Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) been grasping at social search for a while now thanks to threats from Facebook and Twitter. A new feature called '+1' attempts to fill the void but misses the mark.

The timing couldn't be worse. Yesterday, The Big G agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated users' privacy when it introduced its Buzz social network last year. The price? Twenty years of privacy audits and up to $16,000 in fines.

Never before has the FTC forced a company to implement a specific privacy program, but given the rise of social media, it's unlikely to be the last time we see the feds cracking down. Buzz still exists on the web but in a more moderated form. Nor has Google given up on the idea of social media ... which brings us back to +1.

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