Web

Google is playing dirty, skewing search results in its own favor, study finds

google skews search results in own favor location aware screenshot 02a
Building upon accusations leveled by the Federal Trade Commission, a new study authored by Harvard Business School professor Michael Luca, Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu, and the data science team at Yelp has provided new, damning evidence that Google is skewing search results in their own favor. According to the rather unsurprising results, Google favors its own content when returning local search results, which is — surprise, surprise — a violation of competition laws. The authors assert, “From this paper one thing should be abundantly clear: The easy and widely disseminated argument that Google’s universal search always serves users and merchants is demonstrably false. Instead, in the largest category of search (local intent-based), Google appears to be strategically deploying universal search in a way that degrades the product so as to slow and exclude challengers to its dominant search paradigm.”

Yelp, of course, has significant skin in the game, as Google’s bad habit of placing its own services for finding food, lodging, or medical care, higher on search results may keep out competition from rival search services like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and others. When conducting their study, researchers gave a sample population of 2,690 users with two different sets of search results from Google. One was displayed as they are currently on Google, with links to businesses alongside Google’s ratings. The second, however, showed links with ratings from Yelp.

According to the study, users were “45 percent more likely to click on results that were ranked purely by relevance, rather than as Google ranks them now, with its own services displayed prominently.” As a result, authors claim, “… by leveraging dominance in search to promote its internal content, Google is reducing social welfare — leaving consumers with lower-quality results and worse matches.”

Speaking to The New York Times, Wu noted, “The idea that you can build a better version of Google search engine pretty easily if you don’t exclude competitors to me was a pretty startling finding.” And while this study could be used by the FTC to revive previous lawsuits against Google, the search engine giant isn’t so concerned. Danny Sullivan, a search engine analyst and Search Engine Land founder, told the Times, “Over all, it comes across more to me as a public relations exercise rather than precise science. However, I do think Google could easily include links to other review sites which would benefit both its users and competitors.”

Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.
Gaming

Have a spooky dance party at an abandoned mansion with Fortnite's new challenges

The Fortnite season 7, week 2 challenges have arrived in Battle Royale. From searching for chests to dancing off at an abandoned mansion, here's how to do them and the rewards you get for completing them.
Computing

Microsoft could split up search and Cortana in the next Windows 10 release

In the latest Insider preview build, Microsoft is exploring ways to split up Cortana and search on Windows 10. If Microsoft moves ahead with this change, we could see separate search and Cortana options in the Spring 2019 Update.
Computing

No more wild goose chase: ‘Duck.com’ now leads to DuckDuckGo instead of Google

DuckDuckGo recently acquired a shorter domain name from fellow search engine competitor Google. As a result, longtime and new DuckDuckGo users can now access the privacy-focused search engine by going to duck.com.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.
Web

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.
Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Web

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?
Computing

Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser may be adding your Chrome extensions

Fans sticking to Google Chrome because due to its vast extension library might be able to switch over to Microsoft's latest iteration of Edge, as a project manager confirms that the company has its eyes on Chrome extensions.
Computing

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Computing

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.
Social Media

‘YouTube Rewind 2018’ is about to become its most disliked video ever

YouTube is about to achieve a record it really doesn't want — that of "most-disliked video." Yes, its annual recap of featuring popular YouTubers has gone down really badly this year.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Mobile

5G: Why everything is about to change

Curious about the many ways 5G will change and enrich your life? Here’s our guide to all things 5G.