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We all probably did a lot more online shopping this year during the pandemic than ever before. After online shopping, you will notice that pop-up ads are constant, and continue to pop up even if you continue to “x” them out. Or you might check the weather, and find that the site you access knows exactly which town and state you are in.

That’s because of cookies and your browser. Here are some tips to minimize the use of your browsing history by third parties.

First, when you use a computer and Wi-Fi in a public place, your browsing history can be accessed and stored. Even if you are browsing using your own Wi-Fi, you can do it privately. All you have to do is go to the far right side of the browser toolbar, click on the three little dots and select private or incognito.

Next, you can delete your browsing history by going to those same little three dots and clicking on “More Tools;” when the menu comes down, click on “Clear browsing data.”

When visiting websites, be wary of any pop-up that asks you to click on “I agree.” Usually, it is asking you to agree to allow cookies. If it gives you an option to say “no,” say “no.” If a pop-up asks you if you want to delete cookies or “do-not-track,” say “yes.”

To restrict browsers from sending your location-based data, refuse to provide consent if asked when you visit a site.  Depending on the browser you use, you can go into “preference” in settings and choose the option of disallowing or asking for the request of location when you visit a site.

Use other browsers that have advanced privacy settings, such as DuckDuckGo.

To restrict Google from creating an ad profile on you, you may wish to consider downloading Google Analytic Browser Add-on so your tracking activity is restricted.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also track our online activities. To limit these platforms from tracking, go to “Settings” in each site, and click on the choices that allow you to limit targeted ads, tailor ads, or managing advertising preferences.

All websites track users. Controlling cookies and browsing history to limit this tracking will reduce the number of pop-up ads you receive, and the sharing of information about your browsing without your knowledge.

 [Source: This article was published in natlawreview.com  - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dorothy Allen]
Categorized in Internet Privacy

The news of Google’s recent firing of Timnit Gebru has taken the online world by storm. Gebru was the lead researcher for Gender Shades, a project that “evaluates the accuracy of AI-powered gender classification products.” In other words, her work was to see if artificial intelligence and machine learning could correctly predict a person’s gender, based on a photo of their face. And for the most part, it did.

Google, Microsoft, and the other big tech companies are investing a lot in machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s improving search engine performance quite a bit.

Self-Updating Algorithms

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Google engineers used to have to roll out big and little algorithm updates manually. But now, artificial intelligence capabilities empower the algorithm to update itself.

Enter Rankbrain.

Rankbrain is Google’s machine learning algorithm. Based on changes in all of the hundreds of contextual variables Google reads, the algorithm changes itself based on the shifts in the search landscape.

Of the trillions of queries, Google sees every year, 15 percent of them are entirely new. New words and phrases get created. The world is a vast place, so new songs, movies, books, political events, social trends, people, products, and ideas surface every year.

Rankbrain has the ability to read the contextual clues and serve users relevant results based on those clues.

Consider the following example. You just performed a search query with the words “orange soda”. This happens to represent all of the following things; A new, imaginary show entitled Orange Soda just came out on Netflix, The drink Orange Soda is gaining in popularity, There’s a restaurant in your city named Orange Soda, and There’s a town in Illinois called Orange Soda.

Which should Google show you information for? RankBrain is going to calculate the variables to see which contextual data points to emphasize. In our first example, you’re on your laptop in your house, logged into your Google Chrome account. It’s 8:30 pm, and you just searched for TV shows to watch. Based on all of these clues, Google’s going to guess that you’re looking up the new show. It will give you search results accordingly.

In another example, you just left work at 5 pm. Then you used voice search on your phone to ask, “What time does Orange Soda close?” Given these factors and the fact that you’re only 2 miles from the Orange Soda restaurant, Google will serve up results about the restaurant, and not the TV show or drink.

Similarly, if you Google, “directions to orange soda” or “orange soda in bulk”, those keyword phrases will indicate which search results in Google needs to show you.

Natural Language Processing

In the examples above, a person would instantly understand what’s being said by the context. Search engines are still learning this.

Even with contextual clues, search engines often struggle. The most recent search engine advances use analytics feedback and voice search data to train themselves on what people mean.

Voice search has been increasing steadily over the past few years. This gives Google and Bing larger data sets to train their machine learning models on. It gives the search engines practice with responding to human language phrases like, “What time is it in Miami?” and “Is there a lot of traffic on the I-5 right now?”

As the “natural language” database expands, search engines know how to better respond to these types of queries. This is because people speak differently than they write, and user feedback trains the models.

Customer journey analytics techniques enable the software to react to people’s choices. Oftentimes a user’s intent doesn’t become clear until after a series of different strings, which helps to train the search engine on what people mean. For example, when users search a general string like, “seafood restaurants”, they may not like the results that they see.

If the search results are unsatisfactory, they may follow up with searches like, “seafood restaurants near me” or “restaurants with clam chowder near me”.

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It’s these sequences of human language queries that give the search engines the data they need. After 100 times of seeing the search phrase “seafood restaurants” result in a subsequent search of “restaurants with clam chowder near me”, they will start to show one as an autosuggest phrase for the other.

And perhaps they will even start to show similar search results for both because user data has indicated that the underlying search intent is the same, even if the wording is completely different.

The real-time, context-based nature of communication is what makes search technology so difficult, complex, and fascinating.

One of the biggest machine learning challenges in search right now is figuring out this “natural language processing”.

Images and Multimedia

Despite the advances that projects like Gender Shades bring, search engines still struggle to read images and other non-text media formats like video and audio. Computers still can’t consistently recognize images anywhere close to the level that humans can, and video is even more difficult for them to understand.

If and when artificial intelligence capabilities improve to a level comparable to the human brain, then the search engines can incorporate multimedia more fully into their search results.

Until then, the written word will continue to dominate search platforms.

[Source: This article was published in innotechtoday.com By Garit Boothe - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anna K. Sasaki] 
Categorized in Internet Technology

Search is integral to our experience of the internet. It answers our questions, satisfies our curiosities, and with an estimated 4.7 billion people actively using the internet, it’s no coincidence that one of the biggest companies in the world controls search. In fact, Google holds 92% of the global search engine market and derives 57% of its revenue – over $100 billion a year – directly from search advertising. Just the act of trying to improve your search engine ranking page for a particular search term – Search Engine Optimisation – is a multi-billion dollar industry in its own right.

With this in mind, Apple’s recent moves towards establishing its own search technology are hardly unusual, but the real reasons behind it might surprise you – because it’s not about monetization.

Apple’s rival to Google Search

In the latest version of iOS, Apple has begun to show its own web search results. If you have an iPhone, you’ll see them described as “Siri Suggested Websites” when searching from the home screen. It’s been well documented that the AppleBot search crawler is increasingly appearing on weblogs as Apple seeks to index the internet – Apple has a page describing its purpose – and it’s clear that Apple means business when it comes to its own search engine.

But why does Apple feel the need to invest in its own search engine? The status quo is a good deal for Apple – it’s thought that Google currently pays Apple anything between $8 and $12 billion dollars a year in order to be the default search engine on Apple products, and most people are reasonably happy to default to Google. The issue bubbling up is this agreement could be forced to change – not by Apple or Google, but by the US Government.

The internet search giant faces an antitrust lawsuit from the US Department of Justice over claims they are fostering a ‘continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization’. There are clear similarities with the Microsoft Internet Explorer antitrust action of the late ‘90s, and if a similar conclusion is reached, then Apple will be forced to go cap-in-hand to another search engine or reveal its own search engine. Either way, there’s no possibility that Apple will leave its users without the ability to search the internet, it’s too critical to the experience of its products.

What does this mean for enterprise search?

For many years there’s been a gulf between the tools we use as consumers and the tools we use as knowledge workers. It’s often a source of frustration: why is it that at an internet search console, we can find the answer to the most obtuse and bizarre question we can possibly imagine in seconds through a couple of clicks of the mouse, yet it takes me ten minutes to find the document that Jack from Accounts sent me two weeks ago?

The answer lies in the complexity of enterprise search as a function. Behind the veil of the easily accessible user interface, enterprise search is more complex than it appears and there are much greater technological challenges to be overcome, despite the visual similarities with an internet search. For example, content online can easily be categorized by the number of clicks and views a page has received, in order for relevancy to be established, as traffic volumes are incredibly high. However, the document that Jack from Accounts sent is unlikely to have been opened anywhere near as much, so other technologies, such as natural language processing, need to be relied upon in order to understand the content of documents and recommend relevancy.

So, if Apple is spending (most likely) billions of dollars recreating a tool that effortlessly finds us the global sum of human knowledge, then isn’t it about time we improve the tools that knowledge workers have to do their jobs?

Why now for enterprise search?

It’s fair to say Google is doing a good job at keeping up with indexing the internet, but the good news for Google is the internet’s growth of searchable data has slowed significantly since the early 2000s, and it’s currently growing by about 10% a year.

On the other hand, the growth of enterprise data is on another trajectory. According to an IDC whitepaper called “Data Age 2025”, its analysts calculate that enterprise data is growing by around 40% a year, and will account for over 80% of installed bytes by 2025. Under this deluge of data, how will we ever find the document sent to us by Jack from Accounts?

The complication is that enterprise data is more heterogeneous in nature than internet data, which is homogeneous by comparison. As a result, enterprise data tends to reside in silos, so if we need to find a document, we can narrow down where we look to a couple of places – for instance, in our email or on a particular SharePoint. However. a further complication arises when we don’t know where to look – or worse still, we don’t know what we’re looking for. A siloed approach works fairly well but at some point, we start to lose track of where to look. According to recent Sinequa research, knowledge workers currently have to access an average of around six different systems when looking for information – that’s potentially six individual searches you need to make to find something.

Compounding the issue, we’re increasingly making use of unstructured or semi-structured data and mining it for information. In these cases we need context; we need metadata. Finding data is getting more complicated.

The issue at hand is time. The same Sinequa research found that, on average, 44 minutes a day is spent searching for information. Just by cutting this in half, we’d get back 11 working days in a year. Better enterprise search tools would enable this, returning more time to employees so they are able to be more productive and deliver value to their organization.

Existential threat, or an opportunity to differentiate?

Whether Apple considers a potential lack of access to internet search an existential threat or simply another opportunity to differentiate its products versus its biggest competitor, it’s clear that Apple sees search as a fundamental part of its offering. That’s why it’s investing vast sums in building its own search engine.

It’s only a matter of time before enterprise search reaches a similar tipping point. There will be a time when the silos become too many or the time is taken to search them becomes too great. The question is whether the reason for enterprise to take search seriously is because a lack of search is seen as an existential threat, or an opportunity to differentiate.

[Source: This article was published in information-age.com By Stéphane Kirchacker - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank] 
Categorized in Search Engine

(Sponsored Content) When your system is connected to a network, you cannot always guarantee the integrity of the person at the far end of a network connection. If your system is connected to the Internet, ethics go out the window altogether. You have to assume that the person at the far end is a bad guy, then proceed from there. With this tip, we’ll outline an approach to this problem that may help you to focus on how to deal with the bad guys wherever they may be.

Internet bad guys generally fall into two categories, sneaks, and bullies. The bullies you can probably identify easiest, are the ones who go after your system with active attacks. They will try to break into your system, trying just about everything in the book. On our test IBM I server in the office recently, we had a bully come by who tried to log on using over 700 different user profiles in a period of five minutes. Each logon attempt was met by our SafeNet/i exit point software and tossed out right at the point of entry with a security warning message to our security officer for each try. The user profiles were all different and all “typical” of what you might expect to see in just about any shop in the country. When bullies come after you, they do it with brute force. They can try to spoof your system, guess your passwords, deny others from using your system by keeping it overly busy dealing with their break-in attempt, and much more.

The sneaks are a lot more passive. Sneaks will sit back and monitor network traffic to your system and try to uncover secret information that will then give them what they need to gain access to your system “normally.” Sneaks are very hard to identify and they have insidious tools at their disposal to get the information they want. This can even include Trojan horses that gather the information for them. Since sneaks are so hard to identify, you should plan your security strategy assuming that someone is always watching your system.

To guard your system against both sneaks and bullies, you need to think about how to layer your system defenses to guard against anything and anyone. If your system is connected to the Internet, you must assume that a sneak or a bully is going to attempt to gain access and plan accordingly. The best defense is always a good offense and you should consider the various layers of your system and have a plan to deal with intruders at every level. This layered approach will help you develop a good defense. The layers you should give consideration to including:

  • System security – including your system-level use of user-profiles and regularly rotated passwords. For most IBM I shops, this will be your last line of defense, so plan it well. Consider using longer passwords or passphrases that are now supported by the IBM I OS.
  • Network security – this commonly involves the implementation of a firewall between your network and the Internet but can also include services available from your ISP. On the IBM I there are also things that can be done at the IBM I OS server-level via exit programs that can address network security issues.
  • Application security – your applications should be designed to integrate with your security policies. Application software can easily be misused and abused and your applications should be designed with this in mind, especially those applications that are open to network and Internet users.
  • Transmission security – when you use an uncontrolled network like the Internet, your data will be open to anyone while it is in transit from one place to another. To protect your data, you need to consider encryption techniques and the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) on your IBM I along with encryption. Encryption should be required for all 5250 terminal connections.

In your plan for network and Internet security, you need to have a plan for each of these layers of control in order to safeguard your system. And, even then, a bully or a sneak might still get past you, so watch out.

[Source: This article was published in itjungle.com By Rich Loeber - Uploaded by the Association Member: Juan Kyser]
Categorized in Internet Ethics

Ecosia does more than an average search engine. With each click, you can plant a tree and save Earth. Here are the reasons to start using it today.

Although Ecosia is not one of the oldest search engines on the internet, it’s certainly old enough to persist and improve. This Berlin-based search engine has even made a name for itself in recent years.

Sure, Google is considered the top-dog among web browsers, but it doesn’t do everything, nor does it protect your privacy. On the contrary, Ecosia offers several things that no other browser has.

It might be time to switch to Ecosia, especially if you care about the environment. Here are ten reasons why you should use Ecosia rather than putting more money in Google’s wallet:

1. Ecosia Plants Trees as You Surf the Internet

Like other search engines, Ecosia generates revenue from the clicks on advertisements that appear beside and above the search results. Each search query also has a fixed rate.

What makes Ecosia different from Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo is that Ecosia uses 80 percent of its revenue to plant trees.

One of the goals of this not-for-profit search engine is to fight climate change. That is why for every 45 searches that you do in Ecosia, they will plant a tree where people need them most.

They only work with tree-planting partners who use various trees that are native to the area to create a biodiverse forest. Ecosia also ensures that the site is protected after the trees are planted, unlike other organizations.

2. You Can Reduce Your Digital Carbon Footprint

Data centers use a lot of energy to send you results. The carbon footprint generated and released into the atmosphere is usually around 0.2 grams of carbon per search query.

Internet Live Stats reported that Google processes over 1.2 trillion searches per year, which would result in 240 billion grams of carbon a year.

You can fight against the climate crisis by reducing your digital carbon footprint with Ecosia. They built their own solar plants in Germany to power their servers using 100% renewable energy so that every search will be carbon-free.

Moreover, each tree that they plant from your 45 search queries will remove 50 kilograms of carbon in the atmosphere in its whole lifetime. It means that each search would have a carbon footprint of negative 1.1 kilograms.

3. It’s Completely Free and Offers the Same Browsing Experience

Like other search engines, Ecosia is free. It also works the same way, so you won’t have a hard time using it. They partnered with Microsoft’s search engine Bing so you’ll see the same reliable results, images, news, and maps.

The only difference is that Ecosia puts a green leaf or fossil fuel icon beside some of the websites in the search results to help you make better decisions. The former symbol signifies that the website or organization is planet-friendly, while the latter would mean that they are one of the world’s biggest polluters.

4. Ecosia Is Available on Mobile Devices

This browser extension has also made its way to mobile devices, as more people are making the switch to greener internet usage. Ecosia even became a default search option for iOS phones.

Apple users alone generated enough ad revenue to plant over seven million trees in 2020. Meanwhile, Ecosia recorded over five million downloads on Google Play Store.

It has several nifty features on the mobile app, such as Safe Browsing, Quick Search, Adblock, Autofill, Add Cards, and Save Passwords. Like other mobile web browsers, it has tabs, incognito mode, bookmarks, history, downloads, and more. Results also load faster than other mobile search engines.

5. Ecosia Is a Privacy-Friendly Search Engine

Unlike Google, which collects your data and uses it in more ways than you can imagine, Ecosia is a privacy-friendly search engine. They don’t store your searches for more than a week, nor do they create personal profiles based on your data.

While Ecosia uses a tracking tool to collect a small amount of data to optimize their services, they don’t use any external or third parties. This way, they can prevent others from accessing your searches and using the data. But if you don’t want to be tracked by Ecosia, you can use their “Do Not Track” feature.

6. They Won’t Sell Your Data to Advertisers

Each of your search queries in Ecosia is securely encrypted to protect you from potential eavesdroppers. Ecosia ensures that nobody between you, them, and services directly involved can spy on your searches.

Also, you can rest easy that the little data they collect to improve their services won’t be sold to any advertisers.

7. Transparent Financial Reports

Ecosia knows that transparency is essential to earn your trust, so they publish their monthly financial reports in full online. Since they pledged 80 percent of their profit to plant trees, they also make sure to be transparent with the budgeting.

The report shows how much they spend on their tree planting project, so you can check whether they fulfilled their promise. You can also see how much money Ecosia generated from your searches and how much they used for marketing and employee salaries.

8. You Can Create Sustainable Jobs

As you continue to use Ecosia and help them earn more profit, you’ll also help Ecosia support more tree planting projects in different countries. This would create more sustainable jobs, which would employ people and help them earn income.

In one of their tree-planting projects in Madagascar, Ecosia hired 160 full-time employees to plant mangroves on the island. They also employed firefighters in Brazil to protect existing forest patches.

9. Help Protect Endangered Animal Habitats

With the money that Ecosia makes from your search queries, they can restore forest corridors in Uganda, replace trees that have been illegally cut on Sumatra, and connect existing forest patches in Madagascar.

These areas are home to endangered animals such as chimpanzees, orangutans, lemurs, and more. Planting more trees would support these animals and provide them with shelter and a source of food and water.

10. They Gamified Searching, Which Makes it Fun

Ecosia gamified their web browser by adding a search counter on the top right of their display. That way, you can track your impact and see how many trees you’ve planted.

This feature makes internet browsing amusing and even teases your gamer instincts to push the numbers as high as possible. It’s fun to watch it go up and can even be addicting.

Save the Earth While Searching the Web

Like any other web browsers, you can search for keywords and keyphrases in Ecosia. But there is more to it than just surfing the web since you can save the Earth and support good causes with each click.

Use Ecosia and make it your default search engine now so you can contribute to a greener Earth.

[Source: This article was published in makeuseof.com By Emma Collins - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]
Categorized in Search Engine

According to new research from We Are Social and Hootsuite, there are 3.8 billion social media users around the world. 

“Nearly 60% of the world’s population is already online,” said Simon Kemp, Chief Analyst at DataReportal (who produced the research), “The latest trends suggest that more than half of the world’s total population will use social media by the middle of this year.”

With this type of reach, social media use is essential for most journalists, both in terms of story gathering and distribution. It’s a fast moving space, so journalists need to be alive to the challenges – and opportunities – that this space affords. 

Below are six emerging issues and considerations for journalists in 2020.

(1) Mis- and disinformation

A fundamental challenge for social media users is that mis- and disinformation typically looks exactly the same as real news in your feed. As a result, at first glance, it can be very hard for journalists and non-journalists alike, to discern fact from fiction. 

As a result, we all need to “think before we tweet,” check the provenance of material we are sharing or using in our work, and be aware of the latest techniques being used to spread misinformation, conspiracy theories, and partisan agendas. 

To address this, these 11 tips from National Public Radio’s On The Media are also a useful starting point. Digging deeper, I highly recommend the training materials and the newsletters produced by First Draft, a global nonprofit specializing in disinformation and other media trends. These are valuable resources that all journalists should be familiar with. 

(2) Weaponization of social media

The spread of mis- and disinformation can be accidental, for example when people share stories from satirical websites like The Onion, but assume they’re true. 

Who can blame them? Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Remember those stories from last year about President Trump wanting to buy Greenland? You couldn’t make this stuff up!

However, sharing this information isn’t always an accident. We also see the weaponization of social media by state actors and opportunists with the intention of influencing what we see, and our view of the world around us. Driven by financial, as well as ideological motives, this type of online activity is only going to increase.

That means news consumers — and producers — need to be more media literate than ever. 

As journalists, we need to be able to interrogate sources in new and more sophisticated ways. These requirements will only increase as deep fakes and other manipulation techniques become more advanced. 

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(3) Privacy concerns 

Journalists and anyone using social networks need to be cognizant about the potential repercussions of what they say online. These spaces aren’t safe from onlookers, and actions taken in these spaces are not without consequence.

In Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, for example, people have been imprisoned for online posts and WhatsApp messages

And it’s not just what you personally say online, you can also be impacted by association. 

Last year, incoming Harvard freshman Ismail Ajjawi, a Palestinian from Lebanon, was initially denied entry into the United States, purportedly due to social media posts from his Facebook friends that expressed political opposition to the U.S. Ajjawai was eventually allowed into the country and able to start his classes.

(4) The move to closed networks

Because of these trends, we are witnessing a rise of self-censorship, as consumers become increasingly wary about what they say and post online. 

In the U.S., research from Pew Research Center highlighted a desire to avoid contentious conversations or expressing opinions that may be in the minority. 

Elsewhere, conversations are moving to closed networks like WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels due to their encryption and a perception that these channels can bypass digital eavesdropping. In recognition of this, Facebook announced a pivot to privacy last year. 

A key challenge for journalists is that conversations move from the open internet to closed spaces. Being able to access these discussions is not easy, and if you do gain access, do you identify as a journalist? Does this skew the conversation and, in some cases, create risks to your personal safety? Work by former BBC Social Media Editor Mark Frankel offers a good starting point to these issues and considerations. 

(5) Filter bubbles 

Tech platforms are designed to show us more of what they think we like, rather than what we need. 

Essentially your news feed on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram is a giant recommendation machine. These recommendations are based on what the platform thinks you want, which makes it difficult to be introduced to views that differ from our own. 

For journalists, that means we have to remind ourselves that online discussions are not representative of populations at large and that they are deeply filtered by both platform algorithms and what people choose to post. 

As storytellers, we need to work hard to be exposed to different points of view. Social media is a tool to help us in our work, but traditional methods of identifying and building relationships with sources remain just as pertinent.

This is especially true in countries and regions where many voices and experiences go unheard on social media, either because people do not have access to the technology, or they do not understand how to use it. 

Social Media is a complement to tools and techniques that journalists have always used, but not a substitute for it.

(6) Where to invest your time and energy 

“The world’s internet users will spend a cumulative 1.25 billion years online in 2020,” said Simon Kemp, “with more than one-third of that time spent using social media.” 

One final challenge for journalists and media organizations is understanding where audiences are spending that time — and the implications of this. 

The average internet user had an average of 8.5 social media accounts, according to data from GlobalWebIndex in 2018, up from 4.8 social media accounts in 2014. However, the way users divide time between these platforms varies. Although Facebook is the overall market leader, time spent on different networks changes by demographic and country. 

Moreover, because each platform has its own characteristics, social media strategies that work for one platform don’t necessarily work for another. 

As a result, diving into data from DataReportalGlobalWebIndex, the Digital News Report, and other sources is vital if you’re to understand local trends and their implications. 

In a time-pressured newsroom you cannot be everywhere online, so alongside the wider trends outlined in this piece, determining where your audience is — and what they want from their time on a given platform — is essential for your social media success.

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[Source: This article was published in ijnet.org By Damian Radcliffe - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]
Categorized in Investigative Research

Earlier this year, Google tested an Assistant-powered voice dictation feature in Gboard which introduced a new voice typing interface bearing the accents of Google's digital assistant. The test was part of Google's efforts to replace its old voice recognition system with Assistant, although the feature has since been limited in availability.

Today, that changes as a new flag allows you to activate Assistant-powered voice search in Chrome for Android. Android Police noted that the flag first appeared in January of this year, although it had not been functional until now.

The new trick lets you turn on the new voice search UI without needing to run a Developer, Beta or Canary build of Chrome since it's available in the stable version of Chrome 87. To unlock the new voice search experience in Chrome, you can get started by opening the browser on your Android device. Then, you can type chrome://flags/#omnibox-assistant-voice-search in the web address bar, turn on the Omnibox Assistant Voice Search option, and restart Chrome.

Once those steps are done, you can start searching the web using your voice by tapping the mic icon in the address bar or Chrome Omnibox on a new tab page. Of course, Assistant will provide a voice response to you, and it will also display traditional search results in the browser. That said, the new experience won't be available if you tap the mic icon directly on google.com.

[Source: This article was published in neowin.net By Jay Bonggolto - Uploaded by the Association Member: Carol R. Venuti]
Categorized in Search Engine

DuckDuckGo’s Daniel Davis discusses the privacy-focused search engine’s future in the market

INTERVIEW DuckDuckGo’s journey started as an idea in the mind of Gabriel Weinberg, who found poor search results and high levels of spam a daily annoyance when he was browsing the web.

The first iterations of the DuckDuckGo search engine, launched in 2008, focused on offering improved search results – taking on the likes of Google and Yahoo! – but as time went on, the company’s attention pivoted to emerging security and privacy challenges.

There is money to be made in online advertising, and this ecosystem is the lifeblood of everything from media outlets to search engines and social media platforms.

This revenue stream becomes its most lucrative when data is used to create user profiles, resulting in personalized ad targeting.

Rather than charge users for an online service, some would argue that collecting data on users – such as their search queries, web page visits, and ‘likes’ on social media – is a fair trade.

For DuckDuckGo, however, the company believes that a right to privacy should trump marketing interests.

b7f8 article ddg search The DuckDuckGo homepage has become a familiar sight

Speaking to The Daily Swig, Daniel Davis, DuckDuckGo’s communications manager, said that the company has taken a different approach and “we believe getting privacy online should be simple and accessible to everyone, period”.

“We share our most intimate information with search engines – financial, medical, [and more] – and that information deserves to be private and not used for profiling or data targeting,” Davis commented.

No intrusion

DuckDuckGo does not collect user data, search queries, or purchase histories, and does not use or permit trackers – the most common approach employed by organizations to compile user profiles – so searches are kept private.

But how does such a company make money? Adverts are displayed on search engine results, but rather than targeting ads at users, DuckDuckGo’s advertising is based on the search results being viewed.

Today, DuckDuckGo has expanded beyond a simple search engine and now offers a mobile browser app, the DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser on Android and iOS, and a desktop extension for Google Chrome.

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DuckDuckGo’s Daniel Davis says user privacy should trump an organization’s marketing interests

As the company does not track visitors, user base estimates are difficult. However, Davis says that within the course of a year, the number of searches a day has increased from roughly 30 million to 80 million – suggesting that the firm’s privacy message is catching on.

The current record, at the time of writing, is almost 86 million queries in a single day.

“Since we don’t track our users, we don't know the same things about them that other companies do, including how many users we have!,” the executive said. “However, we know many of them are increasingly discovering the importance of protecting their privacy.”

Privacy improvements

No company achieves its goals 100% of the time, however. Back in July, Weinberg was roused out of bed one Thursday morning to deal with a security storm online, in which users were questioning a favicon-fetching “design flaw” in DuckDuckGo’s domain that could impact their privacy.

At the time, the DuckDuckGo founder told us that different favicon fetching methods offered “basically a similar amount” of privacy, but the organization chose to change its method due to community feedback.

DuckDuckGo’s slogan is “Privacy Simplified”, and for Weinberg, this means users should not have to understand complex security concepts in order to feel safe.

This approach appears to be working. Over 2020, despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, DuckDuckGo is growing, with searches increasing by roughly 44% year-over-year.

“This makes us the number two search engine in several countries include the US, Canada, UK, and Australia,” Davis noted. “In addition, our mobile app is now the most downloaded browser on Android and second most downloaded browser on iOS.”

Searching for balance

Google still holds the lion’s share of the global search engine market, but the growth is grounds for optimism – and according to DuckDuckGo, the tech giant’s iron grip needs to be loosened.

In October, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) accused Google of illegally holding a monopoly in the search engine and advertising market. Google was accused of using tactics including enforcing agreements that excluded rivals from fairly competing with it, alleged actions designed to maintain its pre-eminent position in the market.

While Google denies these claims, the company, described by the DoJ as a “gateway to the internet”, also maintains a dominant position in the browser market through Chrome, a business Davis says Google continues to “exploit” in conjunction with its search monopoly, thereby restricting user choice – and impacting privacy.

ddgo hq 2

DuckDuckGo’s headquarters in Paoli, Pennsylvania

“This anti-competitive behavior enables them to collect data at an unprecedented scale and use that to behaviorally target users,” Davis says.

“Even people not directly using Google products are targeted due to the proliferation of Google-hosted trackers found on around 75% of websites. Not only does this hurt competition and innovation, but the behavioral profiles that result are also used in ways that have a negative impact on society and democracy.”

When it comes to the browser security landscape, Davis said there is work to be done by major browser providers, including Google.

Privacy improvements are being made over time, but according to the executive, these are “not enough to properly block the pervasive tracking that people have grown tired of”.

Davis mentioned tracker-blocking technology implemented in the DuckDuckGo browser as an example, which has been released to the open-source community.

“People deserve a private alternative to the products and services they use,” he added. “They deserve simple tools that empower them to take back their privacy, without any trade-offs.”

Privacy beyond search

Davis said there is a growing demand for privacy-focused online products and services, and the company has been “delighted” with the response to the DuckDuckGo mobile browser, launched three years ago.

Recent improvements include adding route planning to private maps, allowing iOS users to set their default browser to DuckDuckGo, and becoming a founding member of a new privacy standard, Global Privacy Control (GPC).

There is “nothing to announce” when it comes to a fully-fledged DuckDuckGo desktop browser at present, but given the vendor’s current trajectory, this kind of offering could be a natural fit, eventually, within DuckDuckGo’s portfolio.

“We’re always looking to introduce new privacy protection products and features where people don't have the protection they deserve,” Davis said. “So next year, you'll see us rolling out new simple services that protect people's privacy in other places outside of search and browsing the web.”

[Source: This article was published in portswigger.net By Charlie Osborne - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jeremy Frink]
Categorized in Internet Privacy

Google is testing a search results page that allows users to click and view images from the web pages. Could impact click through rates.

Google is testing a new kind of search engine results pages (SERPs) that contain interactive elements that hide and reveal images. The test features a discrete icon that when clicks reveals images that are featured on the web page.

A feature like this could impact click-through rates by giving sites with descriptive images a chance to influence users to click to their website.

Google hasn’t provided documentation for this new feature because it appears to be a test at this point.

It may be that the test helps Google understand if users interact with the icon and if it helps users understand whether the content on the website is relevant to them.

The usefulness of this kind of SERP feature may depend on the ability of publishers to select images that can help users determine what the content is about.

Google Tests Interactive Search Results

The test involves adding a small icon representative of a picture into the search result.

Screenshot Closeup of an Interactive Icon in the Search Results

Screenshot of clickable icon that reveals an image when clicked

The icon, when clicked reveals images that are from the site.

Screenshot of an Interactive Google Search Result

Interactive Google search results pages

Presumably, the images will help users determine if the website is relevant.

Google Tests on Live Searches

Google tests new features on a small percentage of total users. Google also uses a control group at the same time in order to compare what users clicked on during the same time period and presumably for the same queries.

In general, the purpose of a control group is to help researchers understand what users without a feature would do under similar circumstances as users with a new feature enabled.

With a control group, the researchers are able to measure things like user satisfaction.

Google has published a How Search Works article about their live testing in which Google shares that they conduct over 17,000 live experiments every year.

According to Google:

“…we conduct live traffic experiments to see how real people interact with a feature, before launching it to everyone. We enable the feature in question to just a small percentage of people, usually starting at 0.1%.

After we collect enough data, we compare the experiment group to a control group that did not have the feature enabled.

We look at a very long list of metrics, such as what people click on, how many queries were done, were queries abandoned, how long did it take for people to click on a result, and so on.

We use these results to measure whether engagement with the new feature is positive, to ensure that the changes we make are increasing the relevance and usefulness of our results for everyone.”

Multiple Images in SERPs

The new feature allows multiple images to be activated in the SERPs.

Here’s a screenshot of the images of one search result activated:

images in serps

And this is a screenshot of three images activated in a single search engine results page:

three images activated in s

If this kind of feature rolls out to all users then it may be useful to have images that accurately depict what the topic of the page is about. Publishers should already be using images that precisely communicate the topic of the article.

This experiment provides insight into how an image can help communicate what a page of content is about.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Roger Montti- Uploaded by the Association Member: Grace Irwin]
Categorized in Search Engine

The latest Microsoft Edge Beta for Android now lets you sync all of your search history and tabs to the desktop version of Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.

According to Windows Central, the added sync options have appeared in the latest Edge beta version 45.11.24.5118, which looks as though it is the first build with the option to sync your search history across your Android device and Microsoft Windows 10 PC or laptop. However, it doesn’t look as though the option is available to everyone, which hints that this might be a limited A/B test ahead of a wider rollout at some point in future.

If you didn’t already know, Microsoft Edge already allows you to sync tons of data and content across your Android and desktop devices including bookmarks, passwords, and auto-fill forms. You can also send any open sites from your Android to PC, which is still a solid way to pick up where you left off.

edge android opentabs sync screens 2020

When opening the “Sync to” page on your Android phone, you’ll have expanded options to sync more data including Favorites, Open tabs, Form fill, Password, Collections, and History data. There is an option for Payments but the option doesn’t look like it is available yet.

We’re not entirely sure just how widely this sync option has been available for Android users of Microsoft Edge. Obviously, you’re bound to one browser across devices, but given the added features, you’ll likely have no issues. Be sure to let us know down in the comments section below if you’re seeing the option on your device.

[Source: This article was published in 9to5google.com By Damien Wilde - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anthony Frank]

 

Categorized in Internet Search

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