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Twitter/Google + Battle Heats Up

By Julia Boorstin, CNBC Correspondent

NEW YORK ( CNBC) -- Twitter is taking issue with the way Google favors Google+ over Twitter as it personalizes results for its new "Search plus your world" results.

The two companies are shooting statements back and forth, establishing a battleground over instant search and potential anti-trust issues that is sure to become an even bigger issue in coming weeks. Google (GOOG) is trying to make gains gains for its new social service, Google+, which aims to compete with both Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter's general counsel, Alex Macgillivray, just tweeted an example of how Google's new search system impacts results when users are searching for @usernames. Check out the example Macgillivray shows in a screenshot, what happens when a user searches for @wwe. He's trying to make the point that though the "@" symbol makes it clear that a user is looking for a Twitter profile, Google chooses to suppress the Twitter result, instead promoting Google+ options.
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This tweet follows Macgillivray, who used to work for Google, tweeting yesterday, "Bad day for the Internet ... Having been there, I can imagine the dissension @google to search being warped this way." Warped is certainly a strong word. Twitter followed up with a corporate statement saying that "We're concerned that as a result of Google's changes, finding [breaking news on Twitter] will be much harder for everyone. We think that's bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users."

Industry watchers have suggested that EU and U.S. regulators could pursue anti-trust concerns, asking if Google is using its dominance in search to elevate Google+, which clearly aims to compete with both Twitter and Facebook.

But Google is focusing on the fact that Twitter "chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer," as it wrote in a statement, in which Google links to an article about the deal expiring. Google writes that since then it has observed their "no follow instructions."

Google still can crawl tweets -- they're public after all -- and Google has more than 3 billion pages in its index. But because Google isn't "paying for the fire hose," it has to do more work to search real-time tweets, which theoretically would add about a five minute delay to when tweets would show up in search. And Google might argue that a five-minute delay makes tweets less valuable.

This is just the beginning of what's bound to be an ongoing showdown between Google, Twitter and even Facebook. There's no question that it's critical for consumers to get targeted information, and results in real-time. The question is which company will succeed in winning their attention and their time.

--Written by Julia Boorstin, CNBC Correspondent
CNBC is a world leader in business news, providing real-time financial market coverage and business information.

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