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Watchdogs ask Googlers to stop it favoring its own search results

A new coalition of activist groups led by Yelp and TripAdvisor are renewing the fight to get Google to give a fair opportunity to all sites instead of putting its Knowledge Cards atop the results for subjective search queries. The alliance that includes Fight For The Future and Consumer Watchdog.org has assembled tens of thousands of dollars to run targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter “calling for Google employees to introspect and examine how Google’s One Boxes or Answer Boxes are harming the open internet,” says the project’s leader Luther Lowe, Yelp’s VP of public policy. The initiative is certainly self-serving, as Yelp and TripAdvisor have the most to lose from Google’s own local results getting to sidestep the PageRank algorithm and be shown atop search results pages before their own sites. But it’s a fair question to ask why Google’s dominance in search should let it deviate from a fair process of choosing the best result to give its content a boost. Here’s the campaign’s promotional video: Yelp initially launched its “FocusOnTheUser.eu” campaign targeting Google+ in 2014 as the European Union was determining whether Google abused its power to preference its shopping results. That eventually led to a €2.4 billion anti-trust fine. Yelp has now filed a complaint with the EU that extends those concerns to how it treats local business results, which Lowe said is now the biggest category of search. The campaign was timed to come alongside this week’s 60 Minutes report examining whether Google is a monopoly. The new Focus On The User  that launched today concentrates on swaying Google’s employees rather than regulators, and includes new partners like DemandProgress and American Family Voices. We’ve contacted Google requesting a statement in response to the campaign and will update if we hear back. The coalition’s two stated goals are to get Google to: 1. Match users with the best possible information at the top of results.

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Parasitism and the fight for the wrong century

Generals are famously always “studying how to fight the last war,” with the last war’s technology, while dismissing how the world and its tech have changed in the interim. This is true for dissidents, rebels, and culture wars too. Our fears tend to be of 20th century boogeymen, the Nazis and the Soviet Union — but we should be worrying about other things entirely. The world and its dystopias have moved on. The Nazis and the Soviets obviously inspired Orwell’s “1984,” which was stunning, visionary, and enormously influential … while still being slightly myopic compared to Huxley’s earlier, much weirder, and much more subversive “Brave New World.” But Orwell too was already able to prophesy a world in which no one really fought for territory any more. What would be the point? Militaries around the world are constructed primarily for national defense against an invading, conquering force, but invading and conquering territory makes no sense any more. Wealth and power are no longer remotely related to how much real estate or raw materials you control. South Korea’s US-dollar GDP is higher than that of Russia. The US swept Iraq’s military away like gauze paper when they invaded in 2003, but it turns out that, even after you overthrow a brutal dictator, even when it’s one of the most oil-rich nations on the planet, attempting to occupy and control a hostile nation inevitably becomes a horribly expensive catastrophe that costs enormously more than any possible benefits. Nation-states don’t invade and conquer each other any more because of military defenses, or any kind of Pax Americana, or because everyone has gotten nicer and kinder over the last hundred years. They don’t do it because, thanks to technology-driven transformations over that time, it simply doesn’t make any sense; in fact it has become complete madness. Similarly, counterculture individualists and lovers of freedom worry about Nazi fascism or Soviet police states. How twentieth century of us

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