Tag Archives: Internet

“Private Search Engines” and Their Deals With Oppressive Trackers

Private Search Engines

The “privacy” model has become a default business strategy for new search engines. Why? Because it sells. Given the typically inferior quality of their results, and their often uninspiring user-experience, “private search engines” routinely over-achieve in terms of growth. So unless they have a revolutionary new concept, anyone entering today’s search market is almost compelled to trade on privacy.

They’re all at it. Barely a week goes by without a new “private search” brand coming up in the #privacy tags on Twitter. Some are just a front for affliate marketers to peddle overpriced rubbish. Others, such as Search Encrypt – taken seriously by a lot of people – are listed as malware. Some, despite billing themselves as privacy protectors on Twitter, have no SSL and literally no privacy policy whatsoever. “Private search” has become a joke. It’s that same old bunch of shady chancers using the gimmick of the moment in the hope of becoming billionaires. But what about the few brands that manage to attract continuous applause? Have we not noticed that they’re in bed with the enemy?… Continue reading “Private Search Engines” and Their Deals With Oppressive Trackers

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The Truth About “Link Tax” and “Censorship Machines”

Link Tax My Arse

We’re here again. The censorship card is at the top of the deck, as the internet’s freedom to steal content faces one of its stiffest challenges yet. Just from the collection of manipulative voices spouting highly-charged phrases like “link tax” and “censorship machines”, we know there’s a copyright-related bill in motion. That bill, is the revised European Union Copyright Directive, and the reaction it’s whipped up is almost surreal in its level of distortion.

Whilst I’m discussing the new Directive in this post, I really want to send out a general counter-protest against the cyber giants’ relentless playing of a censorship card, every time the internet’s freedom to steal comes under threat. It happened with SOPA, it happened with Net Neutrality. And it’ll keep happening as long as we’re stupid enough to accept that policing Silicon Valley’s behaviour somehow equates to censorship. Continue reading The Truth About “Link Tax” and “Censorship Machines”

Google’s Twitter Connectivity Snapshot

Google Twitter Snapshot

Have you ever found it a bit irksome trying to work out what the deal is with a newly discovered Twitter user? Okay, so you can see their bio, and their most recent tweets, but this may not tell you much about the actual people with whom they’re associated.

One of the most interesting Twitter tricks I’ve found in some time is what I’m calling the Google Twitter Connectivity Snapshot. The idea works courtesy of Google’s Advanced Search, and can provide a quick insight into a Twitter user’s sphere of activity. True, you can read the user’s bio and look at the tweets or retweets on their profile page, but that often gives quite a self-conscious sense of who the person is. Sometimes, it’s more revealing to see what kind of people connect with them, and take a peep at some of the connections. Continue reading Google’s Twitter Connectivity Snapshot

The Cyber Witch Hunt

Cyber Witch Hunt 1

They’re now so common that most of us have witnessed at least one as a live event during our cyberspace travels. We look on in borderline disbelief as a mind-boggling array of angry souls pile in to essentially re-word the same acidic criticism, punctuated only by the odd tirade of abuse, and a passing troll chipping in with a timely popcorn-chomping GIF.

The target, meanwhile, stands alone, quite possibly driven offline. What we’re seeing, is the cyber witch hunt – an ugly manifestation of sustained online gang pursuit and attack. The core characteristic is a sense of gross imbalance, in which just one person – metaphorically “the witch” – is persistently targeted by a growing mob. Continue reading The Cyber Witch Hunt

Has Scareware Gone Mainstream?

Mobile phone message prompt

If you’re an averagely engaged Internet user, the number of times you’ll have been asked for your phone number in the name of security has probably run beyond count. And yet some of the online providers who ask for this additional data, have been hacked. Continue reading Has Scareware Gone Mainstream?

Why You Can’t Anonymise Your Twitter Account

Yahoo Twitter 2008
The Internet never forgets. Yahoo’s Twitter page as it was in 2008, still live online today. Are your old, deleted pages preserved in the same place?

So your Twitter account has carried your name for a year, but now you want to be anonymous? No problem: all you do is change your screen name, and maybe also your username. Some of your followers will probably still know who you are, but no one else can find you, right? Continue reading Why You Can’t Anonymise Your Twitter Account

Reliable Ways To Cut Out Link Spam in a Twitter Search

Link Spam and Unwanted Advertising

As social sites have increasingly deployed cute algorithms to feed us what they want us to see (as opposed to what we actually asked for), it’s become almost essential for the serious reader to adopt a more proactive approach than the simple policy of ‘follow and wait’.

The online advertiser’s Holy Grail is to make us think we’re reading what we personally selected, whilst actually feeding us a substantial mix of ‘recommendations’ and ads. Some companies are better at this than others. Google does it best, keeping the consumer feeling free and unmanipulated. Twitter definitely does not yet have the art that conceals the art. If you let Twitter into the driving seat, it’ll probably take you to Hell. But if you seize the controls, you can get just as insightful an experience from Twitter as you can from Google. Twitter’s real user controls lie in its search capability. Continue reading Reliable Ways To Cut Out Link Spam in a Twitter Search