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[Source: This article was published in nakedsecurity.sophos.com By Mark Stockley - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen]

The history of computing features a succession of organisations that looked, for a while at least, as if they were so deeply embedded in our lives that we’d never do without them.

IBM looked like that, and Microsoft did too. More recently it’s been Google and Facebook.

Sometimes they look unassailable because, in the narrow territory they occupy, they are.

When they do fall it isn’t because somebody storms that territory, they fall because the ground beneath them shifts.

For years and years Linux enthusiasts proclaimed “this will be the year that Linux finally competes with Windows on the desktop!”, and every year it wasn’t.

But Linux, under the brand name Android, eventually smoked Microsoft when ‘Desktop’ gave way to ‘Mobile’.

Google has been the 800-pound gorilla of web search since the late 1990s and all attempts to out-Google it has failed. Its market share is rock solid and it’s seen off all challengers from lumbering tech leviathans to nimble and disruptive startups.

Google will not cede its territory to a Google clone but it might one day find that its territory is not what it was.

The web is getting deeper and darker and Google, Bing and Yahoo don’t actually search most of it.

They don’t search the sites on anonymous, encrypted networks like Tor and I2P (the so-called Dark Web) and they don’t search the sites that have either asked to be ignored or that can’t be found by following links from other websites (the vast, virtual wasteland known as the Deep Web).

The big search engines don’t ignore the Deep Web because there’s some impenetrable technical barrier that prevents them from indexing it – they do it because they’re commercial entities and the costs and benefits of searching beyond their current horizons don’t stack up.

That’s fine for most of us, most of the time, but it means that there are a lot of sites that go un-indexed and lots of searches that the current crop of engines are very bad at.

That’s why the US’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) invented a search engine for the deep web called Memex.

Memex is designed to go beyond the one-size-fits-all approach of Google and deliver the domain-specific searches that are the very best solution for narrow interests.

In its first year it’s been tackling the problems of human trafficking and slavery – things that, according to DARPA, have a significant presence beyond the gaze of commercial search engines.

When we first reported on Memex in February, we knew that it would have potential far beyond that. What we didn’t know was that parts of it would become available more widely, to the likes of you and me.

A lot of the project is still somewhat murky and most of the 17 technology partners involved are still unnamed, but the plan seems to be to lift the veil, at least partially, over the next two years, starting this Friday.

That’s when an initial tranche of Memex components, including software from a team called Hyperion Gray, will be listed on DARPA’s Open Catalog.

The Hyperion Gray team described their work to Forbes as:

Advanced web crawling and scraping technologies, with a dose of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, with the goal of being able to retrieve virtually any content on the internet in an automated way.

Eventually our system will be like an army of robot interns that can find stuff for you on the web, while you do important things like watch cat videos.

More components will follow in December and, by the time the project wraps, a “general purpose technology” will be available.

Memex and Google don’t overlap much, they solve different problems, they serve different needs and they’re funded in very different ways.

But so were Linux and Microsoft.

The tools that DARPA releases at the end of the project probably won’t be a direct competitor to Google but I expect they will be mature and better suited to certain government and business applications than Google is.

That might not matter to Google but there are three reasons why Memex might catch its eye.

The first is not news but it’s true none the less – the web is changing and so is internet use.

When Google started there was no Snapchat, Bitcoin or Facebook. Nobody cared about the Deep Web because it was hard enough to find the things you actually wanted and nobody cared about the Dark Web (remember FreeNet?) because nobody knew what it was for.

The second is this statement made by Christopher White, the man heading up the Memex team at DARPA, who’s clearly thinking big:

The problem we're trying to address is that currently access to web content is mediated by a few very large commercial search engines - Google, Microsoft Bing, Yahoo - and essentially it's a one-size fits all interface...

We've started with one domain, the human trafficking domain ... In the end we want it to be useful for any domain of interest.

That's our ambitious goal: to enable a new kind of search engine, a new way to access public web content

And the third is what we’ve just discovered – Memex isn’t just for spooks and G-Men, it’s for the rest of us to use and, more importantly, to play with.

It’s one thing to use software and quite another to be able to change it. The beauty of open-source software is that people are free to take it in new directions – just like Google did when it picked up Linux and turned it into Android.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in computerworld.com By Jonny Evans - Uploaded by the Association Member: Joshua Simon]

Apple users who care about privacy are moving to DuckDuckGo for search. These tips will get you started with it.

Like liberty for all, privacy demands vigilance, and that’s why Apple users who care about those things are moving to DuckDuckGo for search.

Why use DuckDuckGo?

Privacy is under attack.

It doesn’t take much effort to prove this truth. At the time of writing, recent news is full of creeping privacy erosion: 

And then there’s Duck Duck Go. 

With Duck Duck Go, you are the searcher, not the searched

I think most Apple users know about DuckDuckGo. It is an independent search engine designed from the ground up to maintain your privacy.

It means the search service doesn’t collect information about you, doesn’t gather your search queries, and doesn’t install cookies or tracking code on your systems.

It now also provides highly accurate maps thanks to a deal with Apple that lets it use the also private-by-design Apple Maps service. To do this, the search engine is using Apple’s MapKit JS framework, which Apple created so website owners could embed maps in their sites.

Maps on DuckDuckGo are quite satisfying and will only improve as Apple introduces more detailed maps, better local business listings, and additional feature. You should see this service in action here.

How Apple Maps works on DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo added Apple Maps support at the beginning of 2019.

Since then, it has introduced a set of compelling improvements to how it works, thanks to Apple’s framework. You now get the better implementation of Maps in your search, including the benefit of local search results. Additional enhancements include:

  • Map re-querying: You can now refine search queries within the expanded maps view. You can also zoom in and out or move around the map to find other results that match your search.
  • Local autocomplete: You will be provided with search suggestions as you type based on the local region visible on your map. Type fuel in a map of the Arizona desert, and you can see how many miles you’ll need to walk if your fuel runs out.
  • Dedicated Maps tag: Look at the top of a search result, and you’ll find a Maps tab, which joins the images, videos, news, and meanings tabs.

There’s even a Dark Mode that is enabled when you switch to DuckDuckGo’s dark theme – when you switch, you’ll see the embedded Apple Maps also do so.

(Switch to the dark theme in the search engine’s settings, which you’ll find here. You can also discover much more information on how the search engine protects your privacy, primarily by not collecting it in the first place.)

How do they ensure your privacy when running map and address-related searches? DuckDuck Go explains:

“With Apple, as with all other third parties we work with, we do not share any personally identifiable information such as IP address. And for local searches in particular, where your approximate location information is sent by your browser to us, we discard it immediately after use.”

How to set DuckDuckGo as default search on Apple devices

There are two ways to use DuckDuckGo rather than Google for search:

1. You can visit the DuckDuckGo.com website and use search in your browser there.

2. You can also change your Mac, iPhone or iPad’s default search service in order to use the far more private alternative. I think most readers know about this, but just in case:

  • On a Mac: Safari Preferences>choose the Search tab and choose DuckDuckGo in the drop-down list of search engine choices.
  • On iOS/iPad OS: Settings>Safari and select DuckDuckGo from the options provided in the Search Engine section. You need to do this for all your devices individually.

Once you change your default search engine, all the searches you make in the future will be made using the more private service. You may even want to switch to using MeWe as a social network to replace Facebook while you’re at it.

Up next…

“We believe there should be no trade-off for people wanting to protect their personal data while searching,” the search engine explains. “Working with Apple Maps to enhance DuckDuckGo Search is an example of how we do this and pushes us further in our vision of setting a new standard of trust online.”

This is all well and good, but how do they see this experience extending itself in the future?

I am not currently in possession of a working crystal ball, but here are two realistic and possible ways the service could be extended:

  1. Imagine how cool this would be with the addition of Apple’s delightfully lag-free Look Around Street View-killer.
  2. Imagine how embedded AR experiences could also become part of what’s on offer through the search service.

Why not? We know Apple takes this stuff seriously. It is surely only a matter of time until it declines Google for search.

Like liberty for all, privacy demands vigilance. Be vigilant.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in seroundtable.com By Barry Schwartz - Uploaded by the Association Member: Bridget Miller]

Google's John Mueller said it again, do not worry about words or keywords in the URLs. John responded to a recent question on Twitter saying "I wouldn't worry about keywords or words in a URL. In many cases, URLs aren't seen by users anyway."

oliver

It references that video from Matt Cutts back in 2009 where it says keywords play a small role in rankings, but really small.

In 2017, John Mueller said keywords in URLs are overrated and that it is a small ranking factor back in 2016.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in techcrunch.com By Josh Constine - Uploaded by the Association Member: Olivia Russell]

Yandex, the Google of Russia, has built a voice-activated visual search engine for Facebook. Codenamed “Wonder,” the mobile app lets people ask what businesses friends have visited and what content they’ve consumed, sources confirm. The question is if Facebook will permit the app. Its policy prohibits the use of its data in search engines without permission, and Wonder resembles Facebook “Nearby.”

I talked to multiple industry sources who’ve seen Wonder first-hand or currently have a build of it on their iOS device (though an Android version may have been developed, too). The logo you see above is my attempt at an artist rendition of what sources say an early version of the app’s logo looked like. One source said Wonder is “about more than Facebook” which means it could pull in more traditional search results, or just make use of data from the partners I detail below.

A Yandex spokesperson said Yandex “can’t confirm and can’t comment” on Wonder. However, they did admit that “Yandex is working on mining social data. We are building social products.” It also noted it would have an announcement to make on that front in the coming weeks or months, which could certainly be a reveal of Wonder.

Here’s a rundown of how an alpha version of Wonder worked, but note that some design and partnership details may change if it’s released.

Welcome To Wonder

Wonder users can search using voice for things such as “restaurants in Los Angeles my friends have visited.” A horizontal, tile-by-tile scrolling interface lets them view one at a time the restaurants where their Facebook friends have taken photos or checked in. Wonderers can also type to search instead of using voice, or ask to see where a specific friend has gone.

Clicking on business shows a horizontal stream of photos and recommendations of that place posted by their friends. Another tap brings up Foursquare-powered venue info such as a map, address, and phone number.

Wonder isn’t just for local businesses like Facebook’s recently launched “Nearby” feature built by the acquired Gowalla team. Wonder can pull up music that friends have listened to, let you learn about artists thanks to Last.fm-powered profiles, or preview or buy songs from iTunes. There’s a news discovery component, too. You can see news articles recently read by all your friends or a specific friend and read them within the app through an internal browser.

Yandex’s Passport To The USA

yandex maps app

Yandex has largely limited itself to Russia and Russian-speaking markets over the years — a market where it is currently the largest search provider. But its share in its home market has come down and been hovering around 60 percent in the last year with competition from Google and others, so it is turning to growth elsewhere.

Just as Google has extended into mobile to expand the potential footprint for its advertising network, Yandex has done the same.

Chief among those efforts have been Yandex’s moves in mobile. A little over a year ago, it bought a company called SPB Software, which develops cross-platform mobile applications and user interfaces.

Some of projects SPB may have helped Yandex with include apps discovery for musicbusiness listings, taxi services (similar to Uber, with a very popular app in Moscow) and more (this Google Playlist includes apps for movie listings, eCommerce, Yandex’s Dropbox-like app Yandex.disc, and Yandex.market for ‘personal shopping’ ). In fact, you could think of these as a composite for some of the features of Wonder.

Perhaps most important of all, are Yandex’s location-based and mapping efforts. Yandex’s maps have replaced Google on iOS devices in Russia, and it also provides the search (but not native maps) on Windows Phone devices in the country. These location-based services might just be Yandex’s passport out of Russia (or so it hopes).

Yandex’s Dream, Facebook’s Nightmare?

So Wonder sounds great, especially compared to Facebook’s internal search engine, which is glaringly deficient. There’s no way to search for news read by friends, searching an artist’s name in the music category returns zero results, and if you figure out how to use the Places tab to search for restaurants, you’re met with standard-looking search results. Finding photos or recommendations of businesses from your friends is tough.

facebook search results places
Facebook tried to fix some of this with Nearby and did a pretty good job with the business search. Built into a tab in Facebook’s primary mobile apps, Nearby shows you places friends have been, Liked, or recommended. It took a browse-by-category approach to minimize mobile typing, in contrast to Wonder’s focus on voice commands. However, Nearby doesn’t surface photos taken by friends at places yet, and it might be better off as a standalone app rather than being buried in Facebook for iOS and Android’s navigation.

The problem is that Yandex’s Wonder may be a bit too great and employ too much of Facebook’s data. In May, Facebook updated its Platform Policies to include the statement “You must not include data obtained from us in any search engine or directory without our written permission.” Facebook tells me this was designed to keep your friends from volunteering your private information to public search engines. But Wonder could definitely be interpreted as a search engine, especially considering its built by Yandex, and the policy doesn’t only apply to private data.

facebook nearby map titled

In fact, Facebook apparently learned that Yandex was developing Wonder around the time it changed its policy, and the line could have been added to protect Facebook’s future endeavors in search from invaders like Yandex. Therefore, Wonder might get it's public Facebook data to access to shut down if it doesn’t have permission, and I’ve heard Yandex is actually worried this will happen pre- or post-launch.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself explained at TechCrunch Disrupt SF that Facebook is getting into search:

“Search is interesting. I think search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers…’ I have this specific question, answer this question for me’. Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. ‘What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the last six months and Liked?’ These are questions that you could potentially do at Facebook if we built out this system that you couldn’t do anywhere else. And at some point, we’ll do it. We have a team working on search.”

Facebook Nearby, since it launched, could answer that sushi question, but so could Wonder thanks to Facebook’s data. With local business, the discovery comes lots of opportunity for monetization through sponsored placement and other channels. Facebook may not want some other company cashing in on this.

There is hope, though. Facebook struck a status update licensing deal with Yandex in 2010 to allow public posts from Pages to appear in the Russian search engine. In exchange, Facebook got a widget on the Yandex home page that helped it sign up Russian users when it was still fighting off local social network VKontakte. Russian news outlet Ria Novosti also reported that Zuckerberg visited Yandex’s headquarters in Moscow in the Fall and held talks with management there.

Perhaps Facebook and Yandex could come to some sort of partnership around Wonder, such as a revenue share or allowing it to use Facebook data in exchange for more promotion of Facebook on Yandex. Other possibilities include Facebook buying the app from Yandex, cloning it the way Facebook copied Snapchat to build Poke or working out a larger deal where Yandex assists Facebook with its search strategy. If Facebook was really feeling generous, it could just give Yandex permission to use the necessary data in Wonder.

No matter the outcome, sources say Yandex has proven there’s wondrous potential for Facebook in mobile search.

[Additional reporting by Ingrid Lunden]

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in foxnews.com By Kim Komando - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry]

Google isn’t everything. Yes, it’s the most powerful search engine ever created. Yes, it processes 40,000 searches per second. And yes, Google is the go-to search engine for the majority of us.

There are many Google resources that most people don’t know about, including Google’s advanced search features that let you narrow searches by time, file type and website type.

Still, Google doesn’t know everything, and there are some resources that are actually better than Google at finding certain information. Some sites index streaming movies, others archive GIFs. Other search engines may not have the omniscience of Google, but they are far more committed to your privacy.

Speaking of privacy, you can use Google Take Out to find out how much Google knows about you, and how much of your personal information is being tracked.

For those special searches, here are seven search sites you can use other than Google. These services cover a range of themes and needs, but you’re almost guaranteed to find one useful – and you might find yourself consulting it over and over. The best part: They’re basically all free.

1. Find streaming movies

The internet is overflowing with streaming services, and yet the question always comes up: what should we watch tonight? Sometimes we browse through the options, seeking a few favorite classics, or this year’s Oscar nominees, but we have to bounce from platform to platform just to find the title we’re looking for.

There's a search engine that will do the work for you. It's called JustWatch. This free website combs through streaming sites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, YouTube, iTunes, Roku and Vudu, and it will show where a particular movie is available to stream (free or otherwise).

You can fine-tune and filter the results any way you like -- by year, rating, price, genre, quality and age rating. This is extra useful if you're wondering if a movie or TV show is something you can get for free on other streaming sites. JustWatch's timeline shows you what's new on any particular service at any given time. JustWatch isn't limited to home streaming services. It can help you find all the latest theater movies, and give you summaries, show trailers and buy tickets.

A similar service is GoWatchIt, which boasts 2.5 million movies and 50,000 regular users. The page is attractive and easy to use, and like its rival, GoWatchIt uses your location to determine which content is available in your region.

2. Find GIFs for email and social media

The right GIF is worth a thousand words. Unlike a photo, a GIF is like a tiny video – an animation, a clip from a movie, or a piece of news footage. GIFs often express an emotion or sentiment that no single photo or verbal comment can. Most of the time, GIFs are spit-take funny.

Social media service like Facebook and Twitter make GIFs easy to track down, but for the full catalog, Giphy is the place to go. The site is packed with easy-to-find GIFs: just enter your keyword in the search bar and zillions of GIFs pop up. Like any online search, broad topics are more fruitful than obscure ones; you’ll find plenty of GIFs for “balloon,” but few for “supernumerary.”

To share, click on the GIF that you want, find the "Copy link" button on the right pane, and choose the format. A short GIF link works best, because you can copy and paste the link to pretty much anywhere. Even better, via Giphy's iOS or Android app, you can instantly share any GIF via text messaging, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter.

3. Search space images

No matter how old we get, the sky will always enthrall us, especially at night. This fascination led the U.S. government to create NASA in the 1950s, and to this day, the agency continues to shed light on outer space. But short of actually leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, the best way to explore the cosmos is through online videos.

The NASA Image Library has pictures across 60 collections combined into one searchable database. This is convenient because you don't have to hop from page to page just to zero in on what you're looking for.

Whether you search for pictures of our solar system, far-off galaxies or the moon landings, you can browse through NASA images – and you can download the images for free, share them on social media sites or publish them for your purposes, as all this digital content is in the public domain.

4. Free software for coders and developers

Most people will not appreciate the glory of Libraries.io, but coders and software developers definitely will: The website lists thousands of pieces of open-source software. These packages and tools are free to the public, and you can use for them for any programming project. The site has a wide selection of package managers including WordPress, PyPi, Rubygems, Atom and Platform IO.

A Libraries.io account also alerts you to software updates and sends notifications about incompatibility and dependency issues.

5. Make money using a search site

Microsoft developed its own search engine, Bing, as a direct competitor to Google. Nobody is going to pretend that Bing has the popularity or reach of Google, but the free service is still very powerful, and there is even an incentive to use it: Microsoft will pay and reward you for your web searches. Go to bing.com/rewards to sign up.

How does it work? The system is called Microsoft Rewards, which pays users in the form of Amazon, Starbucks, Burger King, Xbox, Microsoft Store or other types of gift cards, as well as sweepstakes entries. Related: Looking for ways to make money online? Listen to this Komando on Demand Podcast for legitimate opportunities.

After signing up for a Microsoft account, sign into Bing using the account and begin searching to earn reward points. The system then tracks your points in the upper-right part of the screen, so you can keep track of your earnings while you do what you normally do anyway: search with Bing.

6. Private search engine

At first glance, StartPage.com looks a lot like Google. It has the same search field, and the same bolded and underlined websites pop up, arranged by relevance and popularity. You may not notice a difference, except for the color scheme and the absence of Google Doodles.

But StartPage is designed to retain your privacy. The engine doesn’t collect data, doesn’t keep tabs on your movements, and it isn’t owned by a gigantic corporation. The site is designed to retain privacy, yet it retains much of the power and ease of use that Google does.

If you like StartPage, you can open an account and use its free email service. This is a terrific option for people who use search engines for very basic research and are concerned about exposing their personal information.

7. Search without being tracked by Google

Similar to StartPage, the purpose of DuckDuckGo is to retain privacy. The company proudly abstains from targeted ads – though it does have sponsored ads in the first one or two search results that are relevant to your keywords. DuckDuckGo has a clean interface and deftly aggregates digital news. The “meanings” tab is a nice touch, as it helps analysis the significance of search terms.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Pratik Dholakiya - Uploaded by the Association Member: Barbara larson] 

Important changes are happening at Google and, in a world where marketing and algorithms intersect, those changes are largely happening under the radar.

The future of search looks like it will have considerably less search in it, and this isn’t just about the end of the 10 blue links, but about much more fundamental changes.

Let’s talk about some of those changes now, and what they mean for SEO.

Google Discover

Google Discover is a content recommendation engine that suggests content across the web-based on a user’s search history and behavior.

Discover isn’t completely new (it was introduced in December of 2016 as Google Feed). But Google made an important change in late October (announced in September) when they added it to the Google homepage.

The revamp and rebranding to Discover added features like:

  • Topic headers to categorize feed results.
  • More images and videos.
  • Evergreen content, as opposed to just fresh content.
  • A toggle to tell Google if you want more or less content similar to a recommendation.
  • Google claims the recommendations are personalized to your level of expertise with a topic.

Google Discover hardly feels revolutionary at first. In fact, it feels overdue.

Our social media feeds are already dominated by content recommendation engines, and the YouTube content recommendation engine is responsible for 70% of the time spent on the site.

But Discover could have massive implications for the future of how users interact with the content of the web.

While it’s unlikely Discover will ever reach the 70% level of YouTube’s content recommendation engine, if it swallows even a relatively small portion of Google search, say 10%, no SEO strategy will be complete without a tactic for earning that kind of traffic, especially since it will allow businesses to reach potential customers who aren’t even searching for the relevant terms yet.

Google Assistant

For most users, Google Assistant is a quiet and largely invisible revolution.

Its introduction to Android devices in February 2017 likely left most users feeling like it was little more than an upgraded Google Now, and in a sense that’s exactly what it is.

But as Google Assistant grows, it will increasingly influence how users interact with the web and decrease reliance on search.

Like its predecessor, Assistant can:

  • Search the web.
  • Schedule events and alarms.
  • Show Google account info.
  • Adjust device settings.

But the crucial difference is its ability to engage in two-way conversations, allowing users to get answers from the system without ever even looking at a search result.

An incredibly important change for the future of business and the web is the introduction of Google Express, the capability to add products to a shopping cart and order them entirely through Assistant.

But this feature is limited to businesses that are explicitly partnered with Google Express, an incredibly dramatic change from the Google search engine and its crawling of the open web.

Assistant can also identify what some images are. Google Duplex, an upcoming feature, will also allow Assistant to call businesses to schedule appointments and other similar actions on the user’s behalf.

The more users rely on Assistant, the less they will rely on Google search results, and the more businesses who hope to adapt will need to think of other ways to:

  • Leverage Assistant’s algorithms and other emerging technologies to fill in the gaps.
  • Adjust their SEO strategies to target the kind of behavior that is exclusive to search and search alone.

Google’s Declaration of a New Direction

Circa Google’s 20th anniversary, Google announced that its search product was closing an old chapter and opening a new one, with important new driving principles added.

They started by clarifying that these old principles wouldn’t be going away:

  • Focusing on serving the user’s information needs.
  • Providing the most relevant, high-quality information as quickly as possible.
  • Using an algorithmic approach.
  • Rigorously testing every change, including using quality rating guidelines to define search goals.

This means you should continue:

  • Putting the user first.
  • Being accurate and relevant.
  • Having some knowledge of algorithms.
  • Meeting Google’s quality rating guidelines.

But the following principles represent a dramatically new direction for Google Search:

Shifting from Answers to Journeys

Google is adding new features that will allow users to “pick up where they left off,” shifting the focus away from short-term answers to bigger, ongoing projects.

This currently already includes activity cards featuring previous pages visited and queries searched, the ability to add content to collections, and tabs that suggest what to learn about next, personalized to the user’s search history.

A new Topic layer has also been added to the Knowledge Graph, allowing Google to surface evergreen content suggestions for users interested in a particular topic.

Perhaps the most important change to watch carefully, Google is looking for ways to help users who don’t even make a search query.

Google Discover is central to this effort and the inclusion of evergreen content, not just fresh content, represents an important change in how Google is thinking about the feed. This means more and more traditional search content will become feed content instead.

Shifting from Text to Visual Representation

Google is making important changes in the way information is presented by adding new visual capabilities.

They are introducing algorithmically generated AMP Stories, video compilations with relevant caption text like age and notable events in a person’s life.

New featured videos have been added to the search, designed to offer an overview on topics you are interested in.

Image search has also been updated so that images featured on pages with relevant content take priority and pages where the image is central to the content rank better. Captions and suggested searches have been added as well.

Finally, Google Lens allows you to perform a visual search based on objects that Google’s AI can detect in the image.

These changes to search are slipping under the radar somewhat for now, since user behavior rarely changes overnight.

But the likelihood that these features and Google’s new direction will have a dramatic impact on how search works is very high.

SEOs who ignore these changes and continue operating with a 2009 mindset will find themselves losing ground to competitors.

SEO After Search

While queries will always be an important part of the way we find information online, we’re now entering a new era of search.

An era that demands we start changing the way we think about SEO soon, while we can capitalize on the changing landscape.

The situation is not unlike when Google first came on the scene in 1998 when new opportunities were on the horizon that most at the time were unaware of and ill-prepared for.

As the technological landscape changes, we will need to alter our strategies and start thinking about questions and ideas like these in our vision for the future of our brands:

  • Less focus on queries and more focus on context appears inevitable. Where does our content fit into a user’s journey? What would they have learned before consuming it, and what will they need to know next? Note that this is much more vital than simply a shift from keywords to topics, which has been happening for a very long time already. Discovery without queries is much more fundamental and impacts our strategies in a much more profound way.
  • How much can we incorporate our lead generation funnel into that journey as it already exists, and how much can we influence that journey to push it in a different direction?
  • How can we create content and resources that users will want to bookmark and add to collections?
  • Why would Google recommend our content as a useful evergreen resource in Discover, and for what type of user?
  • Can we partner with Google on emerging products? How do we adapt when we can’t?
  • How should we incorporate AMP stories and similar visual content into our content strategy?
  • What type of content will always be exclusive to query-based search, and should we focus more or less on this type of content?
  • What types of content will Google’s AI capacities ultimately be able to replace entirely, and on what timeline? What will Google Assistant and it’s successors never be able to do that only content can?
  • To what extent is it possible for SEOs to adopt a “post-content” strategy?

With the future of search having Google itself doing more of the “searching” on the user’s behalf, we will need to get more creative in our thinking.

We must recognize that surfacing content has never been Google’s priority. It has always been focused on providing information.

Bigger Than Google

The changes on the horizon also signal that the SEO industry ought to start thinking bigger than Google.

What does that mean?

It means expanding the scope of SEO from search to the broader world where algorithms and marketing intersect.

It’s time to start thinking more about how our skills apply to:

  • Content recommendation engines
  • Social media algorithms
  • Ecommerce product recommendation engines
  • Amazon’s search algorithms
  • Smart devices, smart homes, and the internet of things
  • Mobile apps
  • Augmented reality

As doors on search close, new doors open everywhere users are interacting with algorithms that connect to the web and the broader digital world.

SEO professionals should not see the decline of traditional search as a death knell for the industry.

Instead, we should look at the inexorably increasing role algorithms play in peoples’ lives as a fertile ground full of emerging possibilities.

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in proprivacy.com By Douglas Crawford - Uploaded by the Association Member: Edna Thomas]

Using a private search engine such as StartPage or DuckDuckGo is becoming ever more important. These usually leverage the big search engines in order to return results, but proxy search requests so that Google or Yahoo or Microsoft do not know who did the search. In other words, these see only that the search query came from the privacy search engine.

These privacy search engines promise not to log your IP address or any searches you make. Does this sound good to you? Good. The next question, then, is which privacy search engine to use…

Best Private Search Engine

Here are the best private search engines that are anonymous and make a great Google alternative.

Keep reading this guide to learn more about each private search engine in-depth.

What Does Google Know About Me?

The problem with most search engines is that they spy on you. This is their business model – to learn as much about you as possible, to deliver highly targeted advertising directly to your browser window.

Google has even recently dropped its moratorium on combining what it learns by scanning your emails with what it learns about you through your searches. All the better to spy on you. Information typically collected and stored each time you make a search includes:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time of query
  • Query search terms
  • Cookie ID – this cookie is deposited in your browser’s cookie folder, and uniquely identifies your computer. With it, a search engine provider can trace a search request back to your computer.

This information is usually transmitted to the requested web page, and to the owners of any third party advertising banners displayed on that page. As you surf the internet, advertisers build up a (potentially highly embarrassing) profile of you.

Of course, if Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, etc., know lots about you, this information can be (and often is) handed over to the police and the NSA. So it's a good time to get a Google alternative.

Indeed, it was only recently that evidence emerged showing Yahoo works with hand in glove with the NSA to betray its users to the intelligence service. Naughty, naughty.

Screenshot 1

Google Transparency Report on the number of User Data Requests received, and the number (at least partially) acceded to

The filter bubble: what the internet is hiding from you

An added benefit of using a search engine that does not track you is that it avoids the “filter bubble” effect. Most search engines use your past search terms (and things you “Like” on social networks) to profile you.They can then return results they think will interest you. 

This can result in only receiving search returns that agree with your point of view, and this locks you into a “filter bubble,” where you do not get to see alternative viewpoints and opinions because they have been downgraded in your search results.

Not only does this deny you access to the rich texture and multiplicity of human input, but it can also be hazardous as it can confirm prejudices, and prevent you from seeing the “bigger picture”.

Startpage.com

Startpage2

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Non-targeted ads
  • Can proxy webpages
  • Based in Netherlands
  • Google results

CONS

  • Runs servers in the US (but can you choose non-US servers)

Startpage.com and Ixquick are run by the same company. In the past, Startpage.com returned Google results, while Ixquick returned results from a number of other search engines, but not Google. The two services have now been combined, and both return identical Google results.

Although no longer actively supported, the old Ixquick metasearch engine is still available at Ixquick.eu. Interestingly, despite no longer being actively supported, Startpage.com has recently removed Yahoo results from the legacy search engine. This is in response to news that Yahoo has been helping the NSA spy on its users.

Search results

  • Suggestions are not offered as you type by default, but this can be enabled in settings.
  • Search returns are fast, but perhaps not as fast as those of DuckDuckGo (this is a purely subjective assessment).
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Searches can be only filtered by Web, Images and Video categories. An advanced search option is available that allows you to specify a variety of search parameters, and you can filter results by time.
  • Ads are displayed above the search results. They are clearly marked as ads and are not mixed with the “pure” search results.
  • Video results display an image preview. YouTube cannot be played directly on the Startpage website for privacy reasons and will open in a new tab. 
  • Search results are pulled directly from Google and are therefore very good.

Startpage

Ads are discrete but clearly labeled

How it makes money

Much like DuckDuckGo, Startpage.com makes money from ads and affiliate links. 

These ads are untargeted, clearly marked, and not mixed in with the “real” search returns. They are somewhat more prominently displayed than with DuckDuckGo, however.

Privacy

  • Startpage is based in the Netherlands, which has strong privacy laws.
  • It runs servers collocated in the US. These are owned and controlled by Startpage, and I am assured that they are secure against government snooping. If this worries you, however…
  • It is possible to use non-US servers only (or non-EU servers).
  • Web pages returned from searches can be proxied (see below).
  • Startpage is the only privacy search engine that has been independently audited.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Features

Startpage.com’s killer feature is that, rather than visiting a website directly, you can proxy the connection. If you select this option, then a proxy server run by Startpage.com sits between your computer and the website.

 This prevents the website from knowing your true IP address (much like a VPN), and from being able to use web tracking and fingerprinting technologies to identify and track you. It also blocks malicious scripts. 

The downside is that pages load more slowly since StartPage.com must retrieve the contents and re-display them. That said, the newly re-branded and redesigned "Anonymous View" is much faster than was previously the case. It also breaks websites much less because it allows JavaScript "while rewriting and 'redefining' JavaScript primitives to protect your privacy." 

I must say that this is a terrific feature and one that can significantly improve your privacy. Given its downside, however, you probably won’t want to use it all the time.

My thoughts

With its new re-design, StartPage.com matches DuckDuckGo in terms of prettiness and user-friendliness.

But thanks to being based in the Netherlands and having nothing to do with Yahoo, it should be more resistant to NSA spying than its US-based rival (if you specify non-US servers!). And the ability to proxy web pages is an absolute doozy.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • Looks great
  • Discrete non-targeted ads
  • Bangs
  • Contextual filters

CONS

  • US company
  • Uses Amazon servers
  • Yahoo results

DuckDuckGo is “The Search Engine that Vows Not to Track You”. Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, has stated that “if the FBI comes to us, we have nothing to tie back to you.”

It is a US-based company and is the most popular and high-profile of the privacy search engines. Searches are primarily sourced via Yahoo, with whom DuckDuckGo has a strong relationship.

This is very worrying given recent revelations about its ties to the NSA, but DuckDuckGo continues to promise that it does not collect or share personal information.

Search results

  • DuckDuckGo offers search suggestions as you type in a query.
  • Search returns are speedy.
  • This includes image and video search returns.
  • Presentation of results is very clear.
  • Search filter categories include Web, Images, Videos, Products, Meanings, Definition, and News. Displayed filters are adaptive, and DDG will initially show results under the filter category that it feels is most appropriate to the search terms. Depending on the filter selected, DuckDuckGo may display image, video or Wikipedia previews at either the top of the search page or in a box to the right of the results.
  • Ads may also be displayed to the right of search results. Paid ads are clearly marked as such, are discreet, and are never mixed in with the “pure” search returns.
  • Image results, however, can only be filtered by size (Small, Medium. Large).
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. YouTube videos can be played directly from DDG the website, but a warning alerts you to the fact that these will be tracked by YouTube/Google.
  • Results can also be filtered by country and date (Anytime, Past Day, Past Week or Past Month).
  • Subjectively, I find the quality of DuckDuckGo’s search returns to be very good. I have seen complaints, however, by others who do not find them as good as those from Google. This is one reason why “bangs” are so useful (see below).

DuckDuckGo1

Here we can see both the contextual filter in actual (auto-direct to Products) and DDG's discrete ads

How it makes money

DuchDuckGo displays adsalongside its search results. These are sourced from Yahoo as part of the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. By default, when advertisers sign up for a Bing Ads account, their ads automatically enter rotation into all of Bing’s distribution channels, including DuckDuckGo 

Importantly, however, these ads are untargeted (they are displayed based on your search terms). And as already noted, they are clearly marked and are shown separately from the “pure” search returns.

DuckDuckGo is part of the affiliate programs of Amazon and eBay. When you visit those sites through DuckDuckGo and subsequently make a purchase, it receives a small commission. No personally identifiable information is given out in this way, however, and this does not influence search result rankings.

Privacy

DuckDuckGo states that does not collect or share personal information.

  • An affiliate code may be added to some eCommerce sites (e.g., Amazon & eBay), but this does not include any personally identifiable information.
  • Being based in the US means that DuckDuckGo is subject to government pressure and laws such as FISA and the Patriot Act. This means that the US government could mandate that DuckDuckGo start logging its users’ activities. And prevent the company from alerting users to this fact via a Gag order.
  • DuckDuckGo uses Amazon servers. Again, this is a US company, subject to pressure from the US government.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A+

Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, has contacted me regarding this article. Please see the Update at the bottom of this page for his answers to some criticisms expressed here.

Features

In addition to its rather nifty contextual filters, the most striking feature of DuckDuckGo is “bangs”. 

These allow you to search other websites quickly and easily. For example, typing !guk before a search query will return Google UK search results, and typing !a will search the Amazon store for you.

Note that bangs take you to the website in question. The searches are not proxied, so you lose an element of privacy if you bang Google directly. Fortunately, there is a solution. You can combine bangs with Startpage.com (see review above) by typing !s or !sp, and because Startpage.com uses Google, you can have the best of both worlds.

My thoughts

DuckDuckGo offers good looking and easy-to-use interface, although some may prefer Google to the primarily Yahoo-based search results.

Bangs are a killer feature, however, and one that goes a long way towards compensating for this issue. Just remember that if you want to query Google and protect your privacy, it makes sense to bang into StartPage.com with the !s or !sp for Google search results in privacy instead of going to Google directly.

It is little surprise, then, that DuckDuckGo is so popular. But the fact that it is a US company should sound a note of caution.

SearX

SearX

PROS

  • Can be self-hosted
  • Choose which search engines to leverage
  • Can proxy webpages
  • No ads

CONS

  • Public instances could be logged

Less well-known, but fast gaining traction with the security community is SearX. Not only is SearX fully open source, but it is easy to set up and to run your own instance of it.

There is an official public SearX instance, or you can use one of many volunteer-run public instances. But what SearX is really about is running your own instance. This makes SearX the only metasearch engine where you can be 100 percent sure that no logs are kept!

Search results

  • By default, SearX leverages results from a large number of search engines.

Search results

In Preferences, users can change which search engines are used

  • Search suggestions are not offered
  • Searches can be filtered by the following categories: General, Files, Images, IT, Map (using OpenStreetMap), Music, News, Science, Social Media, and Videos. They can also be filtered by time.
  • There are no ads.
  • Wikipedia entries are displayed to the right of search results.
  • There are no additional filters for Images, although a preview is displayed when they are clicked on.
  • Video results display a thumbnail preview. Clicking on a video takes you to the website it is hosted on (for example YouTube or Vimeo).
  • Search results can be downloaded as a .csv, .json., or rss file.
  • As with Startpage, search results can be viewed proxied. This will “break” many websites, but does allow for a very high level of privacy.
  • Search results are as good as the engine’s selected. The official instance uses Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and a host of other first-rate engines by default, so the results are excellent.

Search results 2

The are no ads, search suggestions are listed to the right, and as with Startpage, you can proxy webpages

How it makes money

SearX is an open source project run by volunteers. On the official instance, there is no on-site advertising and no affiliate marketing.

Because it is open source, individual operators of public SearX instances are free to introduce their own finance models. But I have yet to find a single instance that is not 100 percent ad and affiliate-free.

Privacy

  • There is no way to know if a public SearX instance operator is logging your searches. And this includes the official instance.
  • That being said, there is no way to guarantee that DDG, Startpage, or any other “private” search engines are not logging your searches either…
  • If you are serious about privacy, therefore, you should set up your own SearX instance. In fact, setting up your own SearX instance on a server that only you directly control is the only way currently available to guarantee that your searches are not logged.
  • This makes self-hosted SearX instances by far the most secure search engines available. Documentation for installing your own SearX instance is available here.
  • For the casual user, public SearX instances are unlikely to log your searches and are much less likely to be monitored by the likes of the NSA than the other services mentioned here.
  • Just remember, though, that there is no way to be sure of this.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report for searx.me (the official instance): A. Note that each SearX instance (public or private) is different in this respect.

Features

As with Startpage, the ability to proxy websitesis a killer feature if you can live with it breaking many websites that you visit. 

 

My thoughts

For serious tech-savvy privacy-heads, a self-hosted SearX instance is the way to go. Simply put, nothing else is in the same league when it comes to knowing for certain that your searches are not logged.

More casual users may also be surprised at how well the software works on public instances. My personal feelings are that these are much less likely to log your searches or be spied on by the US and other governments than DuckDuckGo, Startpage or Disconnect. But this is purely speculation.

Disconnect Search

PROS

  • No logs or tracking
  • No ads
  • Choice of search engines

CONS

  • US company (so beware the NSA)
  • Uses Amazon servers (so beware the NSA)

Before writing a Disconnect review, we knew the US-based company had made a name for itself with some excellent open source privacy-oriented browser extensions. One of these is the open-source Disconnect Search add-on for Firefox and Chrome (a non-open source Android app is also available).

This browser add-on is still the primary way to use Disconnect Search, although a JavaScript web app is available. This mimics the browser extension, and allow you to perform web searches from the Disconnect Search web page.

Disconnect also markets a Premium VPN and online security app, with Disconnect Search functionality built-in. Please see my Disconnect review for more details on this.

Search results

  • Searches are usually made from the browser add-on.
  • You can select which of three search engines to query: Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo (default).
  • Unlike the other privacy metasearch engines discussing this article, Disconnect does not display search returns on its own website. Results are simply routed through Disconnect’s servers to hide their origin and are then opened in the selected search engine’s webpage.
  • Incognito mode searches are supported.

The browser extension

The browser extension

How it makes money

Disconnect markets a Premium product, but the Disconnect Search browser extension is free. It hides your IP when doing searchesbut then sends you directly to the selected search engine. 

This means that Disconnect performs no advertising or affiliate marketing of its own when doing a search.

Privacy

  • Disconnect is a US company and is therefore not a good choice for the more NSA-phobic out there.
  • The browser extension is open source, but search requests can still be logged by Disconnect, as they are made through its servers.
  • Disconnect hosts its service on Amazon servers.
  • Qualys SSL labs security report: A (this is for the Disconnect.me website).

My thoughts

The Disconnect Search browser extension provides a quick and easy way to hide your true identity while doing searches using your favorite search engine. The fact that Disconnect is US-based, however, is a major issue. 

Honorary mention: Peekier

Peekier is a new no-logs search engine. There is not enough information about this service currently available for me to give it a proper assessment. It is worth mentioning, however, because of the attractive and innovative way that it displays search results.

search

In a field were where, if we are honest, most search engines look pretty similar, it is great to see a different approach. I, therefore, think it worth flagging up Peekier and keeping an eye on the service to see how it develops.

Privacy Search Engines Conclusion

Using any of these services engines will significantly improve your search privacy. Crucially, your searches will not be recorded to help build a profile that is used to sell you stuff. All the search engines I looked at in this article are easy to use and return good results.

Will these services protect your searches from government surveillance (and the NSA in particular)? In the case of US companies, it is safest to assume not. But unless you are doing something very illegal, this may not concern you (although it should).

Startpage is non-US based, has been independently audited, and allows you to access websites with a great deal of privacy thanks to its proxy feature. It is, therefore, a much better choice for privacy-heads than DuckDuckGo.

Public SearX instances are less likely to be monitored than other higher-profile search engines, but they may be. It is also likely that you will know nothing about their operators. Running your own SearX instance on hardware directly under your control, however, is an extremely secure and private solution. And is therefore only one that I can recommend to serious privacy fanatics.

The fact the SearX has a great interface and returns on-the-button results from all the major search engines is the icing on the cake.

 

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in lifehacker.com By Mike Epstein - Uploaded by the Association Member: Joshua Simon]

The internet, as a “place,” is constantly growing. We build more and more webpages every day—so many, in fact, that it can feel as if certain corners of it are lost to time.

As it turns out, they may only be lost to Google. Earlier this year, web developer-bloggers Tim Bray and Marco Fioretti noted that Google seems to have stopped indexing the entirety of the internet for Google Search. As a result, certain old websites—those more than 10 years old—did not show up through Google search. Both writers lamented that limiting Google’s effective memory to the last decade, while logical when faced with the daunting task of playing information concierge to our every whimsical question, forces us to reckon with the fact that, when you use Google for historical searches, there are probably more answers out there.

As a BoingBoing post based on Bray’s points out, DuckDuckGo and Bing both still seem to offer more complete records of the internet, specifically showing web pages that Google stopped indexing for search. If you’re looking for a specific website from before 2009 and can’t find it, either one is a solid first step. If that doesn’t work, it’s always possible someone else who needed the same page you were looking for saving it as an archive on the Wayback Machine.

But what about broad questions? Questions where you don’t already know the answer? Historical research from the early web? There are other, more specialized options for that. A Hacker News forum post suggests a couple of search engines. Million Short, which allows you to run a search and automatically skip the most popular answers to probe deeper into the web. Wiby.me is a “search engine for classic websites,” made to help people find hobbyist pages and other archaic features of the internet.

The Hacker news thread also brings up Pinboard, a minimalist bookmarking service similar to Pocket, which has a key feature for archivists: If you sign up for its premium service—$11 per year—Pinboard will make a web archive of every page you save. If you’re looking at older, unindexed material, such a tool can make it easier to go back to specific parts of the older internet that you may want or need to recall again.

Categorized in How to

[Source: This article was published in hothardware.com By Rod Scher - Uploaded by the Association Member: Robert Hensonw]

We have all heard of the dark web: a lawless digital world, uncharted and unstructured, full of data -- much of it illegally acquired and illegally for sale -- that cannot be viewed without special tools: proxy servers, TOR browsers, and the like. It's a murky and mysterious place, a place where much information resides but is difficult to unearth for the uninitiated.



Until now. Canada's Echosec Systems Ltd. recently released Beacon, a security tool that's designed to shed some light on the dark web.

Karl1
 Karl Swannie is the CEO of Echosec, the company behind Beacon

"Beacon is a dark web search engine that allows users to search anonymously, without the need for a TOR browser," says Echosec CTO Michael Raypold. "We’ve designed Beacon to be simple to interact with, while incorporating powerful advanced search tools, making searching unindexed data in the dark web as easy as using a surface web search engine."

The idea behind Beacon is that it can be used by a company to potentially head off -- or at the very least mitigate -- a potential disaster. Since the bulk of the data on the dark web is essentially unstructured, the Echosec team crawled the dark web, indexed its content and then build a natural language query interface that allows non-hackers to access that information quickly and easily. Simply put, Beacon is like Google for the dark web.

small beacongrab

With Beacon, dark web data can be searched by a variety of criteria. Specific types of data (credit cards, emails, etc.) can be searched for explicitly.


Keep in mind, of course, that not everything on the dark web is illegal.

Says Raypold, "The dark web is a place where you can source illegal or illicit materials because the inherent privacy and anonymity baked into platforms like the TOR network makes buying and selling these goods easier to achieve without repercussions. However, that isn’t to say everything on the dark web is illegal. News organization like the NYTimes and Pro Publica maintain Onion sites for their more privacy-conscious users and to help disseminate news that might otherwise be censored." Still, much of the dark web's content was acquired illegally and can be misused to spread misinformation, victimize vulnerable populations, execute social engineering exploits, or engage in various forms of identity theft.

We all know that information in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Raypold cites the story of Coca-Cola's attempt, some years back, to acquire a Chinese soft drink company. Unbeknownst to high-level Coca-Cola executives, the company's secret plans and negotiation tactics were in fact not secret at all, because Coca-Cola had been previously hacked, thanks to a phishing email opened by a Coca-Cola exec.

Beacon did not exist at that time (2009), but it's likely that some of the information retrieved from the hack and many pilfered emails would have ended up on the dark web; if so, Beacon could have unearthed them, letting the company know of its vulnerability long before 2009 and perhaps allowing Coca-Cola to mitigate the damage. (In the end, the acquisition fell through, most likely because Coca-Cola -- having lost control of its confidential information -- had also lost any leverage it might have had in the negotiations.)

The goal of Beacon, says Raypold, is to allow companies to easily examine data on the dark web as a way of locating the potentially harmful information that’s stored there: this could include stolen corporate emails, company documents, personal info, or other such data that could be detrimental to a company, its brand, or its customers. After all, if your data has been compromised, it's always better to know than not to know.

Mike
Mike Raypold is the CTO of Echosec, LTD.

"Beacon allows teams to more quickly identify and respond to information that can materially damage a company’s brand and consumer trust," says Raypold. "Being able to quickly identify a sensitive problem also means that you can start putting a solution in place and notify your customers before they find out through other means."

Of course, a security tool is but another weapon in the wrong hands, and weapons can be misused; it's one thing for a pen-tester or white-hat hacker to be in possession of systems that can locate or uncover data, but what about someone finding a way to misuse Beacon? While Raypold notes that it is possible to misuse Beacon, since the tool makes it easier for users to locate data they might otherwise have difficulty finding, he says that the company has taken steps to mitigate that danger.

"First, every Echosec customer must go through a use-case approval process to determine how the customer is using the application and to make sure they are in compliance with the vendors from whom the data Is sourced," says Raypold. "If a potential customer cannot pass the use-case approval process, they do not get access to the system."

Second, the company has built automated tools and manual processes into its platform and into the company workflows to notify the Echosec team if users attempt to run searches that are in violation of their approved use case.

"The checks built into the platform will outright prevent some searches from being run, so that users never receive data that we perceive could be used with malicious intent. Furthermore, some of the vendors from whom we source data have asked us to prevent certain queries from being run, regardless of a customer's use case," says Raypold. (Naturally, the company publishes an "acceptable use" policy, which can be found here.)

Echosec expects to sell Beacon mainly to corporate customers interested in keeping tabs on their intellectual property, corporate secrets, and other sensitive data. White-hat hackers -- such as pen-testers -- could conceivably be a market as well, but the company feels that would be fairly uncommon. And if it did occur, it would simply be viewed as an example of contracted security experts acting on behalf of the ultimate corporate customer.



However, (and by whomever) Beacon is used, it looks as if the murky landscape of the dark web is no longer quite as dark as it once was.

Categorized in Deep Web

[Source: This article was published in observer.com By Harmon Leon - Uploaded by the Association Member: Paul L.]

On HBO’s Silicon Valley, the Pied Piper crew’s mission is to create a decentralized internet that cuts out intermediaries like FacebookGoogle, and their fictional rival, Hooli. Surely a move that would make Hooli’s megalomaniac founder Gavin Belson (also fictional) furious.

In theory, no one owns the internet. No. Not Mark Zuckerberg, not Banksy, not annoying YouTube sensation Jake Paul either. No—none of these people own the internet because no one actually owns the internet.

But in practice, a small number of companies really control how we use the internet. Sure, you can pretty much publish whatever you want and slap up a website almost instantaneously, but without Google, good luck getting folks to find your site. More than 90 percent of general web searches are handled by the singular humongous search engine—Google.

If things go sour with you and Google, the search giant could make your life very difficult, almost making it appear like you’ve been washed off the entire internet planet. Google has positioned itself as pretty much the only game in town.

Colin Pape had that problem. He’s the founder of Presearch, a decentralized search engine powered by a community with roughly 1.1 million users. Presearch uses cryptocurrency tokens as an incentive to decentralize search. The origin story: Before starting Presearch, Google tried to squash Pape’s business, well not exactly squash, but simply erase it from searches.

Let’s backtrack.

In 2008, Pape founded a company called ShopCity.com. The premise was to support communities and get their local businesses online, then spread that concept to other communities in a franchise-like model. In 2011, Pape’s company launched a local version in Google’s backyard of Mountain View, California.

End of story, right? No.

“We woke up one morning in July to find out that Google had demoted almost all of our sites onto page eight of the search results,” Pape explained. Pape and his crew thought it was some sort of mistake; still, the demotion of their sites was seriously hurting the businesses they represented, as well as their company. But something seemed fishy.

Pape had read stories of businesses that had essentially been shut down by Google—or suffered serious consequences such as layoffs and bankruptcy—due to the jockeying of the search engine.

“Picture yourself as a startup that launches a pilot project in Google’s hometown,” said Pape, “and 12 months later, they launch a ‘Get Your City Online’ campaign with chambers of commerce, and then they block your sites. What would you think?”

It was hard for Pape not to assume his company had been targeted because it was easy enough for Google to simply take down sites from search results.

“We realized just how much market power Google had,” Pape recalled. “And how their lack of transparency and responsiveness was absolutely dangerous to everyone who relies on the internet to connect with their customers and community.”

google

Google’s current search engine model makes us passive consumers who are fed search results from a black box system into which none of us have any insight. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

 

Fortunately, Pape’s company connected with a lawyer leading a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into Google’s monopolistic practices. Through the press, they put pressure on Google to resolve its search issues.

This was the genesis for Presearch, ‘the Switzerland of Search,’ a resource dedicated to the more open internet on a level playing field.

“The vision for Presearch is to build a framework that enables many different groups to build their own search engine with curated information and be rewarded for driving usage and improving the platform,” Pape told Observer.

But why is this so important?

“Because search is how we access the amazing resources on the web,” Pape continued. “It’s how we find things that we don’t already know about. It’s an incredibly powerful position for a single entity [Google] to occupy, as it has the power to shape perceptions, shift spending and literally make or break entire economies and political campaigns, and to determine what and how we think about the world.”

You have to realize that nothing is truly free.

Sure, we use Google for everything from looking for a local pet groomer to finding Tom Arnold’s IMDB page. (There are a few other things in between.) Google isn’t allowing us to search out of the goodness of its heart. When we use Google, we’re essentially partaking in a big market research project, in which our information is being tracked, analyzed and commoditized. Basically, our profiles and search results are sold to the highest bidders. We are the product—built upon our usage. Have you taken the time to read Google’s lengthy terms of service agreement? I doubt it.

How else is Sergey Brin going to pay for his new heliport or pet llama?

Stupid free Google.

Google’s current model makes us passive consumers who are fed search results from a black box system into which none of us have any insight. Plus, all of those searches are stored, so good luck with any future political career if a hacker happens to get a hold of that information.

Presearch’s idea is to allow the community to look under the hood and actively participate in this system with the power of cryptocurrency to align participant incentives within the ecosystem to create a ground-up, community-driven alternative to Google’s monopoly.

“Every time you search, you receive a fraction of a PRE token, which is our cryptocurrency,” explained Pape. “Active community members can also receive bonuses for helping to improve the platform, and everyone who refers a new user can earn up to 25 bonus PRE.”

Tokens can be swapped for other cryptocurrencies, such Bitcoin, used to buy advertising, sold to other advertisers or spent on merchandise via Presearch’s online platform.

Presearch’s ethos is to personalize the search engine rather than allowing analytics to be gamed against us, so users are shown what they want to see. Users can specify their preferences to access the information they want, rather than enveloping them in filter bubbles that reinforce their prejudices and bad behaviors, simply to makes them click on more ads.

“We want to empower people rather than control them,” Pape said. “The way to do that is to give them choices and make it easy for them to ‘change the channel,’ so to speak if the program they’re being served isn’t resonating with them.”

Another thing to fear about Google, aside from the search engine being turned on its head and being used as a surveillance tool in a not-so-distant dystopian future, is an idea that’s mentioned in Jon Ronson book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. People’s lives have been ruined due to Google search results that live on forever after false scandalous accusations.

How will Presearch safeguard us against this?

“We are looking at a potential model where people could stake their tokens to upvote or downvote results, and then enable community members to vote on those votes,” said Pape. “This would enable mechanisms to identify false information and provide penalties for those who promote it. This is definitely a tricky subject that we will involve the community in developing policies for.”

Pape’s vision is very much aligned with Pied Piper’s on HBO’s Silicon Valley.

“It is definitely pretty accurate… a little uncanny, actually,” Pape said after his staff made him watch the latest season. “It was easy to see where the show drew its inspiration from.”

But truth is stranger than fiction. “The problems a decentralized internet are solving are real, and will become more and more apparent as the Big Tech companies continue to clamp down on the original free and open internet in favor of walled gardens and proprietary protocols,” he explained. “Hopefully the real decentralized web will be the liberating success that so many of us envision.”

Obviously an alternative to Google’s search monopoly is a good thing. And Pape feels that breaking up Google might help in the short term, but “introducing government control is just that—introducing more control,” Pape said. “We would rather offer a free market solution that enables people to make their own choices, which provides alignment of incentives and communities to create true alternatives to the current dominant forces.”

Presearch may or may not be the ultimate solution, but it’s a step in the right direction

Categorized in Search Engine

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