Starting today, you will be seeing what Google calls "social search results" interspersed throughout the traditional Google search results, based on Google's idea of relevance. If you are connected to people on Blogger, Twitter, flickr and similar publicly available sites, Google will be letting you know who shared or published the information contained in the content returned in the SERP.
Hoping for more personalized and relevant results, Google's justification is they want to help you find the most relevant information possible.
This is not the first time Google has included social elements into their search results. Google introduced Social Search in 2009, Twitter real-time results in 2010 and Social Sitelinks last December. But up until this week, results from "people in your social circle" were pushed down to the bottom of the results page.
This new set of results displays shares and publishings of people you are connected to via social networks. When content been mentioned by someone from one of your social networks appears in a results page, Google will "bump up that post with a note and a picture:"
But What About Privacy?
As has always been the case, none of these social enhancements will appear unless you search while logged into your Google account.
Google is acknowledging that there are some people who may not wish to share their connections or have their social networks pried upon. They have expanded their previously-existing controls in your Google profile page.
While before, you could connect accounts publicly. Google has added the option of connecting your accounts privately. The difference here, is that you can still have social results show up in your results pages, while not broadcasting to the world things you have shared with your networks.
The results are already showing up today for pages in English only. You will be seeing a lot more results and the updates unroll over the coming week.
Get more info on Google's Social Search help page and from this YouTube video: