Google told Wired that it's researching plans to use the +1 button as a crowdsourcing tool to adjust search results and battle web spam.
Google recently expanded the powers of the +1 button to include their new Google+ social networking service. Click on +1 button on a site, or in search results, and you're Google+ +1 feed is updated with the site. It's similar to Facebook's Like button.
Of course, if you remember Digg in its heyday, you'll know how quickly this sort of system can be "gamed" to push articles to the top of search results above more relevant content. Google reiterated to Wired that "There are more than 200 signals that we use to determine the rank of a website, and last year we made more than 500 improvements to the algorithm."
Still that leaves Google in an odd situation. They want to capitalise on the +1 button to promote their new social networking service and fix search results, but they have to make sure they don't piss off the Justice Department with what could be construed as Google using its search engine to squash rival Facebook. Plus, the whole system could backfire on them and instead of fixing search spam, it could make it worse. [Wired]