WikiLeaks hits the fan, Google investigation, how social informs search

Wikileaks logoRumours Tesco is poised to revoke Julian Assange’s Clubcard remain unsubstantiated made up. But the WikiLeaks founder has put more than a few people’s backs up, among them Amazon (which withdrew its cloud hosting) and PayPal (which has frozen the whistle-blowing website’s account).

The US political establishment is also rather peeved about the release of over 250,000 of its diplomatic cables. Although they are probably less shocked than some by the confirmation that politics can be a dirty business, and diplomats are … diplomatic (in public at least).

Meanwhile, Assange remains unrepentent and claims the use of Amazon’s hosting services was a deliberate ploy to separate “rhetoric from reality” over their “free speech deficit”. Certainly the company does seem to have conveniently found its recently misplaced moral compass.

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That Google dominates search is not in any doubt – it’s pretty unlikely even Microsoft uses ‘Bing’ as a verb. And though it may lose out to Yandex in Russia and Seznam in the Czech Republic, its overall position in Europe is closer to that seen in The Netherlands, where Google has a 94% share of the market.

But whether Google has abused this position is another matter, and one that’s now under investigation by the European Commission. Its antitrust probe follows complaints by other search service providers about unfavourable treatment of their services in Google’s unpaid and sponsored results and the alleged preferential placement of Google’s own services.

There’s no deadline for the investigation to be completed and, if the 17 years it took the Commission to conclude its 1993 anticompetitive investigation of Microsoft are anything to go by, it’ll be a while before the case can be closed.

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Social media’s current big hitters Facebook and Twitter do inform search rankings it’s been confirmed. Search Engine Land quizzed Google and Bing about how they viewed the two social networking sites and gleaned some interesting details.

Both search engines have incorporated Twitter posts into some of their results and both use Tweets as part of their search algorithms. Moreover re-Tweets count as a “signal” when they determine their results and both try to calculate the authority of the person tweeting.

When it comes to Facebook, Google treats links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as it treats tweeted links, while Bing looks at links shared that are marked as “Everyone” and links shared from Facebook fan pages. Econsultancy also has more on this.

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Found: A top-line overview of Twitter trends in 20 countries outside the US, with a focus on non-English speaking nations.

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