A new Google effort against scraper sites may prompt an algorithm change.
Google has called for help in identifying "scraper sites" that recycle other people's content in order to usurp their search rankings. The purpose is so Google can perform tests involving those sites, which suggests that an algorithm change to address the problem may be in the works.
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Apple may be phasing out access to user tracking on iPhones.
Apple has given notice to developers that it may begin restricting their access to unique device identifiers (UDIDs) on iPhones, which allow them to target ads based on user activity. While this may seem like a victory for privacy over behavioral advertising, Apple's motives may not be altruistic--one interpretation is that the move will force more advertisers to use Apple's iAd network, which can target ads without relying on UDIDs.
Facebook refines sharing options.
Facebook is giving users the option of sharing content like posts and photos with more limited circles of contacts. While there will remain a public option, which will share content with anyone who wants to see it, Facebook users will also be able to limit access to certain content to designated groups, such as co-workers or friends.
The slow economy isn't expected to slow smart phone growth.
Despite mounting economic concerns, eMarketer projects the number of US smart phone users to grow by 49.6% this year, reaching a total of 90.1 million. This would bring smart phone usage up to 38% of all US mobile device users, and to 28.8% of the total US population.
College students lead the charge into computer devices, though tablet penetration remains low.
Not surprisingly, college students lead the general population in percentage usage of a variety of devices, including mobile phones, laptops, and digital music players. Notably though, penetration rates of e-book readers and tablets remain in the single digits among all segments measured, even though students are optimistic about the future of tablets.
E-commerce remains on track for strong growth this year.
The contrast between the online economy and the broader US economy is seen in recently-released Department of Commerce figures, which show that year-over-year growth for e-commerce remained strong in the second quarter of 2011. US e-commerce retail sales were up 17.2% year-over-year; this still only represents 4.2% of all retail sales, but that figure is rising steadily.
Google settles federal charges on pharmaceutical advertising for $500 million.
With enforcement practices and case law surrounding online advertising still in the formative years, Google's $500 million settlement of a federal charge that it allowed illegal pharmaceutical ads is bound to be a landmark. On the one hand, the settlement is one of the largest in history, but on the other hand, it allows Google to escape potential criminal charges.
Google pulls the plug on a recent social app acquisition.
Google has had a voracious appetite for acquisitions, but they've recently reminded everyone that those acquisitions don't always work out. Google is shutting down Slide, a social media apps company which Google acquired last year for $179 million. Slide founder Max Levchin, who is best known for the PayPal start-up, will be leaving Google.
comScore sued over alleged privacy violations.
comScore has developed a wide following as a source of information on Internet users, but its methods of gathering information have become the subject of a new lawsuit. The suit alleges that comScore violated user privacy by recording confidential information and manipulating privacy settings, among other things. comScore denies the merit of the suit.