On the internet, if it's free, you're pretty much the service (not the product). The distinction between product and service is pretty important here, since on the Internet your digital footprint is a process. How dynamic that process is determined by how often your information is updated - not just by yourself, but others.
So you're not a product for social networks, et al. You're a service. We could deviate into how companies make money off of your network interactions, but instead I'll write about the tribes.
The people you're connected with on social networks are your digital tribe. They influence you and companies are aware of that. By design, your social networks provide you with content that people within your network share. This, by itself, is common sense and is only a digital extension of how society works. We listen to our friends, and opposing opinions are rarely valued. I won't say whether this is good or bad - but it's simply how it works.
Enter the search engines who know your network, such as Google. When you're logged into Google, any searches you do are influenced by the network that you have on Google as well as. And your network, lest you forget, can be broken down into a matrix of common interests (the basis for the Hedgehog Project that I've been toying with and explained a bit better in 'The Matrix of Intimacy Part I').
So what you presently search for is influenced - and at least in some regards, limited - by the size of your network. It wasn't always this way, but targeted advertising is a force of economy that refuses to be ignored. Camouflaged, yes, but not ignored. It almost resolves the issues I brought up in 'Tags, Time and Content Creators', but it's sometimes - maybe often - biased toward the now and popularity of the author/topic.
When it comes to actual information, this may not be the best way to go simply because #YOLO was popular. It's a balancing act and requires a lot of a user who wants information from a text box. Google, as an example, has a bunch of search tips that most people have no idea about which can be really useful.
But it's not intuitive.