from the I've-got-a-secret dept.
In February, an engineer named Dmitri Brereton wrote a blog post about Google's search-engine decay, rounding up leading theories for why the product's "results have gone to shit." The post quickly shot to the top of tech forums such as Hacker News and was widely shared on Twitter and even prompted a PR response from Google's Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, refuting one of Brereton's claims. "You said in the post that quotes don't give exact matches. They really do. Honest," Sullivan wrote in a series of tweets.
Brereton's most intriguing argument for the demise of Google Search was that savvy users of the platform no longer type instinctive keywords into the search bar and hit "Enter." The best Googlers—the ones looking for actionable or niche information, product reviews, and interesting discussions—know a cheat code to bypass the sea of corporate search results clogging the top third of the screen. "Most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust," Brereton argued, therefore "we resort to using Google, and appending the word 'reddit' to the end of our queries." Brereton cited Google Trends data that show that people are searching the word reddit on Google more than ever before.
[...] Google has built wildly successful mobile operating systems, mapped the world, changed how we email and store photos, and tried, with varying success, to build cars that drive themselves. [...] Most of the tech company's products—Maps, Gmail—are Trojan horses for a gargantuan personalized-advertising business, and Search is the one that started it all. It is the modern template for what the technology critic Shoshana Zuboff termed "surveillance capitalism."
The article goes on at length about ruthless commercialism via ever-intrusive ads, constant tweaks to the search algorithm, and how different generations use the ubiquitous search engine.
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Regulators in Europe and the UK have opened an antitrust probe into a deal between Google and Meta on online advertising, in the latest effort to tackle the market power of the world's biggest technology companies.
The move follows US antitrust investigators who are also probing an agreement informally known as "Jedi Blue." The search engine giant and Facebook's parent company have been accused of working together to carve up advertising profits, acting together to buttress their businesses.
The EU and UK probes represent the latest assault on Big Tech from global regulators that are also preparing to unleash new rules designed to challenge the primacy of groups such as Google, Meta, and Amazon. In response, US tech groups have launched lobbying efforts in Washington and Brussels in an effort to protect their interests.
[...] Companies found in breach of EU law stand to lose up to 10 percent of global revenues, but the legal processes could take years.
Google employees have been improperly using attorney-client privilege to hide documents from discovery in litigation and government investigations, according to fresh allegations laid by the US Justice Department (DOJ).
"Google has explicitly and repeatedly instructed its employees to shield important business communications from discovery by using false requests for legal advice," DOJ attorneys wrote in a court filing for its search monopoly lawsuit against Google.
According to the court filing [PDF], Google taught employees to slap an attorney-client privilege label and generic "request" for counsel's advice label on any sensitive business communications that Google might wish to shield from discovery. Slapping these labels onto communications prevents them from being provided for discovery in litigation.
This practice has allegedly been used throughout all levels of Google's hierarchy, with the DOJ claiming Google parent company Alphabet's CEO Sundar Pichai copied Google chief legal officer Kent Walker onto an email to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki about how to respond to a press inquiry, with "Attorney Client Privileged" at the top.
In these "camouflaged" communications, the attorney allegedly remained silent on a frequent basis, which the DOJ claims underscored that these communications were not genuine requests for legal advice but rather "an effort to hide potential evidence".
While Google's multiple antitrust cases continue to drag on here in the U.S., it looks like the search giant's starting to make a few concessions across the pond. Reuters reports that Google's parent company, Alphabet, has made an offer to European Union regulators in response to an ongoing investigation into the tech giants' adtech business: Don't fine us, and we'll let other companies place their ads on YouTube.
Alphabet has reportedly offered to allow its rival advertising technology companies to place ads beside YouTube videos in negotiations with the European Commission, rather than obligating them to use Google Ad Manager, Display & Video 360, and Google Ads to do so. [...]
Amazon has reportedly ceded ground in a similar antitrust investigation. The ecommerce company has offered to boost third-party sellers' visibility in its online marketplace and to share shopper data with them so as to avoid fines, Reuters reports. European regulators could fine Google and Amazon up to 10% of the companies' global revenue if they do conclude the tech giants engaged in anti-competitive practices.