Search Engine Optimisation Is Harder If Companies Change The Rules

Many marketers who do SEO think mainly of Google, and sometimes Bing. But the reality is that any platforms with search have people who try to optimise for a better result. People work hard to try to rank on search engines like YouTube, Amazon and the Apple App Store.

It’s not just optimising performance based on the algorithms. Some companies, including Apple and Amazon have changed their search algorithms to favor the companies themselves. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Amazon altered its search results in ways that boosted its own profits. This was despite a lot of internal pushback.

According to WSJ, Amazon’s retail business pushed for the product search system to take profitability into account. Programmers tasked with running the search algorithm,, reportedly opposed the idea. In part because it goes against the ethos of the company that claims to put the customer above all else.

Amazon’s legal team also raised concerns about the idea. Pointing out that the decision would likely draw scrutiny in The European Union. Google was fined $2.7 billion in 2017 for elevating its own shopping service in the organic search results.

Apple has been known for the same behavior on its owe app store search engine. According to a report from The New York Times Apple’s iOS App Store heavily favored the company’s iPhone and iPad apps, ranking them higher than more popular third-party options. This changed with a recent algorithm update.

The Times says they studied App Store search results (dating back several years) for queries like “music” and “podcasts” finding that Apple regularly favored a handful of its own apps, before getting to apps made by third-party developers.

Writing for Search Engine Land, Greg Sterling said “Visibility and position in App Store search results can be a make or break proposition for developers and startups in particular. Apple now says it has voluntarily remedied the issue in the App Store.

Despite this, the government will continue to scrutinize Apple’s behavior. And the results of any investigation into Apple’s search algorithm and its economic impact may hold implications for Google as well.”

People working in SEO, were overwhelmingly not surprised by this, but definitely find it annoying. Mason Pelt the owner of a Dallas SEO Agency said “I believe Apple, Amazon and Google, are only impartial to the point they have to be, for fear of consumer backlash or regulation. Finding out Apple, Amazon, or Google favored their own products, isn’t surprising. ” Adding in a lecture to a group of small business owners, that “Relentless.com owned by Jeff Bezos still redirects to amazon.com. Why? because they are relentless.”

When asked for tips Pelt said “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you until you have some teeth.” He explained that Spotify filed an antitrust complaint against Apple, but that the only reason he felt the complaint benefited Spotify, rather than ending the company was because Spotify already had millions of users.

Chinese Firms Selling AI Surveillance To African Nations

AI tech is rapidly taking off worldwide being implemented from voice recognition to fake videos to road traffic monitoring. It is also increasingly used to monitor and track citizens, according to a new report.

At least 75 of the 176 countries surveyed globally are now using AI for surveillance purposes. This from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The applications include facial recognition, social media and phone surveillance tools and the more. The main suppliers of these systems worldwide are Chinese companies, led by Huawei, which has supplied these technologies to at least 50 nations around the world.

Steven Feldstein, The study’s author, says that these tools were being used to “accomplish a range of policy objectives—some lawful, others that violate human rights, and many of which fall into a murky middle ground.”

African countries still struggle to adopt AI technologies, and the report notes that less than a quarter of countries invest in these systems. That is partly explained by the fact that the continent is still struggling with Internet connectivity.

However, Chinese companies are rapidly penetrating African markets, offering soft loans for governments to buy their equipment and promising to establish and manage these systems. In Kenya, for example, Huawei has helped install video systems that implemented 1,800 HD cameras and 200 HD traffic surveillance systems in Nairobi. In Zimbabwe, the Guangzhou-based CloudWalk developer announced a controversial agreement in 2018 to oversee a large-scale facial recognition program in collaboration with the authorities. With predictive policing is on the rise, but contested in the first world, early implementation of AI in law enforcement in the third world may set a status quo that people will never rebel against.

The debate on AI technologies also occurs when African nations and activists face issues that including digital privacy, information censorship, surveillance and Internet shutdown. With the lack of privacy laws in nations like Kenya, there is concern about how governments will use these data repositories, where they will be stored and who will have access to them.

Read the Full Story

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Buying Cracking Tech

According to a federal filing Immigration and Customs will pay Cellebrite between $30 and $35 million for technolagy to hack cell phones.

In 2016 Cellebrite became widely known by offering to hack the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter. The $35 million is for “universal forensic extraction devices (UFED)” and “accessories licenses, training and support services.” for 12 months, with the option for extending for up to five years.

CBP needs no warrants to search at borders. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has authority to operate within 100 miles of any U.S. border so, immigration checkpoints could pop up at any place in the U.S. up to 100 miles away from a border. About 65% of the U.S. lives within that distance of an external boundary.

Last year Homeland Security spied on journalists, activists, lawyers and and put them on enhanced screenings list given to CBP, this screening included and device searches by Border Patrol.

Vice confirmed last year the company has also sold hacking tools to to Russia, the UAE, and Turkey. a press release from Cellebrite in 2016 says they have “licenses in 100 countries” this is half of the nation states earth.

Cellebrite may have been involved with the hacking of iPhone in China. The nation state was hacking iPhones of people they have been putting into concentration camps. An ICE employee hung up on me after asking about Cellebrite’s involvement in china.

Hat Tip to Internet News Flash.

Gig Workers Win In California Senate

After most of the year deliberating the California Senate is now passing AB5, a law that is expected to solve problems for contractor from companies like Uber, Lyft and Doordash. In a historic victory, workers in these companies and others like them are likely to be considered employees, who are entitled to the benefits and protections that the statute suggests.

Gig platforms like these have been the subject of increasing criticism that the businesses rely on the misclassification of their workforce as independent contractors, while depriving workers of all significant self-determination of value — a key element of a truly independent entrepreneur. The lack of minimum protections at work has allowed carpool drivers to pay out of pocket for associated costs such as gasoline and vehicle preservation, while platforms determine how and when they shuttle passengers and can fire them at any time for any reason. This unbalanced ness leads to new leadership in the global protests of this disappearing workforce, which, at least in California, finally sees some relief.

The bill, introduced at the California State Conference in January by Assembly Lorena Gonzalez, still needs another passage on the Assembly and Governor Gavin Newsom’s. However, he has recently expressed his support for the initiative, and it is expected that the House will easily adopt the Senate version.

Read More in the New York Times

YouTube Pays $170M After Breaking Children’s Privacy Law

Google the parent compay of YoUTube is paying fines totaling $170 million to the FTC and the New York Attorney General to settle a case of unlawful data collection of children under 13.

The penalty for YouTube is paid out as, $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to the New York Attorney General. The company has also agreed to implement new policies to prevent further violations of COPPA. The FTC called this the largest penalty of its kind to date. However, this fine may not be make some privacy groups happy.

YouTube also must now treat all users viewing children’s videos as if COPPA applies to them, thus limiting data collection to “only to what is needed to support the operation of the service.”

People who work Managing YouTube Channels for brands will have to be up on the new guideline.

Google’s longer-term goal is to more all youngsters to the new separate YouTube Kids sire. A platform with parental controls, more privacy and stricter content guidelines.

Full Story by DCC Mag

Memos Show the U.S. Government Has Been Lying About Backpage All Along

For almost a decade, backpacks has been booed by politicians, criticized by legislators, and dramatically misunderstood by the media, with negative stereotypes reinforced by Hollywood. In early 2010, the top prosecutors in 21 states argued that classified advertising site was “exploiting women and children.” 

The Department of Justice closed Backpage.com in 2018, but it still activates anger and score in some corners. ( “They were selling children, ” said the senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris in March.) A number of founders and former administrators arrested last year on the federal, prostitute and money-laundering awaiting trial in 2020 to prevent the prosecution from seizing the assets.

“For far too long, Backpage.com existed as…a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike,” said then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions upon their April 2018 arrest. U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Strange alleged that Backpage made “hundreds of millions” by “placing profits over the well-being and safety” of victims.

Full Story by Reason Magazine