STUDY: Google’s Manipulation Of Search Results Is Damaging

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GooglelogoIn a study conducted by Internet scholar and law professor Tim Wu, it has been found that Google’s deliberate manipulation of its search results is damaging to both its users and its competitors.

The study was funded by the popular consumer review website Yelp, who has a history of being critical of Google’s practices regarding search results.

A prior complaint was made last year over Yelp’s allegations that Google was purposely undercutting Yelp’s search traffic by 20%, even though papers related to that complaint stated that the move hadn’t hurt Yelp’s bottom line overall.

The results claim that Google’s move to assign prominence on its own content over more organic results found by its search algorithm leads to something termed “social welfare” which summed up means that consumers and competitors alike are harmed by the lack of proper and unbiased search results.

The news comes as Google is grappling with similar allegations made in an anti-trust lawsuit by the European Union.

Yelp has added their voice to the allegations by filing a complaint to anti-trust regulators in Europe.

A spokesperson for Google dismissed the study, stating: “This latest study is based on a flawed methodology that focuses on results for just a handful of cherry-picked queries. At Google we focus on trying to provide the best results for our users.”

Christopher A. Smith

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Yahoo And Oracle Partner On Search Deal

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RUMOR: Yahoo To Acquire FoursquareA new partnership between Yahoo and Oracle will mean more direct marketing of the search engine company will be provided by the software tools company.

At Yahoo’s annual shareholders meeting in Santa Clara, California, CEO Marissa Mayer broke the news of the three-year agreement.

Users who download Java, Oracle Corp.’s suite of program developer tools will have Yahoo’s default home page and search available as an option.

The deal is similar to one Yahoo made for users in the United States last year with Mozilla, the parent company of the popular web browser Firefox,.

According to Mayer, the deal has been beneficial for Yahoo since then.

The new deal means that Yahoo will be reaching out to 7 billion users and their devices worldwide, and that includes the 89 percent of computers within the United States.

Mayer remarked that the deal is part of great strides made in Yahoo’s efforts to regain footing in the tech industry.

Christopher A. Smith

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Google Is Now Removing Revenge Porn Links From Their Search Results

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GooglelogoGoogle is now making sure that revenge porn will no longer be readily found in their search engine results, causing a slight sigh of relief from those that the behavior was directed towards.

Over the next few weeks, Google will implement a web form that will let people make the request to get rid of results that show them naked or in sexually explicit and compromising situations they did not agree to become public.

In a blog post by Google, they explained part of their reasoning with the following: “Revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims — predominantly women.”

The new policy will have some limits and bear a resemblance to those already in place concerning the removal of bank signatures and account numbers from search results.

Google’s move in this regard is highly significant and represents the rising tide of those looking to strictly outlaw revenge porn – several states have created laws against it, and the United Kingdom has instituted a similar law.

While it’s still difficult to prosecute someone responsible for publishing it, Google’s policy makes it one of the biggest online platforms to institute a ban on revenge porn, along with Twitter’s own recent policies.

Christopher A. Smith

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Top Security Firm Kaspersky Lab Compromised By Hackers

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Adult Dating Site Hacked - Thousands Of Customer Records Leaked OnlineOne of the world’s most well known cyber-security firms has made the recent admission that it had been hacked.

Kaspersky Lab, based in Russia, revealed the news that hackers had gotten into their system in order to find out more about its newer technologies.

They detected the intrusion earlier in the spring, and found that the cyberattack was comprised of three techniques they had never seen before.

The malware involved doesn’t write any files to the disk, but instead takes up residence in the computer’s memory.

It was then spread using Microsoft Software Installer files, more commonly used by IT staff to log in remotely to computers in order to install other programs.

Microsoft programs appear to be the weapon of choice in these attacks; a previous series of Trojan attacks referred to as Duqu struck in 2011 used Word as its way into several targets.

The concern held by Kaspersky is that this latest breach was intended to strike at the heart of targets associated with continued talks between Iran and Western nations.

Eugene Kaspersky, the firm’s CEO, in a statement spoke to the company’s determined approach despite the news: “The only way to protect the world is to have law enforcement agencies and security companies fighting such attacks openly. We will always report attacks regardless of their origin.”

Christopher A. Smith

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Yahoo Maps Is History

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social_yahoo_button_lilac (1)Yahoo is doing a sprucing up of its entire interface, and some tools are going the way of the dodo bird.

The company has announced that it will close its maps portal, Maps.yahoo.com, at the end of June.

The chief architect, Amotz Maimon, elaborated on the decision by saying, “We made this decision to better align resources to Yahoo’s priorities as our business has evolved since we first launched Yahoo Maps eight years ago.”

Mapping still will be a major part of Yahoo’s operations, especially in terms of their Flickr service and web searches.

The move is seen as a way to not compete directly with Google and be over-matched, and also a way to improve Yahoo’s financial standing.

Yahoo is also putting a stop to specific sites and scaling back efforts in other areas, with the web-content gathering tool Pipes being discontinued, as an example.

They will also end support for the mail systems on older operating system versions of the iPhone.

Christopher A. Smith

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Need Free Unlimited Storage For Your Photos And Videos? Check Out Google Photos

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Photowall App From Google Brings Photos To Your TV Via ChromecastGoogle took the opportunity to stake a claim in the world of cloud-based storage at its own I/O conference on Thursday.

As part of onstage presentations, the company unveiled Google Photos for the first time.

The service will be available through apps for Android and iOS devices and smartphones and a website.

They tout it as a home to procure unlimited storage for your photos and videos all with a simple upload.

Google Photos has the ability to sync your uploads with your Google Drive account, and all photos and videos get immediately backed up on their servers.

Organizing your photos is made easier thanks to features that integrate learning technology into the service; for example, the service has the ability to perceive how you get your photos and videos in order and can mimic it for the next time you log in.

Sharing your photos is a simple process – all a user has to do with their photos and video is to tap the ‘Get A Link’ button and one is created to be sent to friends and others that they can open with or without having their own Google Photos account.

The service is now available to all Google subscribers.

Christopher A. Smith

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Google “Buy” Button To Launch Soon

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GooglelogoA potential move by Google that has raised a great deal of speculation from observers (including our first reports) looks as if it will become a reality.

Omid Kordestani, Google’s chief business officer, confirmed in an interview at the Code Conference held recently in California that they will implement a “buy” button within their search results.

The new feature is intended to provide ammunition for Google in a battle with retail sites like Amazon and eBay for consumers.

Outside of appearing in search results, Kordestani was publicly mum about other details except to say that the launch is fast approaching as he also touched on Android’s profitability in the interview.

The “buy” button’s purpose has been a source of speculation since word about it first leaked earlier in the month.

The chatter describes the possibility of the button appearing with shopping related results with sponsors.

When a user clicks on an item they’d like to buy using the button, they would then be taken to a page displaying the item and all other pertinent details.

The page itself would still primarily be linked to the original retailer, with Google being a gateway point.

Christopher A. Smith

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Airbnb Boss To Investors: We Don’t Need More Of Your Money

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Cuba Added To List Of Airbnb DestinationsIn an interview with ReCode’s Kara Swisher at their Code Conference on Wednesday, the CEO of Airbnb took pains to assure the public that the online peer-to-peer rental company is doing rather well financially.

In fact, Brian Chesky states that “We are already the largest provider of accommodations on the planet and we’re growing really, really, quickly.”

He felt that they were secure enough in a position of stability to where they didn’t need any more funding from investors.

Airbnb currently has over one million listings available in close to 200 countries with 34,000 cities.

From their inception in 2008, the company has swollen in size due to the growing need for accommodations that would be an alternative to traditional hotels.

And their properties range from having the ability to rent an apartment to now being able to rent more extravagant and offbeat locations like European ski lifts and castles.

Chesky went on to state that in spite of growth that has Airbnb valued at an estimated $10 billion thanks to previous investor funding totalling $794.8 million, there is no rush to go public with an IPO. “Whenever we start working on an IPO, that’s a two-year project.” he said.

Airbnb does have other matters to attend to first; they are currently the subject of fierce debate over their practices which critics claim add to a hefty housing crunch and deny cities tax dollars it would get if Airbnb operated within traditional hospitality rules.

For its part, the company is currently working with various cities on how they can work together in a more fruitful manner.

Christopher A. Smith

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Tracking Protection By Firefox Improves Performance

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Mozilla Patches Firefox Encryption FlawA new tech industry paper has found that a new optional feature that accompanies the popular Firefox website has a great impact on its performance.

The Tracking Protection feature, when enabled by users, saw the loading time for news websites in the 200 top Alexa news site listings cut by 44 percent in terms of pages.

In addition, there was a registered 39 percent reduction in data usage leading to the faster loading time.

According to Monica Chew, a former software engineer with Mozilla, this feature has a significant effect on performance with these news sites due to the limiting of the effects of embedded extras like advertising that they tend to employ.

Tracking Protection, which is based on information collected from the anti-tracking startup Disconnect, isn’t an automatic inclusion within Firefox; users have to follow a three-step process to enable the feature within their browser.

The feature is gaining popularity, especially among privacy advocates who previously had to contend with plug-ins that didn’t have such a positive effect on performance as this has at present.

Chew hopes that the continued success of Tracking Protection will keep investors and creators focused on the users first: “It will take a major force to disrupt this ecosystem and motivate alternative revenue models. I hope that Mozilla can be that force.”

Christopher A. Smith

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Here Are The Top 10 Countries Ranked By Internet Speed

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connection-309682_1280As time goes on, we are bearing witness to more and more of the world gaining online access at record rates. So much so that it behooves leading statistics professionals to keep tabs on Internet connectivity speeds in various countries around the world.

These stats also are comparative data that industry experts and professionals in the United States will use to see how they measure up. And with this recent list, America didn’t even come close to making the cut; the U.S. ranks 17th in terms of Internet connection speed which is measured by Mbps, or Megabits per second. The entire list itself is dominated by European countries, with a notable inclusion or two like the Czech Republic for example. They come in ninth on the list with an average Mbps of 12.3, seeing a 8.4% increase in their Internet speed. Number one on the list? South Korea, with a whopping 22.2 Mbps rate. To add to that surprising stat, they benefitted from a small increase in Internet speed at 1.6%.

Christopher A. Smith

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