Google eyes...

THAT’S IT, you give everything away – and there is nothing you can do about it, except move to ‘another world’. Privacy is one of our most treasured possessions. We fight for it, we hide behind it and we vilify the Fourth Estate for abusing it and yet today, March 1, 2012, almost all of us abandoned it for no other real reason than to make Google immeasurably richer.

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Google shame

HARD-WORKING IT consultant Toni Bennett was horrified the day he checked internet reviews about his business. Google was telling the world that he was paedophile.

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Google and Rosie

AUTHOR ROSIE Alison recently asked to check out reviews of her books on its site. The author had started to see a patten developing in negative reviews which she feared was an online "stalker".

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Facts or fiction?

GOOGLE is said to be the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. For all searches - experts say - Google records the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date and search terms.

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Google's 'wall of graffiti' is whitewashed by UK judge

Google's wall of grafiti

GOOGLE is just a great big world-wide wall of graffiti – and that is the truth according to the British judicial system.

A High Court judge has drawn a bizarre analogy between Google's vast and rickety bank of information to a back street wall sprayed with meaningless graffiti and hyroglyphics. And because anybody can go and spray Google's wall whenever they feel like it with anything feel like spraying the judge says the world's biggest search engine cannot be held responsible for libellous or offensive content.

Mr Justice Eady decided the internet giant was not actually bound by the normal laws regulating terrestrial publishers. And in a worrying judgement he gave the company immunity from English defamation laws.

In the judgement, which will have huge implications for freedom of speech in the UK, he said: "It is no doubt often true that the owner of a wall which has been festooned, overnight, with defamatory graffiti could acquire scaffolding and have it all deleted with whitewash.

"That is not necessarily to say, however, that the unfortunate owner must, unless and until this has been accomplished, be classified as a publisher."

Mr G's Got the Blues as Google goes GAGA!

THERE might not be an official word in Swedish for "ungoogleable", meaning "impossible to find via web search". But mark my words, there used to be.

The Language Council of Sweden, which oversees the addition of new words to the official Swedish lexicon, had lined up ogooglebar, to become an official part of the language.

Then Google lawyers heard about this accolade to a household name and told the council they did not want its trademark used. And the world's largest internet search company even rewrote this small enclave of a charming language saying it should be "something that cannot be found on the web using Google".

The council decided Google had gone gaga and dropped the word from its list: "We are deleting the word, marking our displeasure with Google's attempts to control the language," the council's director, Ann Cederberg, said.

"One purpose of the neologisms list is to show how society and language development interact with each other. Google wanted to amend the definition and add a disclaimer about its trademark. The Language Council has tried to explain the purpose of the list. We do not deviate from our basic approach to language …" Cederberg said.

Google, she said "has forgotten one thing: language development does not care about brand protection".

A Google representative said: "While Google, like many businesses, takes routine steps to protect our trademarks, we are pleased that users connect the Google name with great search results."

So, now google, the company which undoubtedly rides rough-shod over copyright for music, novels, intellectual properties,

pictures, photographs, videos and personal endeavour, doesn't now only want to own the darkest secrets of each and everyone on this earth, it also wants world respect for it's rather silly title.

And as of now Google has officially started controlling the very words we speak.

But does Google really belong to Google? Let's take a quick trip down memory lane ...

The Urban Dictionary says this: "When a person sees someone they like a lot. The way they look at them when they can not find the words to express how they feel. It can just be an expression like 'He's got me all googly eyes'."

The actual word is derived from Googol, the mathematical term for the figure one followed by 100 zeros. The term was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, and was popularized in the book, "Mathematics and the Imagination" by Kasner and James Newman.

And what about all the people across the world who are afflicted by the surname google - Cuc Google, for instance in the Phillipines, Emilio Google in Canada, Joey Google in the UK and Veronika Google in the US. When will Google try to get them to change their names?

But maybe Google should check this out and perhaps show a little bit of respect to music, language and history ... Mr. Google Eyes himself.

He looms large in the history of New Orleans R&B. His first sides pre-date the recordings of Fats Domino.

Born Joseph Augustus on September 13, 1931, as a teen he worked as a delivery boy for local restaurateur Dooky Chase, who named "Google Eyes" because he couldn't keep his eyes off the women!

He eventually had a steady gig at the local Downbeat Club, appearing opposite Roy Brown. Often billing himself as "Mr. Google Eyes," sometimes he appeared as simply "Mr. G," a nickname conferred after a performance in support of Billy Eckstine, himself Mr. E.

So Google - if you don't like what we the merely simple human crew want to do with our own language, why don't you change your name to something original and let us do what we will with our history?

Google slaps Europe in grand privacy rip-off

HERE'S another example of Google acting like the self-appointed god of the grand glowering world of cyberspace ...

The internet search engine which seems to become more and more agog at its own expanding power has decided now that it knows better than the European Union’s justice commissioner.

In a recent interview with the BBC the EU’s powerful Viviane Reding stated clearly that Google had not applied "transparency rules".

Google’s invasive privacy change, which came in last Thursday, means private data collected by any one of Google’s services is now shared with all its other platforms which include YouTube, Gmail and Blogger.

Reding said she would have preferred Google to halt its implementation until questions about the policy's compliance with EU data protection rules have been resolved.

"It is unfortunate that Google has gone ahead with the new policy before addressing the French data protection authority's concerns. All companies that offer services to European consumers must provide their customers with clear information about their privacy policy. In Europe, consumers must be able to make informed decisions about using Internet-based

Reding's comments were made a few days after French data protection authority CNIL wrote a letter to Google asking the company to halt the changes.

Because, CNIL says, the new policies appear to break rules related to how Google informs users it is using their personal data.

Google however says it believes its new policy – which is all to do with targeted advertising - complies with EU law. A Google statement said: "We are confident that our new simple, clear and transparent privacy policy respects all European data protection laws and principles."

It said the new set-up would enable it to tailor search results more effectively, as well as offer better targeted advertising to users.

It went ahead with the changes despite data regulators in France launching a Europe-wide investigation.

The regulators said: "The CNIL and EU data authorities are deeply concerned about the combination of personal data across services. They have strong doubts about the lawfulness and fairness of such processing, and its compliance with European data protection legislation."

Many websites and blogs in the technology community have given guidance for users concerned about how their browsing history will be used.

They suggest users can access, and delete their browsing and search history on the site by logging in to A similar page for YouTube viewing and search history can also be accessed. Users can see which Google services hold data about them by viewing their dashboard.

Google 'mapped out disaster' for shocked unhappy snapper Gary

Google takes the p*!!, says angry French villager… and it’s no joke

US PHOTOGRAPHER Gary Beal thought Google Maps was the way to show the world the way to his front door.

He was a great believer in good old fashioned customer recommendation as a business booster and decided that review sites accessed by Google were the way to go; they were the hi-tech version of word-of-mouth after all.

Gary said: "When you start a business you need exposure, to tell people about yourself, to tell them that you're operating. The modern way to do it is put your website up onto something like local businesses by Google Maps and wait for people to confirm that you are a fair trader, a stand-up guy."

And then his first review flashed up on his screen. He was horrified. The review purported to be by a photography company from the same town, Cream Photography.

"I couldn't believe it," Gary said, “They were obviously using my own site against me by posting a bad review. They were attempting to steal my customers by damaging my reputation. It was a bad review and the only one there, the competition around here is so stiff that no-one's going to pick up the telephone and phone me after reading that."

The offending review claimed Gary's prices were too high and that Cream could provide a better service. Immediately Gary e-mailed Cream and complained about the accusations.

But he was in for another, more sinister shock. The review was a fake and Google was allowing it to sit on the site broadcast lies to the world about his business.

EVERYBODY has those private moments - you know, certain things we do that we don't want to share with our loved-ones. And certainly not our neighbours. Not bad things or even particularly embarrassing things, but things you tend to do when your alone...

...when you're caught short for instance.

Yes, this is another story of the insensitivity Google shows to the residents of our world who simply want to get on with their business in private. It's a story about a man doing what comes naturally, not a major event in his life - and some people might even have been happy to let it go, for it to become water under the bridge so to speak.

But other people, like this member of a charming French village community in the Maine-et-Loire district of north-western France, decided Google was taking the p*!! and want to do something about it.

Here's what happened:

The man, whose name is being omitted from most reports to protect his dignity, was pottering around his smallholding when he felt the urge. There was nobody around so he – as many men do, much to the annoyance of their spouses I can confirm – decided to relieve himself in the privacy of a corner of his own backyard.

Nothing wrong with that at all, you might say. Or, if you sit on the other side of the fence, a bit unsavoury and a bit insanitary. But it's hardly a crime warranting a public pillorying before your neighbours and contemporaries.

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IN THE good old days when citizenship was seen as a constitutional guarantee of equality there was a job that people like me always coveted.

It was the slightly pompous job of critic, or reviewer. It was the job that got you places - to the theatre, to the best restaurants in town. It got you to Royal Command Performances, it allowed you to ricochet amongst the stars.

Being a critic gave you the power to make or break people, businesses and careers. But way back then - in those good old days - there were rules and there were editors, there was libel and deformation.

But Now is Now and we're in the 2000s, the century that gave the world unfettered freedom of speech. Sadly, few of us have any idea what to do with it. In the 2000s we all got the right to express ourselves publicly and at the same time we got the world's biggest platform - GOOGLE!

And without conscience, control or care the monstrous Google is now careening lawlessly and endlessly around the world eating up people and spitting out the remains of their lives.

Google is the platform for faceless

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Google's trip to a place where 'trust' was finally lost

THINGS are so bad out in the wonderful world of cyber comment and honesty that TripAdvisor has been ordered to rewrite its 'marketing manual' by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority.

It's almost 10 years since it published its first holiday review and the site is one of the internet's success stories, in terms of Google and other search traffic.

And more than 50 million reviews have now been published on the site. Basically, TripAdvisor allows people to share their experiences of hotels, flights, restaurants and tourist attractions.

American Steve Kaufer, set up the site more than a decade ago, after being unable to get information for a trip to Mexico except from glossy brochures supplied by travel agents.

Now it is one of the most powerful agencies in the travel industry.

The ASA ruling follows complaints by hotels that the site had claimed its holiday reviews could be "trusted". The ASA said it was concerned that consumers might be fooled by fraudulent posts since the entries could be made "without any form of verification".

The ASA said that the US-based firm's site originally carried statements saying that it contained "reviews that you can trust" and that it had...

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Google and the beet generation

Google and the beet generation

OKAY, somebody help me! Does Schrute Farms in North eastern Pennsylvania really exist or not?

On the one hand Google says it does – and on the other Google says it doesn't. It's got me beet to say the least.

NBC is apparently working on a spin-off of its own dire version of the UK's TV hit The Office which will star actor Rainn Wilson. The new show will be about Schrute Farms. Hmmm, things get stranger...

Now the mystery of Schrute Farms actually came out of a 2007 episode of The Office. It was described as an "agri-tourism" bed and breakfast in which guests take part in demonstrations of beet wine-making, and inexplicably digging in to manure. The B&B is said to have three rooms with different themes, America, Irrigation, and Night-time.

It all seems a bit far-fetched and, dare I say unsavoury, but Shrute Farm's TripAdvisor page has got 875 reviews which give it and average rating of 4 to 5. How's that happen then?

In the episode of The Office that introduced the farm, Dwight Schrute said: “TripAdvisor is the life-blood of the agro-tourism industry. A couple of bad reviews there, you may as well close up shop. That's what took down the Stalk Inn; one of the cutest little asparagus farms you'll ever see.”

So now it appears something which doesn't actually exist is doing extremely well on a reviews site which has undoubtedly caused problems in the past for real companies. It's a funny world out there in cyber space isn't it.

TripAdvisor, according to the New York Times, has cashed in on the fame of the farm fable. The NYT reports TripAdvisor as saying: “We don’t have a big marketing budget and don’t do TV ads, so this was the big time.”

TripAdvisor decided to keep the listing live. But then complaints came in from people who wanted to go and stay there. TripAdvisor did the honourable thing and put up a notice saying: “As seen on NBC's The Office. Have fun reading these reviews - go on, add your own! Just don't try to book a visit here, because this fictional place doesn't really exist."

But this story just goes to show that the power of review sites like this and the power of Google's search engine can turn a bit of telly fun into a strange reality.

Google – do you want the bad news or … yes the bad news?

NO GOLD stars for Google whose searches on rogue plumber Rodney Goldson told prospective clients what a good operator he was.

Rodney was actually a bit of a plonker who specialised in boilers and, according to the BBC, ripping people off– they claimed he really turned up the heat when unsuspecting customers called him in after reading rave reviews on the net about his firm Goldstar Gas and Heating Services, based in Mitcham, South London.

(Rodney's firm shouldn't be confused with other companies across the country with similar names – Rodney's based in Mitcham!)

One of his victims Mary Anne Ker owns her daughter Samantha's house in Tooting. Samantha shares it with friends. Their heating failed last March so they checked out Goldstar Gas and Heating Services on the net and found rave reviews. Highly recommended, at least one site said.

Well with glowing reviews around him like a halo Rodney turned up at the job and asked if Samantha if she wanted 'the bad news or the bad news'. He condemned the boiler.

The BBC's Watchdog programme said he told Samantha 'it was dangerous, that there was a problem with the carbon monoxide poisoning, that the boiler was sparking and singeing a back wall'. The price to fix it £5,500.

A couple of weeks after...

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Google Upsets the Mighty Amazon...

PUBLISH and be damned has taken on a whole new meaning in the cyber world and books giant Amazon is a major victim.

The world's biggest bookshop has revealed that as soon as it publishes one of its famous guide books it is hit by a flurry of malicious reviews. What's so shameful about this revelation is the fact that Amazon has checked the fake reviews out and discovered who's behind them.

Literary world hang your heads in shame … it's almost certainly jealous authors and publishing houses.

Amazon said: "Since first publishing our guide books, each year Amazon has been receiving a number of inaccurate and hostile reviews posted against each book. We value constructive criticism but where inaccurate and hostile reviews are concerned we have to advise our potential readers of these attacks and their malicious intent."

The internet literary phenomenon has spotted that the majority of the posts arrive in Spring, at the perceived beginning of the book season, and are obviously aimed at hitting burgeoning sales. But the attacks carry on throughout the year.

Amazon said: “As books receive complementary reviews from real readers the bad ones arrive alongside them. All emanate from a person or persons who have never posted a review on any other product. Where the origin has been confirmed, it is invariably from a competing author or publication

"All those posted against our books contain totally inaccurate comments and 'invented' criticisms with no relevance to the true book content. We have therefore asked Amazon to investigate the origin of the offending reviews."

Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors, confirmed the problem happened "quite often."

Google could learn from the people who really care

THE director of a website where parents rate childcare has pledged that malicious comments will be cleaned off their site immediately they appear.

The Good Care Guide lists almost 60,000 childcare providers along with care homes for the elderly. People rate the carers. The website information meets Ofsted standards but providers are worried the site will bring in a flood of unfair or false reviews.

Now Denise Burke, joint director of United for All Ages, which developed the site alongside My Family Care, said safeguards have been put in place and these will stop that happening.

Denise said: "To make a comment you must sign up and register, leaving a whole range of information, including name and address. You have to wait until we email you back to respond to ratify the email address and ID.

"When a comment is left, we alert the provider by email or phone and give them the opportunity to look at it. If they believe the content to be false, they can report it and we can take that comment down immediately.

"We then go back to the person who left the comment and ask for additional information to substantiate their comment before making a decision."

Denise said that any provider attempting to create comments on their own listings will be caught too.

"The adjudication happens whether it is a positive or negative comment. We hope this will be a very transparent website that gives families the chance to have their say."

Anand Shukla, chief executive of the Daycare Trust, said the website offered families an additional source of information.

"Of course parents should also do their own research by talking to their local family information service, visiting a number of settings and reading the Ofsted reports," he said.

"But parents tell us that they really want to know what other parents think. They want to know whether their child will fit in and whether they will be happy. This site allows them to get real opinions from other parents using the setting."

The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) also welcomed the site, but warned that the controls must be maintained.

NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku, said: "Parents already share information about their nursery experiences with friends, family, and via social networking sites and the Good Care Guide will provide another way to do this.

"It is positive that the site links through to Ofsted and it could prove to be a useful resource for parents looking for a high quality nursery in their area.”However, it is imperative that the planned robust controls are maintained to prevent malicious or false reviews being posted which could unnecessarily damage nursery businesses.

"NDNA will stay in touch with members for their feedback on how the Good Care Guide works in practice."

Google can ‘do in’ your brainbox

HERE'S a funny one! Google can atrophy your brain … well apparently it's true, it supplies us with information so quickly that it actually is removing our capacity to think.

The author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Nicolas Carr claims that the web is depriving our mental faculties of the regular workouts they need.

He claims that the internet means people now find it harder to concentrate, for example when trying to read a book.

Carr says that to improve concentration sites such as Google should be made more difficult to use, which flies in the face of software designers across the cyber world.

Google Instant delivers search results before you finish your entry.

Carr said: "In many ways I admire Google, but I think they have a narrow view of the way we should be using our minds.

"They have this view that everything's about how efficiently you can find that particular bit of information you need – and then move on to the next."

The author singled out Google Books for criticism saying it did not “engage” people “in a long narrative".

And he said that satellite-navigation meant people are forgetting routes they had taken before.

He said that the part of the brain that stores mental images of space is diminished by GPS devices.

A spokesman for Google is quoted as saying: "Web Search is now a fundamental part of peoples' lives. Web users want to find answers to their questions and they want these answers blazingly fast. The faster we can get people to the information they're after, the more time they can spend doing what really matters."

It's only a thought, and some might think I'm being churlish here – but I do think Mr Carr has a point, if we don't have to think as much as we used to then it’s obvious that our thinking muscle will lose strength, become a bit flaccid Google's response to Mr Carr's claims simply says to me that they really don't care about that aspect at all. If we become mindless robots it would suit them fine!