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Welcome to the social

Well, it's hardly the 'Facebook killer' that's been rumoured, but it's a start. Google quietly launched its long-awaited '+1' feature today, the key plank in what's expected to be a broad suite of social features they're adding to their services to compete with the mighty Facebook.

So what is +1? Well, it's pretty simple. Google's added a link to its search results, next to each result, that says '+1'. Click it, and you'll add the site in question to a tab on your public Google Profile. You can set the tab to private and use +1 as a personal record of things you like, or you can keep it public (we sense this is what Google would prefer) so that your contacts can see what you're +1-ing. Basically it's the Facebook like, Google-style.

Except: it's in the Google results. So you have to +1 a site before you actually look at it. This seems kinda dumb. We assume that Google are going to urge page owners to add it to sites, just like Facebook have very successfully done.

And it seems, well, fine. But here's the problem: who are those 'contacts' who will be able to see your +1s? Your Gmail contacts? Your chat contacts? The people following your Buzz? +1 has the same basic problem Buzz has: Google has no good, consistent 'social graph', meaning a record of who's connected to who on the web. Until they rationalise all the different networks people have on their services, they're going to be playing catch-up in what nerds call the 'social space'.

Still, you've got to start somewhere. +1 isn't actually showing up in results yet, but we look forward to giving it a click when it does.

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