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Hypocritical Facebook scores PR own-goal with sleazy attack on Google privacy

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Facebook has been left red-faced after having to admit that it hired a PR agency to plant negative stories with the press about privacy concerns on Google.

The irony is, of course, that Facebook is hardly a shining example of how an online firm should protect its users’ privacy.

Here’s what happened:

* Facebook secretly hired giant public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to seed stories in the media about privacy concerns with Google Social Search.

Google Social Search example

The Social Search feature of Google scours the web for publicly available information about you from sites such as Twitter, Yelp, Picasa, and FriendFeed, and displays it in the search results of your online friends.

* Facebook’s plan backfired badly when Burson-Marsteller approached former FTC investigator and blogger Christopher Soghoian offering him the story, but refusing to reveal who its client was. An unimpressed Soghoian published the email exchange.

Amid much speculation, The Daily Beast news website revealed that the firm pulling Burson-Marsteller’s strings was Facebook.

* Facebook confirmed it had hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller to promote the company’s position against Google’s Social Search facility and admitted that it should have presented the issues in a “a serious and transparent way”.

This wouldn’t necessarily have been a problem, if the PR agency had been up-front that it was representing Facebook when pitching the anti-Google stories in the first place. What is seedy is that Facebook’s involvement was deliberately hidden.

This whole story reeks of poor judgement by Facebook and its PR agency.

And it’s rather hypocritical for Facebook to point fingers at possible questions over Google’s attitude to privacy, when its own house is in such a mess.

For instance, Facebook recommends that users adopt privacy settings that can reveal their personal data to anyone on the internet.

Facebook's recommended privacy settings

Don’t believe me? Read the small print in Facebook’s privacy policy:

"Information set to 'everyone' is publicly available information, may be accessed by everyone on the Internet (including people not logged into Facebook), is subject to indexing by third party search engines, may be associated with you outside of Facebook (such as when you visit other sites on the internet), and may be imported and exported by us and others without privacy limitations."

"The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to 'everyone.' You can review and change the default settings in your privacy settings. If you delete 'everyone' content that you posted on Facebook, we will remove it from your Facebook profile, but have no control over its use outside of Facebook."

In other words, if you make your Facebook information available to “everyone”, it actually means “everyone, forever”. Because even if you change your mind, it’s too late – and although Facebook say they will remove it from your profile they will have no control about how it is used outside of Facebook.

If Facebook really cared about your privacy online, wouldn’t it recommend more privacy-conscious settings and not default to sharing your profile information with search engines?

Facebook public search

If you’re interested in being safer on Facebook, read more about the security and privacy challenges that exist for Facebook users. You could also do a lot worse than follow the advice in our step-by-step guide for better security and privacy on Facebook.

And, if you’re a regular user of Facebook, be sure to join the Sophos page on Facebook to be kept informed of the latest security threats.

Full disclosure: Parts of Sophos, although not Naked Security, use Burson-Marsteller on some PR projects.

Source :- http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com

For Top News Sites, Facebook Drives More Traffic Than Twitter

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Facebook is a more valuable source of traffic to top news sites than Twitter, according a Pew Research Center study released Monday.

The study looked at Nielsen data from the 25 news websites with the highest number of unique monthly visitors. About 35% to 40% of traffic to the sites came from links on other sites, as opposed to readers typing in a URL directly or clicking to another page on the same site.

Unsurprisingly, Google dominated this referral traffic. On average, the company’s search and news products accounted for about 30% of all clicks. But Facebook also referred a significant percentage of each site’s audience.

The Huffington Post was boosted the most by Facebook referrals, which accounted for 8% of its unique visitors. The New York Times derived 6% of its traffic from the social network.

“These percentages represent only a fraction of the traffic coming from Google,” says the study. “But they make Facebook an influential and probably growing force. As Nielsen’s numbers show, few domains affect audiences this much.”

For all its success at breaking news, Twitter did not have the same effect. The site with the highest percentage of traffic from Twitter, The Los Angeles Times, could only credit the micro-blogging platform with 3.53% of its traffic. Twitter referred a much smaller percentage of traffic to other sites in the study.

Part of the discrepancy between Facebook and Twitter referrals is their disparate user bases. Facebook has more than 500 million users while Twitter has 200 million accounts — many of them inactive.

But referral clout is not just a question of user numbers. The Drudge Report, a veteran news aggregation site, was the second or third ranked referral site to more than half of the sites studied. For example, the Drudge Report provided more than 30% of traffic to British newspaper The Daily Mail, 19% of traffic to the New York Post, 15% to The Washington Post, and 11% to the Boston Globe.

 Source :- http://mashable.com

Google Experimenting With Redesigned Search Results Page

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google has begun testing a new design for its search engine results page, one that sports a new color scheme and a lot more white space.

A Google representative confirmed to us the company is conducting one of its user tests. As you can see from the screenshot below, the redesign results page incorporates a tweaked color scheme. The greens, purples and blues are not as harsh as the current set of colors used on Google.com.

The bigger changes focus on separating and spacing out individual search results. There is simply a lot more white space around each search result and each link. Also, each search result is divided by a dashed line.

Combined, the changes are rather dramatic for a search engine used by millions of people daily. Google is gathering data on how people react to the new changes. Those numbers will determine whether or not these changes will move out of testing and become permanent.

This isn’t the only Google experiment to make headlines this month. On Monday, the tech giant began testing Voice Search integration on Google.com.

Check out screenshot, and let us know what you think of the changes in the comments.

Screenshot courtesy of TwitPic, chanian

Source : – http://mashable.com

Google Named Most Reputable Company in U.S

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google Inc an American public corporation is now recognized the world over as the fastest search engine. It is an easy to use free service that conveys relevant information in a matter of seconds to the user.

Harris Interactive poll asked about 30,000 people in the US to express their opinion on the 60 most visible companies in the US and rate them on the basis of 20 different categories like finance, leadership, social appeal etc.

Google has topped the list of the most reputed company in the US. Harris Interactive has rated Google with 84.05/100 which indicates excellent performance. Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Sony and Amazon are the other technology companies rated over 80 but Google tops them all.

Insurance, Banks and oil companies were rated the least and AIG was given the worst reputation with 47.77. BP, the company known for its worst oil spills followed next.

Google definitely enjoys total supremacy and has appealed to the masses even when government investigations and privacy concerns have tried to tarnish its image. It is also indicative of the fact that more and more people are connected to the web. Google’s product and service quality has made them accessible to millions.

Source:- http://www.clickindia.com

Facebook Takes 31.2% of the U.S. Ad Display Market

Quel ricco sfondato di Mark Zuckerberg, founde...

Image via Wikipedia

Facebook now claims nearly a third of all U.S. display advertising impressions with 346.4 billion in the first quarter, more than double what it garnered in the comparable quarter in 2010, according to a new report.

The research, by comScore, estimates that Facebook now has 31.2% of U.S. advertising display impressions, up from 25.9% in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 15.6% in Q1 2010. At the current pace, Facebook will easily surpass 1 trillion impressions for the year.

The total number of U.S. impressions was 1.1 trillion for the first quarter. Facebook’s closest competitor is Yahoo’s network of sites, which claimed 10.1% of the market. Google, which is still relatively new to the display business, had 2.5%. The chart below shows Facebook’s rise since January 2010.

The latest numbers are proof, if anyone needed it, that Facebook’s advertising business is off to a running start in 2011. Facebook’s dominance in the market has prompted it to raise its ad unit prices by 40% according to one report while another speculated that the company’s IPO could be in the $100 billion range next year. Facebook’s business is growing faster than previously thought.

This recent report also notes that AT&T was once again the biggest display advertiser on the web with 19.4 billion impressions or 1.8% of the total market. Number two was Experian with 16.6 billion and 1.1%.

Image courtesy of Flickr, denneyterrio

Source : – http://mashable.com

Google Dissolves Search Group Internally, Now Called “Knowledge”

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google has seven major product groups. Advertising, Commerce & Local, Mobile (Android), Social, Chrome, YouTube and Search. Search is, of course, Google’s first and most important product. But that group actually no longer exists internally. As of April, when Larry Page took over as CEO of the company, the search group was renamed the “knowledge group” internally.

Google confirms the change. And, they point out, it was actually publicly announced in an SEC filing made on April 11. Nobody seems to have noticed that someone was named the SVP of a Google product group that previously hadn’t existed.

Why the change? That’s a longer story.

Leadership of Google search, like most other Google products, was previously split between Marissa Mayer as product lead and Udi Manber as engineering lead. Late last year Mayer moved over to run Local. Alan Eustace now runs the group, and Manber reports to him. There’s a single leader of the group, and he reports to Page.

Page, say our sources, has for a long while been thinking of search as much more than Google’s original mission to “organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” His goal is about more than organizing that information, though. It’s also about enhancing people’s understanding and facilitating the creation of knowledge.

The problem is, “search” still means “search.” And as Google has expanded that product over the years, first bringing in results from Google’s vertical search engines via Universal Search in 2007, and later via Google Squared, which structures information on the Internet.

And there have been other experiments as well. Google Base, for example, as well as Google Knol.

In fact, look back at this 2007 Google blog post about Knol, where Manber says “The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal.”

These product efforts have generally been led by Manber in the past. And they remain in the search/knowledge group today.

Here’s how Google currently views the group. Remember that previously they split it up between Mayer (product) and Manber (engineering). But today Eustace is the overall lead. Manber reports to Eustace and focuses on finding ways to improve the knowledge out there and to encourage more high quality content creation, whether it’s on Google’s servers (Knol) or not.

Amit Singhal, Manber’s peer, focuses on the more traditional goals of search, such as the recent algorithm changes called Panda targeting content farms.

One way of thinking of this, says a source with knowledge of the group, is this. Singhal does the weeding (removing and pushing down low quality content in search), and Manber is focused on the seeding (encouraging “good stuff” to grow).

This isn’t supposed to be information that helps outsiders understand how Google operates, which is probably why Google made the SEC statement in as few words as possible and didn’t publicize it at all. Instead, it’s to make sure that the team inside Google understands that they aren’t just working on search. It’s not just about organization, it’s about enhancement of knowledge.

Other than confirming the creation of the Knowledge group to supplant the Search group, Google won’t comment on the personnel changes or the subtle shifts in strategy. For now, says one source, all Google wants to do is align everyone internally. When, and if, Google talks about this more publicly is a mystery.

Source :- http://techcrunch.com

Osama bin Laden dead – so watch for the spams and scams

A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden video

Image via Wikipedia

Google‘s top-trending Anglophone search term right now is, understandably, “osama bin laden dead”.

Google officially describes its hotness (you couldn’t make this stuff up) as volcanic.

The short version, according to the LA Times, is that bin Laden was tracked to a “comfortable mansion surrounded by a high wall in a small town near Islamabad, Pakistan‘s capital.”

For bin Laden, it seems, the comfort is no more. “On Sunday, a ‘small team’ of Americans raided the compound. After a firefight, [President Obama], they killed Bin Laden.” Apparently, DNA tests have confirmed Bin Laden’s identity.

And there you have it.

Now you know the basics – but watch out for the links you’re likely to come across in email or on social networking sites offering you additional coverage of this newsworthy event.

Many of the links you see will be perfectly legitimate links. But at least some are almost certain to be dodgy links, deliberately distributed to trick you into hostile internet territory.

If in doubt, leave it out!

Sometimes, poisoned content is rather obvious. The links in this spam captured by SophosLabs, for example, give the impression of going to a news site:

The links don’t go anywhere of the sort, of course. Wherever you click, you end up finding out how to replace your tired old windows:

But even well-meant searches using your favourite search engine might end in tears.

What’s commonly called “Black-Hat Search Engine Optimisation” (BH-SEO) means that cybercrooks can often trick the secret search-ranking algorithms of popular search engines by feeding them fake pages to make their rotten content seem legitimate, and to trick you into visiting pages which have your worst interests at heart.

Well-known topics that have been widely written about for years are hard to poison via BH-SEO. The search engines have a good historical sense of which sites are likely to be genuinely relevant if your interest is searches like “Commonwealth of Australia“, “Canadian Pacific Railway” or “Early history of spam”.

But a search term which is incredibly popular but by its very nature brand new – “Japanese tsunami”, “William and Kate engagement”, “Kate Middleton wedding dress” or, of course, “Osama bin Laden dead” – doesn’t give the search engines much historical evidence to go on.

Of course, the search engines want to be known for being highly responsive to new trends – that means more advertising revenue for them, after all – and that means, loosely speaking, that they have to take more of a chance on accuracy.

What can you do to keep safe?

* Don’t blindly trust links you see online, whether in emails, on social networking sites, or from searches. If the URL and the subject matter don’t tie up in some obvious way, give it a miss.

* Use an endpoint security product which offers some sort of web filtering so you get early warning of poisoned content. (Sophos Endpoint Security and Control and the Sophos Web Appliance are two examples.)

* If you go to a site expecting to see information on a specific topic but get redirected somewhere unexpected – to a “click here for a free security scan” page, for instance, or to a survey site, or to a “download this codec program to view the video” dialog – then get out of there at once. Don’t click further. You’re being scammed.

Source :- http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com

Gmail enables Sending emails in Background

Shows warning in case of any error to fix it

Google’s Gmail Labs is known for making nifty tweaks to the email service and thereby making it more efficient. This time, Google has added a new Background Send feature in Gmail Labs that lets users carry on with other tasks while the emails will continue being sent in background.

New Background Send feature can be enabled by accessing the Gmail Labs options available in Settings. Once you’ve enabled it, all you have to do is hit Send after you’ve composed an email and then carry on checking other emails.

Here’s a condition which indeed is important – browser tab/window needs to be active while sending email. Means you need to be logged in and must have an active connection. Enabling Background Send, hitting Send button and then simply shutting down the PC or Mac won’t guarantee that your mail has been sent.

In case the recipients address is not correct or if there’s any other issue while sending an email in background, Gmail will show a warning message on top of your Inbox. The warning message will offer you an option to fix it instantly or fix it later. On a successful dispatch of messages, user will receive text – your message has been sent, just above the Inbox.

What we can notice here is that slowly, Gmail is acting like a proper application with background sending of messages. Though it’s not more of a visual effect, it’s still quite an implementation.

Source :- Techtree Blog

Google Offers Easier Way to Transfer Video From Google Video to YouTube

Google’s listening. After notifying the world last week that Google Video was shutting down with no videos viewable after April 29, and giving users until May 13 to download them before they would be removed, Google’s backed away from that.

Numerous voices spoke out, asking why Google couldn’t create a quick way to transfer videos from Google Video to another of its video services, YouTube. Good news: The company’s done just that.

Besides eliminating that ominous April 29 deadline, Google says it’s “working to automatically migrate your Google Videos to YouTube.” In the meantime, Google’s added an “Upload Videos to YouTube” option, making it easy to send videos from a Google Video account to an associated YouTube account.

Here are the details from Google, posted on Google’s Webmaster Central blog on Friday and sent out to all Google video users early on April 23:

Dear Google Video User,
Last week we sent an email letting you know we would be ending playbacks of Google Videos on April 29 and providing instructions on how to download videos currently hosted on the platform. Since then we’ve received feedback from you about making the migration off of Google Video easier. We work every day to make sure you have a great user experience and should have done better. Based on your feedback, here’s what we’re doing to fix things.
Google Video users can rest assured that they won’t be losing any of their content and we are eliminating the April 29 deadline. We will be working to automatically migrate your Google Videos to YouTube. In the meantime, your videos hosted on Google Video will remain accessible on the web and existing links to Google Videos will remain accessible. If you want to migrate to YouTube now, here’s how you do it:
We’ve created an “Upload Videos to YouTube” option on the Google Video status page. To do this, you’ll need to have a YouTube account associated with your Google Video account (you can create one here). Before doing this you should read YouTube’s Terms of Use and Copyright Policies. If you choose this option, we’ll do our best to ensure your existing Google Video links continue to function.

If you’d prefer to download your videos from Google Video, that option is still available.
As we said nearly two years ago, the team is now focused on tackling the tough challenge of video search. We want to thank the millions of people around the world who have taken the time to create and share videos on Google Video. We hope today’s improvements will help ease your transition to another video hosting service.
Thank you for being a Google Video user.
Sincerely,
Mark Dochtermann Google Video Team

It’s great to see Google taking action on this, but we’re wondering why the company didn’t offer this option in the first place.

Source -: Mashable Blog

The Web Goes Green for Earth Day

April 22, is the day when we celebrate our planet and its resources that should be preserved. In case you forgot, the web will remind you it’s Earth Day.

As always, many popular websites are raising awareness about this day; this year Google is celebrating with an animated, interactive Doodle on its homepage and Yahoo also sports a cute animated logo in a similar vein.

Ask.com, besides being dressed in an Earthy theme, offers the answers to some important questions about the environment.

Besides featuring a special logo, Aol’s front page story brings some of the most amazing photos of the Earth taken from space, and Microsoft Bing regularly features some beautiful photos taken from all around the globe, and today is no exception.

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