Category Archives: News

Blockbuster WSJ Investigation: How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results

Naked Capitalism
by Jerri-Lynn Scofield

Jerri-Lynn Scofield has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

The WSJ published a comprehensive investigation Friday, How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results, that provides fodder for ongoing or new antitrust investigations of the company,  both in the US, and worldwide:

THE JOURNAL’S FINDINGS undercut one of Google’s core defenses against global regulators worried about how it wields its immense power—that the company doesn’t exert editorial control over what it shows users. Regulators’ areas of concern include anticompetitive practices, political bias and online misinformation.

Permit to me quote from the WSJ’s takedown at length – although I encourage readers, if possible, to read the entire (paywalled)  version, for it contains a wealth of information, as well as lots of cool graphics:

Google’s evolving approach marks a shift from its founding philosophy of “organizing the world’s information,” to one that is far more active in deciding how that information should appear.

More than 100 interviews and the Journal’s own testing of Google’s search results reveal:

• Google made algorithmic changes to its search results that favor big businesses over smaller ones, and in at least one case made changes on behalf of a major advertiser, eBayInc., contrary to its public position that it never takes that type of action. The company also boosts some major websites, such as Amazon.com Inc.and Facebook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

• Google engineers regularly make behind-the-scenes adjustments to other information the company is increasingly layering on top of its basic search results. These features include auto-complete suggestions, boxes called “knowledge panels” and “featured snippets,” and news results, which aren’t subject to the same company policies limiting what engineers can remove or change.

• Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results. These moves are separate from those that block sites as required by U.S. or foreign law, such as those featuring child abuse or with copyright infringement, and from changes designed to demote spam sites, which attempt to game the system to appear higher in results.

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Students Witnessing California Shooting Produced Active Shooter ‘Instructional Video’ Months Ago

Event goes down amidst national debate on preparation/response methods to active shooter situations

VC Star/USA Today
(November 14, 2019)

When sophomore Elijah Mims, 15, performed in an active shooter training video for a class project earlier this school year, the Santa Clarita native never thought he’d actually be running for his life.

“We were just preparing for the worst, but we never thought anything would occur in a suburb like Santa Clarita. It’s such a lovely place,” Mims told USA TODAY in a phone interview.

In the instructional video, Mims played the role of a “person who was hiding,” later demonstrating to students how they could safely escape an active shooter situation. On Thursday, Mims found himself a few feet away from an armed classmate. He sprinted into an empty classroom, where he huddled quietly with dozens of other students until police entered the room.

“The video helped me out since I reacted right away and was able to do what I needed,” Mims said.

The school shooting that killed two and injured at least three people at Saugus High School Thursday comes amid a national debate around how to prepare for and respond to active shooter situations, with some schools and policymakers advocating a range of tactics — from “bulletproof backpacks” to curved hallways.

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House Votes in Favor of Disastrous Copyright Bill

Senate Can Still Stop CASE Act

Electronic Frontier Foundation
(October 23, 2019)

The House of Representatives has just voted in favor of the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) by 410-6 (with 16 members not voting), moving forward a bill that Congress has had no hearingsand no debates on so far this session. That means that there has been no public consideration of the serious harm the bill could do to regular Internet users and their expression online.

The CASE Act creates a new body in the Copyright Office which will receive copyright complaints, notify the person being sued, and then decide if money is owed and how much. This new Copyright Claims Board will be able to fine people up to $30,000 per proceeding. Worse, if you get one of these notices (maybe an email, maybe a letter—the law actually does not specify) and accidentally ignore it, you’re on the hook for the money with a very limited ability to appeal. $30,000 could bankrupt or otherwise ruin the lives of many Americans.

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Tulsi Gabbard Blasts Hillary Clinton as “Queen of the Warmongers”

Information Liberation
(October 18, 2019)

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Rep Tulsi Gabbard slammed Hillary Clinton on Friday as the “queen of all warmongers” after the former secretary of state suggested Gabbard is an agent of the Russkies. 

From NBC News:

Hillary Clinton says she believes that the Russians have “got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.”

In a recent interview, Clinton didn’t mention Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii by name, but said she believes one candidate is “the favorite of the Russians.” Asked if the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, “If the nesting doll fits…”

Cringe. 

Tulsi had a great response: 

Tulsi Gabbard@TulsiGabbard

Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …297K4:20 PM – Oct 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy138K people are talking about this

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Popping Balloons Sparked Panic at Boca Mall (Video)

Julius Wingham II
Palm Beach Post
(October 17, 2019)

Fears of an armed gunman led Town Center at Boca Raton to shut down Sunday afternoon. One person was injured in the rush to leave the mall.

BOCA RATON – Panic, confusion and the popping of not one balloon but two marked the first moments of what was thought to be an active gunman event at Town Center at Boca Raton on Sunday, according to 911 audio and video recordings city police released Thursday.

“I think there’s a shooting,” one woman calling from the Neiman Marcus store, just off the mall food court from where the booming sounds emanated, told city dispatchers.

“We’re in Boca Town Center mall, we don’t know what’s going on. . . . People are just running,” reported another woman calling from the Grand Lux Cafe, near an entrance on Town Center’s north side.

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Colleges Are Tracking Applicants’ Browser History, According to New Report

AJ Dellinger
Mic

(October 15, 2019)

If you’re in the process of applying for college, be warned that it isn’t just your grades and extracurricular activities that are being reviewed by schools. According to a report from the Washington Post, at least 44 public and private universities across the United States have started to work with third-party companies to collect and track data on prospective students, including web browsing activity and financial history. These practices could lead to schools favoring students based on financial incentives for the school, placing students from low-income backgrounds at a disadvantage.

According to the Post, the tracking process begins as soon as a student first directs their browser to a school’s website. Many schools have started to implement tracking software on their sites that are able to identify a person based on other online activity. This type of software, often called a cookie, is typically associated with online advertising. When you visit a site searching for boots, for instance, and all of a sudden start seeing advertisements for boots on other sites, it’s because of tracking cookies. In the case of these schools, those cookies are used to gauge a person’s interest in the university. It tracks their activity, on site and off, and can use data about the person’s location and interests to determine who the student is. That information is given to the admissions office to pair with existing data about the student, including their name, contact information, and additional details about their life like when they are graduating and what areas of the school they showed interest in based on activity on the site, and where the student lives.

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Boca Raton Police defend Mall Shoppers From ‘Loud Noise’

Authorities issue conflicting reports in wake of mass hysteria; Unusual Tweeted photo

BOCA POLICE (CBSMiami) – The Boca Police Department says a person hurt at Town Center Mall was not shot, and suffered a trauma wound, despite earlier reports that stated there was an active shooter at the mall.

Boca PD corrected an earlier tweet around 6:00 p.m. Sunday which said one person with a gunshot wound was transported to Delray Medical Center.

The corrected tweet says the person may have a “POSSIBLE gunshot wound,” and the Chief of Police told CBS4’s Amber Diaz that victim was not shot.

Boca Raton Police@BocaPolice

Correction: One person with a POSSIBLE gunshot wound transported to Delray Medical Center.

SWAT teams are continuing to clear the mall and evacuate people. If you are still in the mall, please stay sheltered in place until officers evacuate you. @BocaPolice2095:55 PM – Oct 13, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy147 people are talking about this

It’s still unclear how the person, who was taken to Delray Medical Center, sustained the wound. The person’s condition was not reported.

At a 5:30 p.m. news conference, Boca police described the victim’s injury as a trauma wound. The victim did not sustain life-threatening injuries.

There were several other minor injuries due to trips and falls of people running to escape the chaos.

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