Just how deep is Google's hold on the minds of the world's netizens? So deep that if the web giant boosts a news story about Facebook and logins to the top of its search results, myriad net surfers will mistake the news story for the Facebook login page, wondering why they can't login to it and why it looks nothing like Facebook.
On Wednesday, ReadWriteWeb published a piece about a new Facebook-AOL partnership that will let users integrate their Facebook "friends" with AOL's Instant Messenger, allowing communication between the two services. The story went on to wonder if Facebook was becoming a central point of web interaction, and in a nod to this bit of editorial, the headline read: "Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login."
Well, it would seem that this headline soon shot to the top of Google's search results for "Facebook login," and though we can only assume the link was grouped with the "news" results, comments posted the ReadWriteWeb story indicate that many Facebookers visited the story in an attempt to login to Facebook.
"Ok, cool. Now can I get to facebook?" one surfer posted.
"The new facebook sucks. NOW LET ME IN," wrote another.
"I WANT THE OLD FAFEBOOK [sic] BACK. THIS SHIT IS WACK!!!!!" wailed a third.
"I just want to log in to Facebook - what with the red color and all? LOLLLOLOL!!!!!111" said a fourth.
And so on. And so forth. Ad infinitum. "I am going to delete my account (IF I CAN EVER LOG IN) as this SUCKS BIG TIME ! If this does not get back to NORMAL you are going to lose a lot of folks who hate this and as you can see from all the comments they think it sucks too !!! facebook was great for connecting with old friends ...now, NOT SO MUCH. SO HOW DO I LOG IN ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????"
Eventually, ReadWriteWeb added a new paragraph to the middle of its story - in bold letters:
Dear visitors from Google. This site is not Facebook. This is a website called ReadWriteWeb that reports on news about Facebook and other Internet services. You can however click here and become a Fan of ReadWriteWeb on Facebook, to receive our updates and learn more about the Internet. To access Facebook right now, click here. For future reference, type "facebook.com" into your browser address bar or enter "facebook" into Google and click on the first result. We recommend that you then save Facebook as a bookmark in your browser.
Facebook does want to be the "one true login." But clearly, that will take some doing. Google search is such a web focal point, it's usurping the duties of the browser itself.
It's not just that Google has become - literally - a synonym for search. It's not just that Google controls 60 to 70 per cent of the search market - and perhaps more. For so many of the world's (rather clueless) web surfers, Google is more than a search engine. It's a gateway to every page they ever visit.
In other words, those top-secret Google algorithms have a tighter grip on the world's web traffic than you might think. ®