Google has been including search results from your social circle for quite a while. If you are logged in to a Google account it sometimes includes a box either at the bottom or in the middle of your search results page with a couple of “Results from people in your social circle”:
Click on the link and it will show you more from your circle.
If you are using Google.com and open up the search options in the side bar to the left of your results there is a “Social” option that will do exactly the same thing.
Want to know who is in your social circle? Head straight to your Google dashboard at http://www.google.com/dashboard and scroll down to Social Circle. This not only tells you which of your social networks Google is using but also lists who.
Any social networks that you have mentioned in, for example, your Blogger profile or your general Google profile such as Twitter will be included as will contacts in Google Reader, Google Buzz, Google Contacts and Picasa. In addition to your direct connections Google also searches the content of secondary connections that are publicly associated with your direct connections. The A-Z reveals all!
Until now the Social option has been kept separate but Google has started integrating all of these results with the rest of your search starting with Google.com (see Official Google Blog: An update to Google Social Search
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/update-to-google-social-search.html). So if you are using Google.com and are logged into your Google account you will now start seeing results automatically from your social circle.
Underneath the social search entry it will say something like “Joe Bloggs shared this on Twitter”. Hover over this and it tell you how you are connected.
I frequently use social media to search for information and advice but I much prefer to choose when and how to do it. I do not always want Google unilaterally deciding to add opinions from all and sundry in my network. Remember, this is not just the direct connections that you have chosen to make but others who are connected to them and over which you have no control. The only way you can shut this off completely is to log out of your Google account. I will reserve final judgement until I have used it more but after only 2 hours of experimentation I am already finding that some searches are dominated by results from Twitter, Google Reader and Flickr. The results look even more cluttered than before and I fear it gives Google even more opportunity to completely mess up the search.