Twitter Times and a new service called Tumbl.in.