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Google

Google Is Removing 'In the News' Section From Desktop Search After Criticism (businessinsider.com) 68

Google today confirmed that it is removing "In the news" section from the top of desktop search, and replacing it with a carousel of "Top stories," similar to what exists on mobile. From a new report on BusinessInsider: This move had been planned for quite some time, and is being rolled out globally, according to Google. The removal of the word "news" will, hopefully, help draw a sharper line between Google's human-vetted Google News product, and its main search product. Last month, Google faced scrutiny when one of its top results for "final election count" was fake news. The top result in Google Search's "In the news" section was a Wordpress blog named "70 News," which falsely claimed Trump won the popular vote by a margin of almost 700,000. (He didnâ(TM)t). Google's search results, in contrast to Google News, are not assessed for "truth."
Google

Google Asked to Remove a Billion 'Pirate' Search Results in a Year (torrentfreak.com) 68

Copyright holders asked Google to remove more than 1,000,000,000 allegedly infringing links from its search engine over the past twelve months, TorrentFreak reports. According to stats provided in Google's Transparency Report for the past one year, Google was asked to remove over one billion links -- or 1,007,741,143 links. From the article: More than 90 percent of the links, 908,237,861 were in fact removed. The rest of the reported links were rejected because they were invalid, not infringing, or duplicates of earlier requests. In total, Google has now processed just over two billion allegedly infringing URLs from 945,000 different domains. That the second billion took only a year, compared to several years for the first, shows how rapidly the volume of takedown requests is expanding. At the current rate, another billion will be added by the end of next summer. Most requests, over 50 million, were sent in for the website 4shared.com. However, according to the site's operators many of the reported URLs point to the same files, inflating the actual volume of infringing content.
Google

Google Will Tell You How Crowded Places Are In Real Time (pcmag.com) 64

Google is updating their "Popular Times" feature in Search and Maps with real-time data that will be able to tell you how busy a place is in real time. PC Magazine reports: "Just in time for the Black Friday swarms, we're adding a real-time look at how crowded a place is right now, to help you decide where and when to go," Google Product Manager Jamie Aspinall wrote in a blog post. "Whether you're rushing to pick up a last-minute gift or seeking a lively bar for some festive spirit, check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive." If you're one of those people who always needs a plan, you're going to love the next new feature. You can now see how long people typically stay at a given location, so you can "plan your itinerary to the minute." "After all, you want to be sure you leave enough time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at your local sweets shop before heading to your dinner reservations," Aspinall pointed out. In addition, Google will be able to deliver more accurate business hours for your favorite establishments. "You'll know what time to pop by the pharmacy..., when food delivery begins at a nearby restaurant..., and what the service hours are at the auto dealership," Aspinall wrote.
Democrats

Google Search Results Have Liberal Bias, Study Finds (thedenverchannel.com) 385

According to a new study reported by The Wall Street Journal, Google's search results tend to lean liberal. "An analysis by online-search marketer CanIRank.com found that 50 recent searches for political terms on Google surfaced more liberal-leaning webpages than conservative ones, as rated by a panel of four people." The Denver Channel reports: "Minimum wage" tended to yield more liberal results, while "does gun control reduce crime" resulted in more conservative ones. Searches for "financial regulation" and "federal reserve" found mostly nonpartisan links. CanIRank used the opinions of four people to determine how liberal or conservative each website was. For 16 percent of the political search terms studied, no right-leaning results showed up at all on the first page of results. CanIRank noted this could be a problem for democracy. A different study found most people click on one of the first five search results. Users rarely move on to the second page. A Google spokesperson said in an email to the WSJ: "From the beginning, our approach to search has been to provide the most relevant answers and results to our users, and it would undermine people's trust in our results, and our company, if we were to change course." According to Google, their results are "determined by algorithms using hundreds of factors" and "reflect the content and information that is available on the internet."
Google

Google Plans To Remove 'In the News' Section From Its Desktop Search Following 'Fake News' Criticism (businessinsider.com) 154

Nathan McAlone, reporting for BusinessInsider: Following criticism over fake news on its platform, Google plans to remove its "In the news" section from the top of desktop search results in a matter of weeks, according to a source familiar with the matter. It will be replaced by a carousel of "Top stories" similar to what now exists on mobile. This move had been planned for quite some time, the source said. The removal of the word "news" will, hopefully, help draw a sharper line between Google's human-vetted Google News product, and its main search product. Earlier this month, Google faced scrutiny when one of its top results for "final election count" was fake news. The top result in Google Search's "In the news" section was a Wordpress blog named "70 News," which falsely claimed Trump won the popular vote by a margin of almost 700,000. He didn't.
Google

Google Surfaces Fake News About Election Results (theverge.com) 243

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Last week, Facebook faced criticism that the platform's habit for surfacing fake news contributed to the election of Donald Trump -- a claim Mark Zuckerberg denied. This week, Google faces a similar problem, as its search algorithm surfaces fake election results. As Mediaite's Dan Abrams first reported, when you search "final election numbers" or "final vote count 2016," the first result in Google's "in the news" box is from a scrappy-looking Wordpress blog called 70 News that appears to be run by one person. The article, posted on November 12th, features the headline "FINAL ELECTION 2016 NUMBERS: TRUMP WON BOTH POPULAR ( 62.9 M -62.2 M ) AND ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES ( 306-232)HEY CHANGE.ORG, SCRAP YOUR LOONY PETITION NOW!" First, the numbers in this post are inaccurate. Though millions of votes have yet to be counted, but Clinton has already been shown to be leading the popular vote by a sizable margin. Current counts have her ahead by around 668,000 total votes, with some polling experts projecting Clinton will ultimately rack up a 2 million-vote lead. Second, the writer of the 70 News post claims that the source material for the article is "Twitter posts," specifically, this tweet from a user named Michael. Michael, on the other hand, is sourcing an article from the ultra-conservative tabloid USA Supreme, which argues that Clinton might win the number of votes "counted" but will not win the number of votes "cast" because of ignored Republican absentee ballots. (Michael also believes that Trump has been singled out by God to be president of the United States, a conspiracy theory popular with 4chan users who believe that Pepe the Frog is a reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian deity.) And yet Michael -- by way of 70 News, by way of Google -- has become the sole source for a story squatting at the top of Google's search results. 70 News has since updated its post with a single line admitting that CNN is showing different numbers -- the headline and the body of the post remains the same.
Chrome

Google Says There Are Now 2 Billion Active Chrome Installs (techcrunch.com) 48

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google is hosting its Chrome Dev Summit today. There hasn't been a lot of news out of the event, but one number that stood out in today's keynote by Chrome Engineering VP Darin Fisher was that there are now 2 billion Chrome installs in active use across desktop and mobile. This is the first time Google has shared this number. Sadly, Google didn't announce any new user numbers for Chrome today. The latest stat for active Chrome users remains at 1 billion -- a number Google shared in April. While this number is surely higher today than it was six months ago, the company decided to focus on the number of active browser install today. "I wanted to make this point that there are a lot of Chrome browsers out there," Fisher said. "What's exciting about this to you all is that when you think about building for the web, there' a lot of browsers out there that implement the latest web standards -- that implement the latest and greatest web features." The report also notes that Google has a total of seven products with more than a billion users: Gmail, Android, Chrome, Maps, Search, YouTube and Google Play Store.
Google

Google Safe Browsing Adds 'Repeat Offender' Category (thestack.com) 18

An anonymous reader writes: Google's Safe Browsing service will now brand sites which fall victim to malware repeatedly as "repeat offenders." When a site is identified as serving malware -- which usually occurs via an SQL injection attack or through auction-driven network advertising -- Google adds a "This site will harm your computer" tag to domain entries in its search results, and serves further warnings by way of interstitial pages. From today, sites which continue to succumb to attackers will not be permitted to resubmit their domain for consideration via Search Console for thirty days -- enough time to do significant SEO damage. That period does not include additional time for Google to respond to submissions about repaired sites and to remove the warnings.
Google

Gmail's iPhone App Now Has 'Undo Send' and Faster Search (mashable.com) 29

Google has updated its Gmail app for iOS today, which includes a handful of much-welcomed features and improvements. There is now an "Undo Send" button for mobile, a fresh new look, and faster search. Mashable reports: To unsend an email, just tap the "Undo" button in the lower right corner after you've hit the paper plane send icon. But you have to do it fast. You only get five seconds to hit undo before the email sends. And unlike the desktop version, you can't set it to longer intervals up to 30 seconds. You'll also notice Gmail app's got a fresh new look that resembles the Android version, which makes use of Google's Material Design language. Google's also made search faster with autocorrect suggestions and added in swipe gestures for archiving and deleting. In addition, Google has updated its Calendar application for iOS, bringing an overhauled UI and support for Spotlight search.
Google

Google Will Display Election Results As Soon As Polls Close (techcrunch.com) 174

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google has been highly involved with connecting U.S. voters to timely information throughout this election cycle, by offering everything from voter registration assistance to polling place information in its search result pages. Today, the company announced plans to display the results of the U.S. election directly in search, in over 30 languages, as soon as the polls close. Web searchers who query for "election results" will be able to view detailed information on the Presidential, Senatorial, Congressional, Gubernatorial races as well as state-level referenda and ballot propositions, says Google. The results will be updated continuously -- every 30 seconds, as indicated by a screenshot shared by the company on its official blog post detailing the new features. Tabs across the top will let you switch to between the various races, like President, House, and Senate, for example. The results will also include information like how many more electoral votes a presidential candidate needs to win, how many seats are up for grabs in the House and Senate, and how many Gubernatorial races are underway, among other things. This data is presented in an easy-to-read format, with Democrats in blue, Republicans in red, and simple graphs, alongside the key numbers.
Software

New Software Remembers Everything Your Computer Has Ever Displayed (cnn.com) 117

A Napster co-founder launched a new software this week which lets you search for anything you've ever looked at on your computer. schwit1 shared this report from CNNMoney: Atlas Informatics Founder and CEO Jordan Ritter calls the software "a photographic memory for your digital life"... This includes web pages, emails, Slack chats, Netflix films, Spotify songs, or anything else that's appeared in front of your eyes on your screen... You can search by keyword, content type or time, and it displays all related information based on relevancy. For instance, if two documents were open at the same time and you toggled between them, they will both appear whether or not they contain a keyword. Once installed on your hard drive and browser, Atlas Recall runs in the background and begins collecting your activity. The company captures all the content you've looked at and stores it on its servers.
It's encrypted before transmission to the Atlas Cloud servers, though you can block it from capturing data from certain applications, files, and web sites. "The platform wars are over, nobody won, and no one will ever win them again..." Ritter told CNNMoney. "What we want is something that works the way we use our devices and data."
Google

Google To Launch Streaming TV Service In Early 2017 (dslreports.com) 21

It looks like the internet search giant is expected to beat Apple to the punch by releasing its streaming TV service early next year. The Wall Street Journal notes that CBS has agreed to bring content to the service, while 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney are in the final stages of talks to add their content to the service. What's more is that the service is expected to be "housed under the YouTube brand." Karl Bode for DSLReports writes: The service, to be called "Unplugged," aims to be a "low-cost option targeting customers who either have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV or cut the cord due to rising costs." While Google sells traditional TV service in its Google Fiber footprint, subscriber numbers have been low for the service. An over the top service might be well received by the general public, but it also might provide promising if bundled with Google FIber's existing broadband offerings. Google is looking to offer a "skinny" bundle of live TV channels with a price in the range of $25 to $40 a month, states the Journal. The report also notes that the service will be entirely separate from YouTube Red, a subscription service ($10 or $13 for iOS users) that offers ad-free YouTube video viewing.
Google

Google To Divide Its Index, Giving Mobile Users Better and Fresher Content (searchengineland.com) 113

Desktop Google searches could soon feel slightly out of touch compared to those done via smartphones as the company begins to push mobile search. Google has said it is fully splitting its search index into two versions: a rapid updated mobile one, and a secondary search index for the desktop web. SearchEngineLand reports: The news came today during a keynote address from Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst with Google, at Pubcon. Illyes didn't give a timeline in his talk, but in a follow-up with Search Engine Land, he confirmed that it would happen within "months." Google first announced that it was experimenting with the idea of a mobile index last year at SMX East. Since that time, Google's clearly decided that a mobile index makes sense and is moving ahead with the idea. It's unclear exactly how the mobile index will work. For example, since the mobile index is the "primary" index, will it really not be used for any desktop queries? Will it only contain "mobile-friendly" content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be? Desktop usage is now a minority of Google queries but still generates substantial usage. The most substantial change will likely be that by having a mobile index, Google can run its ranking algorithm in a different fashion across "pure" mobile content rather than the current system that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.
Google

Google News Introduces Fact Check Feature -- Just In Time For the US Election (thenextweb.com) 367

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Google today introduced a new feature that will tag and help find "fact checking in large news stories." Tagged articles will show up in the new story box on news.google.com, as well as in the Google News and Weather app for iOS and Android in the US and UK. There's a two-pronged approach to detecting fact checking. First Google looks for actual markup in the site's source code. Then Google looks for pages "that follow the commonly accepted criteria for fact checks." You can learn more about the process here. To be clear, the tags show up in small grey text above the article links -- Google itself isn't passing judgement, nor does it tell you the source article's conclusion in search results. It's merely a sign that says "hey, read me to find out the truth." Still, it's a nice way to make sure readers are at least forming opinions based on fact rather than fiction.
Advertising

Yahoo Patents Smart Billboard That Would Deliver Targeted Ads To Passersby or Motorists (thestack.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has filed a patent for advertising billboards outfitted with a wide array of sensors -- including drone-based cameras -- which would use facial and vehicle recognition, data brokers, cell-tower information and social network information to attempt to identify worthwhile advertising targets and aim personalized ads at them as they pass on foot or in cars. The scheme, which was submitted on October 6th, anticipates using the same kind of micro-auction processes that currently determine which ads users see in webpages and mobile apps. The implementation of public ad-targeting brings up some fascinating and chilling prospects, as users find that the ads which "bloom" around them betray much about their private lives. Yahoo provides an example via its patent application: "According to one example, a digital billboard adjacent a busy freeway might be instrumented with or located near traffic sensors that detect information about the context of the vehicles approaching the billboard, e.g., the number and average speed of the vehicles. Such information might be used in conjunction with information about the time of day and/or the day of the week (e.g., Monday morning rush hour) to select advertisements for display that would appeal to an expected demographic and to display the advertisements for durations that are commensurate with the level of traffic congestion." The patent application also mentions how it will gather required information from individuals: "Various types of data (e.g., cell tower data, mobile app location data, image data, etc.) can be used to identify specific individuals in an audience in position to view advertising content. Similarly, vehicle navigation/tracking data from vehicles equipped with such systems could be used to identify specific vehicles and/or vehicle owners. Demographic data (e.g., as obtained from a marketing or user database) for the audience can thus be determined for the purpose of, for example, determining whether and/or the degree to which the demographic profile of the audience corresponds to a target demographic."
Businesses

55 Percent Of Online Shoppers Start Their Product Searches On Amazon (recode.net) 141

Another year, another data point showing Amazon has surpassed Google as the default search engine for shopping, a report on Recode reads. Fifty-five percent of people in the U.S. now start their online shopping trips on Amazon.com, according to results from a 2,000-person survey commissioned by the e-commerce startup BloomReach. That stat marks a 25 percent increase from the same survey last year, when 44 percent of online shoppers said they turned to Amazon first. From the report: Over the same time, the percentage of shoppers who start product searches on search engines like Google dropped from 34 percent to 28 percent. The number of online shoppers who check out a retailer's website (other than Amazon) first also shrunk, from 21 percent to 16 percent.
Microsoft

Microsoft Patents A User-Monitoring AI That Improves Search Results (hothardware.com) 68

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes a HotHardware article about Microsoft's new patent filing for an OS "mediation component": This is Microsoft's all-seeing-eye that monitors all textual input within apps to intelligently decipher what the user is trying to accomplish. All of this information could be gathered from apps like Word, Skype, or even Notepad by the Mediator and processed. So when the user goes to, for example, the Edge web browser to further research a topic, those contextual concepts are automatically fed into a search query.

The search engine (e.g., Bing and Cortana) uses contextual rankers to adjust the ranking of the default suggested queries to produce more relevant [results]. The operating system...tracks all textual data displayed to the user by any application, and then performs clustering to determine the user intent (contextually).

The article argues this feels "creepy and big brother-esque," and while Microsoft talks of defining a "task continuum," suggests the patent's process "would in essence keep track of everything you type and interact with in the OS and stockpile it in real-time to data-dump into Bing."
Google

Google Is Testing a Trending Stories Feature On Its Homepage (fortune.com) 29

Jeff John Roberts, reporting for Fortune: Google and its rival Facebook have transformed into giant media companies in recent years, working with news and video companies as part strategy to encourage consumers to stay on their platforms. Now, it appears Google is taking another big step in this direction by showing visitors three trending news stories on its home page -- right under its iconic search bar -- as well as three "trending topics." Google's decision to display trending news topics mirrors what Facebook has been doing in recent months, and will likely provide more grist for the debate over how the companies curate news, and their growing power over the media. The change to Google's homepage began to appear this week, though it does not appear to have been rolled out to many users.
Google

Google Search For Android Now Finds Info Hidden Inside Apps (pcworld.com) 40

An anonymous reader writes: First Google created a centralized place to search the web, and now Google has a centralized spot to search your Android phone. The company just announced a new feature for the Google App called In Apps. As its name implies, In Apps lets you search for content inside your Android apps, such as a specific song, contact, or note in Google Keep. To start, the new feature will only work with a select number of apps, including Gmail, Spotify, and YouTube. Google also has plans to add Evernote, Facebook Messenger, Glide, Google Keep, LinkedIn, and Todoist in the coming months. All app searches happen on your device itself, not Google's servers, which means you don't need an Internet connection to use the feature. It's not clear how often the app will index your content or how much of a hit it will take on your battery or device performance.
Businesses

Spotify Is Burying Tracks From Musicians Who Give Exclusives To Apple and Tidal (bloomberg.com) 87

The music-streaming market is very competitive these days, especially since Apple released Apple Music last year. In retaliation for musicians giving Apple exclusive access to their new music, Spotify has reportedly been making their songs harder to find on its service. Bloomberg reports: "Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won't be able to get their tracks on featuring playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people [familiar with the strategy], who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world's largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn't alter search rankings. Spotify has been using such practices for about a year, one of the people said, though others said the efforts have escalated over the past few months. Artists who have given exclusives to Tidal, the streaming service run by Jay Z, have also retaliated against, the person said, declining to identify specific musicians."

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