New submitter perplexing.reader (2241844) writes "Microsoft is paying Brazilian users US$2 in Skype vouchers to set Bing as their default search engine and MSN as their default home page. Translated from the site: 'Make MSN your homepage and Bing your default search engine and earn up to 60 minutes of calls to mobiles and landlines in Skype.' ... The Rules: 'After receiving the voucher, this should be used until July 31, 2014. Once on Skype, the credits do not expire. The minutes are based on a rate of $ 0.023 per minute, but the number of minutes may vary depending on the destination of the call and the number of calls you make. The current value of the voucher is $2.00. [One claimed], the voucher will appear in your Skype account." (For those outside Brazil, the page brings up a message that translates to "Sorry, this promotion is not available for your country.")
Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "MetaFilter recently announced layoffs due to a decline in ad revenue that started with a mysterious 40% drop in traffic from Google on November 17, 2012, and which never recovered. Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand explores in detail how MetaFilter 'serves as a poster child of problems with Google's penalty process, despite all the advances Google has made over the years.' Caitlin Dewey at the Washington Post puts it more bluntly: 'That may be the most striking, prescient takeaway from the whole MetaFilter episode: the extent to which the modern Web does not incentivize quality.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft today confirmed the rumors of a new edition of its latest operating system by unveiling Windows 8.1 with Bing. The company says the main purpose of the new SKU is to allow its hardware partners to sell lower-cost Windows devices; the first ones with the new edition will be announced next month at Computex in Tapei. Windows 8.1 with Bing is exactly like Windows 8.1 with the recently released Windows 8.1 Update, with one major difference: Bing is set as the default search engine in Internet Explorer. Users can still change that option in IE's search engine settings, but OEMs do not have that luxury."
NapalmV sends this news from the BBC: "The European Union Court of Justice said links to 'irrelevant' and outdated data should be erased on request. The case was brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google's search results infringed his privacy. Google said the ruling was 'disappointing.'" The EU Justice Commissioner said, "Companies can no longer hide behind their servers being based in California or anywhere else in the world. ... The data belongs to the individual, not to the company. And unless there is a good reason to retain this data, an individual should be empowered — by law — to request erasure of this data." According to the ruling (PDF), if a search provider declines to remove the data, the user can escalate the situation to a judicial authority to make sure the user's rights are being respected.
Mark.JUK (1222360) writes "The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has today ruled that Google, Bing and others, acting as internet search engine operators, are responsible for the processing that they carry out of personal data which appears on web pages published by third parties. As a result any searches made on the basis of a person's name that returns links/descriptions for web pages containing information on the person in question can, upon request by the related individual, be removed. The decision supports calls for a so-called 'right to be forgotten' by Internet privacy advocates, which ironically the European Commission are already working to implement via new legislation. Google failed to argue that such a decision would be unfair because the information was already legally in the public domain."
KindMind (897865) writes "From the Washington Post: 'Psychologist Robert Epstein has been researching [how much influence search engines have on voting behavior] and says he is alarmed at what he has discovered. His most recent experiment, whose findings were released Monday, found that search engines have the potential to profoundly influence voters without them noticing the impact ... Epstein, former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today and a vocal critic of Google, has not produced evidence that this or any other search engine has intentionally deployed this power. But the new experiment builds on his earlier work by measuring SEME (Search Engine Manipulation Effect) in the concrete setting of India's national election, whose voting concludes Monday.'"
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "How risky is it to use the words "bomb," "plague," or "gun" online? That was a question we posed, tongue in cheek, with a web toy we built last year called Hello NSA. It offers users suggested tweets that use words that drawn from a list of watchwords that analysts at the Dept. of Homeland Security are instructed to search for on social media. "Stop holding my love hostage," one of the tweets read. "My emotions are like a tornado of fundamentalist wildfire." It was silly, but it was also imagined as an absurdist response to the absurdist ways that dragnet surveillance of the public and non-public Internet jars with our ideas of freedom of speech and privacy. And yet, after reading the mounting pile of NSA PowerPoints, are all of us as comfortable as we used to be Googling for a word like "anthrax," even if we were simply looking up our favorite thrash metal band? Maybe not. According to a new study of Google search trends, searches for terms deemed to be sensitive to government or privacy concerns have dropped "significantly" in the months since Edward Snowden's revelations in July."
itwbennett writes: "A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday (PDF) accuses Google of strong-arming device manufacturers into making its search engine the default on Android devices, driving up the cost of those devices and hurting consumers. The suit does not argue that device manufacturers entered Mobile Application Distribution Agreements involuntarily, but that the market power of Google compels them to. 'Because consumers want access to Google's products, and due to Google's power in the U.S. market for general handheld search, Google has unrivaled market power over smartphone and tablet manufacturers,' says the suit."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Google will no longer scan the email messages of students and other school staff who use its Google Apps for Education suite, exempting about 30 million users from the chronically controversial practice for Gmail advertising. In addition, Google is removing the option for Apps for Education administrators to allow ads to be shown to their users. Until now, ads were turned off by default, but admins could turn on this feature at their discretion. A Google spokesperson called the move part of a 'continued evolution of our efforts to provide the best experience for our users, including students' and not a response to a recent lawsuit alleging that by scanning Gmail messages Google violated wiretapping laws and breached users' privacy."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "If you were anywhere near the internet last week, you would have come across reports of 'DarkMarket', a new system being touted as a Silk Road the FBI could never seize. Although running in a similar fashion on the face of things — some users buy drugs, other sell them — DarkMarket works in a fundamentally different way to Silk Road or any other online marketplace. Instead of being hosted off a server like a normal website, it runs in a decentralized manner: Users download a piece of software onto their device, which allows them to access the DarkMarket site. The really clever part is how the system incorporates data with the blockchain, the part of Bitcoin that everybody can see. Rather than just carrying the currency from buyer to seller, data such as user names are added to the blockchain by including it in very small transactions, meaning that its impossible to impersonate someone else because their pseudonymous identity is preserved in the ledger. Andy Greenberg has a good explanation of how it works over at Wired. The prototype includes nearly everything needed for a working marketplace: private communications between buyers and sellers, Bitcoin transfers to make purchases, and an escrow system that protects the cash until it is confirmed that the buyer has received their product. Theoretically, being a decentralized and thus autonomous network, it would still run without any assistance from site administrators, and would certainly make seizing a central server, as was the case with the original Silk Road, impossible."
An anonymous reader writes "The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology front group, has received a 'grant from Google in the amount of $10,000 per month worth of Pay Per Click Advertising to be used in our Orange County anti-psych campaigns.' CCHR believes that ALL psychiatrists are evil. They believe that psychiatrists were behind the holocaust, and these shadow men were never brought to justice. CCHR also believes that psychiatrists were behind the 911 attacks. Scientologists believe that psychiatrists have always been evil, and their treachery goes back 75 million years when the psychiatrists assisted XENU in killing countless alien life forms. Thanks Google! We may be able to stop these evil Psychs once and for all!"
First time accepted submitter turkeydance (1266624) writes "The dark web just got a little less dark with the launch of a new search engine that lets you easily find illicit drugs and other contraband online. Grams, which launched last week and is patterned after Google, is accessible only through the Tor anonymizing browser (the address for Grams is: grams7enufi7jmdl.onion) but fills a niche for anyone seeking quick access to sites selling drugs, guns, stolen credit card numbers, counterfeit cash and fake IDs — sites that previously only could be found by users who knew the exact URL for the site."
judgecorp (778838) writes "Three weeks after Russia asserted that Crimea is part of its territory, the social networks have a problem: how to categories their users from the region? Facebook and the largest Russian social network, Vkontakte, still say Crimeans are located in Ukraine, while other Russian social networks say they are Russians. Meanwhile, on Wikipedia, an edit war has resulted in Crimea being part of Russia, but shaded a different colour to signify the territory is disputed. Search engine Yandex is trying to cover both angles: its maps service gives a different answer, depending on which location you send your query from."
An anonymous reader writes "Members of the Senate have proposed a bill that would prohibit the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) from selling to other U.S. federal agencies technical papers that are already freely available. NTIS is under the Department of Commerce. The bill is probably a result of a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which points out that 'Of the reports added to NTIS's repository during fiscal years 1990 through 2011, GAO estimates that approximately 74 percent were readily available from other public sources.' Ars Technica notes that the term 'public sources' refers to 'either the issuing organization's website, the federal Internet portal, or another online resource.'"
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Facebook owns virtually all the aspects of the social experience—photos (Instagram), status updates (Facebook), location services (Places)—but now, Facebook is transitioning from a simple social network to a full-fledged technology company that rivals Google, moonshot for moonshot. Yet, it's Facebook's corporate control of traffic that leads many to distrust the company. In a sense, people are stuck. When the time comes for someone to abandon Facebook, whether over privacy concerns or frustration with the company, Facebook intentionally makes it hard to leave. Even if you delete your account, your ghost remains—even when you die, Facebook can still make money off you. And that's not behavior fit for a company that's poised to take over the future."