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Google

New Study Accuses Google of Anti-competitive Search Behavior 132 132

An anonymous reader writes: Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu — the man who coined the term "network neutrality" — has published a new study suggesting that Google's new method of putting answers to simple search queries at the top of the results page is anticompetitive and harmful to consumers. For subjective search queries — e.g. "What's the best [profession] in [city]?" — Google frequently figures out a best-guess answer to display first, favoring its own results to do so. The study did some A/B testing with a group of 2,690 internet users and found they were 45% more likely to click on merit-based results than on Google's listings. Wu writes, "Search engines are widely understood as key mediators of the web's speech environment, given that they have a powerful impact on who gets heard, what speech is neglected, and what information generally is reached. ... The more that Google directs users to its own content and its own properties, the more that speakers who write reviews, blogs and other materials become invisible to their desired audiences."
Censorship

BBC Curates The "Right To Be Forgotten" Links That Google Can't 141 141

An anonymous reader writes, quoting the BBC's Internet Blog: "Since a European Court of Justice ruling last year, individuals have the right to request that search engines remove certain web pages from their search results. Those pages usually contain personal information about individuals." The BBC, however, is not obligated to completely censor the results, and so has taken an approach that other media outlets would do well to emulate: they're keeping a list of those pages delisted by the search engines, and making them easy to find through the BBC itself. Why? The BBC has decided to make clear to licence fee payers which pages have been removed from Google's search results by publishing this list of links. Each month, we'll republish this list with new removals added at the top. We are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. We think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. We also think the integrity of the BBC's online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.
Yahoo!

The Next Java Update Could Make Yahoo Your Default Search Provider 328 328

itwbennett writes: At the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a partnership with Oracle that could result in Yahoo becoming your default search provider in your browser. Starting this month, when users are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they'll be asked to make Yahoo their default search engine on Chrome (and Internet Explorer, for what it's worth). And, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the button will be checked by default, so if you aren't looking out for it, you might unwittingly find yourself a Yahoo user.
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Cloud Data Encrypted Without Cross-Platform Pain? 107 107

bromoseltzer writes: I use cloud storage to hold many gigs of personal files that I'd just as soon were not targets for casual data mining. (Google: I'm thinking of you.) I want to access them from Linux, Windows, and Android devices. I have been using encfs, which does the job for Linux fairly well (despite some well-known issues), but Windows and Android don't seem to have working clients. I really want to map a file system of encrypted files and encrypted names to a local unencrypted filesystem — the way encfs works. What solutions do Slashdot readers recommend? Ideal would be a competitive cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive that provides trustworthy encryption with suitable clients. Is there anything like that?
Google

YouTube Algorithm Can Decide Your Channel URL Now Belongs To Someone Else 271 271

An anonymous reader writes: In 2005, blogger Matthew Lush registered "Lush" as his account on the then-nascent YouTube service, receiving www.youtube.com/lush as the URL for his channel. He went on to use this address on his marketing materials and merchandise. Now, YouTube has taken the URL and reassigned it to the Lush cosmetics brand. Google states that an algorithm determined the URL should belong to the cosmetics firm rather than its current owner, and insists that it is not possible to reverse the unrequested change. Although Lush cosmetics has the option of changing away from their newly-received URL and thereby freeing it up for Mr. Lush's use, they state that they have not decided whether they will. Google has offered to pay for some of Mr. Lush's marketing expenses as compensation.
Privacy

DuckDuckGo Sees Massive Growth In Post-Snowden World 112 112

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-oriented search engine, has been around for over six years. But when Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA surveillance in 2013, DuckDuckGo started a period of strong growth that hasn't slowed yet. The search engine has seen a 600% increase in traffic over the past two years, and they're now serving 3 billion searches a year. This shouldn't be a surprise — last month, a Pew survey found that 40% of American adults didn't want their search engine to retain information about them. But members of the general public are notoriously slow to change their privacy-related behavior. DuckDuckGo's growing popularity has led them to double their employee count since early 2014, now totaling 28 people. Their success is beginning to fuel speculation about an acquisition, with Apple's name being tossed around as a potential buyer.
Google

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Search Engines Left That Don't Try To Think For Me? 424 424

An anonymous reader writes: As a programmer especially, I'm becoming increasingly unhappy with Google searches. They try very hard to present me with what they think I'm searching for instead of what I'm actually searching for. This issue mostly shows up when searching error messages, obscure type and function names and stuff like that. What I think though, is that I only notice the issue when searching for stuff I know a lot about, namely programming, but my queries get distorted when I'm searching for just about anything, I just don't know enough about the subject to notice. Are there any alternative search engines left that don't think they know better than me what I'm looking for and just search for my phrase, like in the 2000s? Searching for exact strings is an option with Google, but what search engines are the most hands-off to start with?
Censorship

France Claims Right To Censor Search Results Globally 337 337

Lauren Weinstein writes: I've been waiting for this, much the way one waits for a violent case of food poisoning. France is now officially demanding that Google expand the hideous EU 'Right To Be Forgotten' (RTBF) to Google.com worldwide, instead of just applying it to the appropriate localized (e.g. France) version of Google. And here's my official response as a concerned individual:

To hell with this ...
Weinstein's page links to the paywalled WSJ coverage; you might prefer The New York Times or Politico. Related: a court in Canada, according to TechDirt, would like to do something similar, when it comes to expanding its effect on Google results for everyone, not just those who happen to live within its jurisdiction.
Java

Ask Toolbar Now Considered Malware By Microsoft 212 212

AmiMoJo writes: Last month Microsoft changed its policy on protecting search settings to include any software that attempts to hijack searches as malware. As a result, this month the Ask Toolbar, which most people will probably recognize as being unwanted crapware bundled with Java, was marked as malware and will now be removed by Microsoft's security software built in to Windows 7 and above.
IT

Ask Slashdot: How To Turn an Email Stash Into Knowledge For My Successor? 203 203

VoiceOfDoom writes: I'm leaving my current position in a few weeks and it looks unlikely that a replacement will be found in time. My job is very specialized and I'm the only person in the organization who is qualified or experienced in how to do it. I'd like to share as much of my accumulated knowledge with my successor as possible but at the moment, it mostly exists in my email archive which will be deleted after I've been gone for 90 days.

The organization doesn't have any knowledge management systems so the only way it seems I can pass on this information is by copying all the info into a series of documents, which isn't much fun to do in Outlook. Can my fellow Slashdotters can suggest a better approach? By the way, there's quite a lot of confidential stuff in there that my successor needs to know but which cannot leave the organization's existing systems.
AI

Siri, Cortana and Google Have Nothing On SoundHound's Speech Recognition 235 235

MojoKid writes: Your digital voice assistant app is incompetent. Yes, Siri can give you a list of Italian restaurants in the area, Cortana will happily look up the weather, and Google Now will send a text message, if you ask it to. But compared to Hound, the newest voice search app on the block, all three of the aforementioned assistants might as well be bumbling idiots trying to outwit a fast talking rocket scientist. At its core, Hound is the same type of app — you bark commands or ask questions about any number of topics and it responds intelligently. And quickly. What's different about Hound compared to Siri, Cortana, and Google Now is that it's freakishly fast and understands complex queries that would have the others hunched in the fetal position, thumb in mouth. Check out the demo. It's pretty impressive.
AI

Baidu Forced To Withdraw Last Month's ImageNet Test Results 94 94

elwinc writes: Back in mid-May, Baidu, a computer research and services organization in Mainland China, announced impressive results on the ImageNet "Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge," besting results posted by Google and Microsoft. Turns out, Baidu gamed the system, creating 30 accounts and running far more than the 2 tests per week allowed in the contest. Having been caught cheating, Baidu has been banned for a year from the challenge. I believe all competitors are using variations on the convolutional neural network, AKA deep network. Running the test dozens of times per week might allow a competitor to pre-tune parameters for the particular problem, thus producing results that might not generalize to other problems. All of which makes it quite ironic that a Baidu scientist crowed "Our company is now leading the race in computer intelligence!"
Google

Creationists Manipulating Search Results 445 445

reallocate writes: It looks like some Creationists are manipulating search results to ensure websites pushing religion are appearing in response to queries about science. Ask Google "What happened to the dinosaurs?" and you'll see links to Creationist sites right at the top. (And, right now, several hits to sites taking note of it.) Google has a feedback link waiting for you to use it.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable? 49 49

An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.
Twitter

Tweets To Appear In Google Search Results 91 91

mpicpp writes with news that Google will now begin showing tweets alongside search results. Mobile users searching via the Android/iOS apps or through the browser will start seeing the tweets immediately, while the desktop version is "coming shortly." The tweets will only be available for the searches in English to start, but Twitter says they'll be adding more languages soon.