Five things worth sharing from the last week (or so), brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.
This week’s My Five is by Katie.
Google made the news on this week after a European court ruled that they must delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from search results when a member of the public requests it. The case against Google Spain was filed by Mario Costeja González, who had been trying and failing to get an auction notice from 1998 about his house auction (posted on a large newspapers site) removed from search results.
Stating a ‘right to be forgotten’, the European Union’s court of justice ruled that under existing EU data protection laws Google has to remove links on two pages of the newspaper that appear in the search results for Costeja González’s name. Costeja González had argued that as his house had been auctioned to recover his social security debts, which were now resolved, the matter shouldn’t continue to be linked to his name. The irony is that now his name will now always be linked to the search results about this court case which lists his debt and house repossession as a part of the story….
The case has now established Google as a “data controller” under the data protection laws in the EU, meaning that they have to take responsibility for the content that they link to. This was the first in more than 200 cases of Spanish citizens wanting Google to delete personal information about themselves from their search results, and since Tuesday’s ruling Google have been flooded with other requests for a removal of data – worryingly those include a man convicted of possessing child pornography, a misbehaving politician seeking re-election and a doctor with bad reviews.
It may be May 2014 but Google have only just released their founders letter from 2013, written by Larry Page. Amongst other topics, Page talks about Chrome and its 750 million users, the instant upload of photos on Google+, Android developers earning an average of four times more in 2013 than in 2012, and how there are over a billion android devices activated.
When talking about search Page says that although they are “a million miles away from creating the search engine of (his) dreams” due to the complexities of “understanding information in a deep way”, Google is beginning to tackle that challenge and is starting to provide you with information before you even have to ask. It appears that Page wants search to be an incredibly personalised experience, which echoes what we are beginning to see with personalised results and local listings dominating. He also mentions that there are over 100 billion searches a month and that 15% of these have never been seen before because Google updates its index within seconds to supply the freshest search results.
You can read the letter in full here.
A report by Global Web Index has taken a look at the changes recorded in social media platforms over the last six months. Proving that they were worth the $1 billion price tag Facebook paid for them, Instagram has retained its position as the fastest growing social network with a 25% increase in active users from the end of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014. More than 100 million people (outside of China) claim they actively use it each month – which is an awful lot of filtered images of peoples dinners (and more hashtags than I care to think about.) And with the rise of Tumblr and Pinterest, it is clear that social networks are no longer just social, and beginning to care more about content.
But bad news for Facebook, which has seen a 6% decrease in active users. Although it still has the biggest amount of users (along with Google+, Twitter and YouTube), this could be the start of a trend that sees the smaller networks growing as people lose interest and drop off the big players in social networking.
This week I’ve been watching a lot of the IPL (Indian Premier League). I’m not a fan of test cricket but I love the IPL, which is like if test cricket got really drunk. The crowd go wild, everyone tries to smash the ball, the games are (a lot) shorter, the commentary is hilarious, and there are even cheerleaders.
Breaking away from the stuffy reputation cricket has, the IPL have embraced Twitter. You can download a Twitter IPL calendar which enables you to receive a mobile notification minutes before your favourite team is playing, and they screen tweets from fans, players and experts at the bottom of the screen throughout games. They also have a tweet counter which they screen intermittently. It was big news when that counter hit 2.8 million earlier this week – but my TV viewing last night confirmed that there are well over 3 million now, and with two and a half weeks of the event left the tweets will keep on coming….
The rules on Spotify, the digital music service, state that each song much be at least 30 seconds long to qualify for a payment – and bands get paid according to how often the music is streamed. The rates are reported to be around half a US cent per track, which works out to roughly 0.006p – meaning you need to be attracting an awful lot attention to make any money.
Indie band Vulfpeck, in need of money to pay for a free concert for their fans, asked fans to stream their album on repeat whilst they slept so they could rack up some cash. The genius behind this was that the album ‘Sleepify’ contained ten songs roughly 30 seconds long that were all entirely silent, ensuring their fans continued to get a good night’s sleep. Vulfpeck amassed 4 million or so plays netting themselves around $20,000 (£11,920) before Spotify took down the album because it ‘violated the terms of their content’. Vulfpeck are reportedly able to keep the money (and stick one finger up to Spotify in the process) too.
This highlights a big problem in the music industry – albums no longer sell, they stream. And streaming doesn’t pay the artist, unless you are smart about it like Vulfpeck or ‘musical spam artist’ Matt Farley. Farley releases albums with 100 thirty second songs, all titled to ensure search queries in Spotify, Amazon and iTunes come his way. His hits include “Amanda Knox Is Not Guilty” and “Ryan Gosling, You Are A Great Singer and Actor, Will You Be My Friend?”. He’s got Google nailed too, with a search for his band bringing up their YouTube channel, Facebook page and iTunes listings as top results.