Web sites are trying to make search more helpful by showing what your friends—or other people like you—like, reports the New York Times. Turning to friends is the new rage in the web world, extending far beyond established social networking sites and setting off a rush among web companies looking for ways to help people capitalize on the wisdom of their social circles—and to make some money in the process. Amazon.com now allows its shoppers to connect to their Facebook accounts so it can display their friends’ favorite books, films, and other products. TunerFish, a start-up owned by Comcast, lets users share what television shows and movies they are watching, mapping out an up-to-the-minute TV guide of programs gaining in popularity among their friends. And Loopt, a location-focused social network with 3.4 million registered users, recently began showing them which of their friends liked a particular restaurant. While user-contributed review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have long been popular ways to get a quick reading on a new place to eat, the sheer volume of reviews they offer can be overwhelming. And the reliability of those reviews can be hard to gauge. Some might have been planted by management, while others are from disgruntled customers with a bone to pick. The trust factor of friends’ suggestions can make a big difference…

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Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura