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As Deal With Twitter Expires, Google Realtime Search Goes Offline


Yesterday, we reported that Google Realtime Search had mysteriously disappeared. Today comes the reason why: Google’s agreement with Twitter to carry its results has expired, taking with it much of the content that was in the service with it.
Google sent us this explanation:
Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2. While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google.
Google also stressed that went Google Realtime Search relaunches — something it says will happen but with no set time frame — it will include content from a variety of sources and not just be solely devoted to Google+ material. The company said:
Our vision is to have google.com/realtime include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.
Google Realtime Search had carried content from a variety of services beyond Twitter, including Facebook fan page updates. When we last wrote about the service in April, when it added Quora and Gowalla content, this was the full source list:
  • Twitter tweets
  • Google News links
  • Google Blog Search links
  • Newly created web pages
  • Freshly updated web pages
  • FriendFeed updates
  • Jaiku updates
  • Identi.ca updates
  • TwitArmy updates
  • Google Buzz posts
  • MySpace updates
  • Facebook fan page updates
  • Quora
  • Gowolla
  • Plixi
  • Me2day
  • Twitgoo
Still, as said, Twitter was the by far the most dominant content within the service. It’s unclear why the agreement was allowed to expire. Twitter sent me this:
Since October 2009, Twitter has provided Google with the stream of public tweets for incorporation into their real-time search product and other uses. That agreement has now expired. We continue to provide this type of access to Microsoft, Yahoo!, NTT Docomo, Yahoo! Japan and dozens of other smaller developers. And, we work with Google in many other ways.
For its part, Google said:
Twitter has been a valuable partner for nearly two years, and we remain open to exploring other collaborations in the future.
I’d say we have a bit of a standoff.
One reason I’d expect Twitter would do a deal with Google sometime soon is that otherwise, people largely have no way to locate tweets that are older than a few days.
Twitter has largely outsourced the service of Twitter search longer than a few days to Google, a deliberate decision so that Twitter could focus on other search features, such as its new Top Tweets feature, as covered more below:
The end of Google Realtime Search means that tiny search engine Topsy remains in the enviable situation of having the only major Twitter archive available on the web, to my knowledge. The stories below cover more about this:
Bing Social Search, which is a confusing name for what’s really Bing’s realtime search service, also has a deal with Twitter. Indeed, both the Twitter deals with Google and Microsoft were announced on the same day.
Twitter’s deal appears to be continuing with Bing. I still see search results showing up over there that include Twitter. But Bing’s service never went as far back in time as Google’s.
While Twitter may need Google to continue offering archive search, Google also potentially needs Twitter in another way. Google may have lost some of the data it has recently been using to bring social signals into its results, as covered more below:
I’ve not yet been able to check on whether Google Social Search and other parts of Google have been impacted by the deal’s end. I’ll look at that later — I’m heading off to enjoy the 4th Of July myself now.
Update: Google has sent us a statement addressing the issue above:
While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google. As for other features such as social search, they will continue to exist, though without Twitter data from the special feed.
You can certainly understand why Google+ has become even more important to the service now. While Google has gotten by largely without social signals from Facebook, having its own data from Google+ gives it insulation if it now has to get by without Twitter signals, as well.