Nerval's Lobster writes "Wolfram Alpha has upgraded its Personal Analytics for Facebook module, giving users the ability to dissect their own social-networking data in new ways. Wolfram Alpha's creators first launched its Facebook data-mining module in August 2012. Users could leverage the platform's computational abilities to analyze and visualize their weekly distribution of Facebook posts, types of posts (photos, links, status updates), weekly app activity, frequency of particular words in posts, and more. This latest update isn't radical, but it does offer some interesting new features, including added color coding for 'interesting' friend properties, including relationship status, age, sex, and so on; users can also slice their network data by metrics such as location and age." Wolfram users could also use some of that new site-specific searching power to come up with some unsavory results.
An anonymous reader writes "Australian surgeon Guy Hingston is suing Google in the U.S. for 'auto-complete' defamation. Typing in his name brings up 'Guy Hingston bankrupt' in the auto-complete. The association seems to have come about because Hingston purchased an aviation group CoastJet which went bankrupt two-and-a-half years later. Hingston himself was also bankrupted. Hingston claims this association has cost him customers and is suing Google for $75k, plus court costs. Google has often found itself the target of litigation over auto-complete searches. Are auto-complete results even useful? Should Google be policing the auto-complete suggestions?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Last week, Facebook announced Graph Search, a system for searching the social network's vast collection of users, photos, and 'Liked' interests. But how will Facebook power it? The Disaggregated Rack, which will separate compute, RAM, storage, and caching functions in order to remain flexible in the face of Graph Search's changing needs. By breaking up resources and scaling them independently of each other, Facebook can scale without needing to constantly open up new servers and upgrade new hardware."
moon_unit2 writes "An AI researcher at MIT suggests that Ray Kurzweil's ambitious plan to build a super-smart personal assistant at Google may be fundamentally flawed. Kurzweil's idea, as put forward in his book How to Build a Mind, is to combine a simple model of the brain with enormous computing power and vast amounts of data, to construct a much more sophisticated AI. Boris Katz, who works on machines designed to understand language, says this misses a key facet of human intelligence: that it is built on a lifetime of experiencing the world rather than simply processing raw information."
Dupple writes "The head of French telecoms operator Orange said on Wednesday it had been able to impose a deal on Google to compensate it for the vast amounts of traffic sent across its networks. Orange CEO Stephane Richard said on France's BFM Business TV that with 230 million clients and areas where Google could not get around its network, it had been able to reach a 'balance of forces' with the Internet search giant. Richard declined to cite the figure Google had paid Orange, but said the situation showed the importance of reaching a critical size in business. Network operators have been fuming for years that Google, with its search engine and YouTube video service, generates huge amounts of traffic but does not compensate them for using their networks. An editorial piece at GigaOm says Google is abandoning its principles and giving Orange 'the incentive to demand the same from other content providers.'"
redletterdave writes "Google just purchased a 2.4-acre plot in the King's Cross Central development in London, where the company plans to build a brand-new, 1 million square foot office. Google reportedly invested about £650 million ($1.04 billion) on the property, which, when finished, will be valued at more than £1 billion ($1.6 billion). While Google traditionally leases its overseas offices, the company's decision to buy rather than rent in this case was likely tax motivated, since Google can't repatriate its cash to the U.S. without paying a hefty tax."
An anonymous reader writes "Google on Friday announced yet another security improvement for Chrome 25. In addition to killing silent extension installation, the omnibox in Google's browser will send all searches over a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection. Chrome already does this for users who are signed in to Google: when they search from the address bar, their queries are sent over HTTPS. As of Chrome 25, however, the same will happen for users who aren't signed in to Google."
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes with some strong cautions on a Facebook "feature" that lets you search for random phone numbers and find the accounts of users who have registered that number on their Facebook profile. This has privacy implications that are more serious than searching by email address. Especially in light of the expanding emphasis that Facebook is putting both on search qua search and on serving as a VoIP intermediary (not to mention the stream of robocalls that the FCC is unable to stop), this might make you think twice about where your phone number ends up. Read on for Bennett's description of the problem and some possible solutions.
The Washington Post (among many others) reports on a development from Facebook that may excite many more users than does the much-hyped announcement about richer search capabilities: after launching a Canadian trial balloon not long ago, Facebook is expanding the reach of its free in-app VoiP communications with free voice comms via the company's smartphone app. "Excite" for some people will also mean "infuriate": to get the free candy, the recipient will need to have shared his or her number with Facebook, which many people will understandably be loath to do. From the WaPo article: "To use the feature, Facebook users must hit the 'i' info icon in the corner or a conversation or contact information page. That panel has a 'Free Call' button that you can use if your friend has shared a mobile number with Facebook and is available for a call. The company slowly has been building out the features available in chat — most notably with the 2011 Skype partnership that put video calling on the Web version of its site. When it released Facebook Messenger last fall, it became even clearer that messaging and mobile applications were priorities for the company."
Today at a press conference in California, Mark Zuckerberg announced a big new feature from Facebook: Graph Search. It's a set of tools designed to quickly bring together social information involving "people, photos, places, and interests" in response to a user's query. Zuckerberg was quick to point out that they aren't indexing the web, and thus aren't challenging Google. However, it will use the vast volumes of data already stored on Facebook to answer questions like "What kinds of movies do my friends like?" and "Who are friends of friends that are single in San Francisco?" Addressing the obvious privacy concerns, the company said it wouldn't allow users to search content that wasn't already shared with them (or already public). The searched data does, however, include location data, if it's been shared — you can search by places your friends have been. Significantly, the official site also mentions that Graph Search will help you meet new people, something Facebook hasn't really highlighted until now. Graph Search is being rolled out as a limited beta, with only a few thousand participants. In the coming months, they'll open it to more users and continue working on mobile and non-English versions.
Dupple writes "It looks like the EU is coming close to a decision regarding its investigation of Google. While saying he's 'still investigating,' the head of the European Union's antitrust regulatory body has said that he's convinced Google is 'diverting traffic' and that it will be forced to change its results. From the article: 'Despite the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's move earlier this month to let off Google with a slap on the wrist -- albeit, a change to its business practices, a move that financially wouldn't dent Google in the short term but something any company would seek to avoid -- the European Commission is looking to take a somewhat different approach: take its time, and then hit the company hard.'"
judgecorp writes "Google has abandoned its policy of warning Chinese users against keywords that trigger censorship. The search giant had added a warning that advised Chinese users not to use search terms that could cause the Chinese authorities to shut off their access to Google, but has now abandoned these warnings. While Google says they were ineffectual, free speech campaigners have expressed disappointment."
Dupple writes "A few days ago Google blocked access to its maps on Windows Phone 8, claiming that it 'worked best' on WebKit-based browsers — effectively excluding WP8 users. This, despite Google Maps working fine on desktop versions of IE that use the same rendering engine and users being able to spoof the user agent string on their WP8 devices to gain access. Now it appears that Google has backed down and is now allowing WP8 users access."
itwbennett writes "According to an ITworld report, 'Google has agreed to change some of its business practices, including allowing competitors access to some standardized technologies, to resolve a U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust complaint against the company.' This includes 'allow[ing] competitors access to standards-essential patents the company acquired along with its purchase of Motorola Mobility.' Also among the business practices Google has agreed to stop is 'scraping Web content from rivals and allegedly passing it off as its own, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.'" SlashCloud has some more details, including links to the agreement itself and Google's soft-pedaling description of "voluntary product changes."
An anonymous reader writes "My fiancee is a professional writer. She has a great industry reputation and everyone that knows her loves her. But her ex-husband has maintained a number of websites in her name (literally, the URL is her name) that are filled with insane ravings and defamatory content. Have you ever had to deal with an internet smear campaign? The results float to the top of every Google or Bing search of her name. He currently lives abroad and cannot be served with legal papers. His websites are hosted overseas as well, and do not respond to conventional letters or petitions. Because of his freedom of speech rights, few U.S. courts will assert that his websites are truly libelous, either, and it's still difficult to prove any real 'damages' are done by it. Still, we'd like to see them go away. I'm turning to the best community of geeks in the world: how do I deal with this given the limited options at my disposal?"