Facebook Conducts Hundreds Of Experiments, Google Bans Porn, And More… [Tech News Digest]

Also, fallout from the “right to be forgotten,” Yahoo kills several services you have never heard of, Google launches the Project Ara beta, Lindsay Lohan sues Rockstar over GTA V character, and Tetris gets played on a T-shirt.

Facebook Accused Over More Experiments

Facebook rightly received much criticism over conducting a social experiment to influence the mood of its users, but it turns out the practice is much wider than first thought. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook has “run hundreds of tests” since 2007.

This revelation comes courtesy of Andrew Ledvina, a former member of Facebook’s Data Science group. This little-known group comprises dozens of researchers who, according to Ledvina, are “always trying to alter people’s behavior.

Experiments conducted on Facebook’s userbase of 1.3 billion people include a test to see how families communicate, a study of the causes of loneliness, and even a look at how “political mobilization messages” led people to vote in the 2010 elections for the U.S. Congress.

This isn’t quite as serious as the video above would have you believe, but it is still extremely worrying. Read all about Facebook using us as human guinea pigs before letting us know what you think of the new revelations.

Google Bans Porn Advertising

Google has banned porn ads from its service. The company had already cracked down on adult material, but this latest move suggests a concerted effort to clean up its advertising arm.

In its email to those affected by the change Google says it will no longer accept ads which “promote graphic depictions of sexual acts including, but not limited to, hardcore pornography; graphic sexual acts including sex acts such as masturbation; genital, anal, and oral sexual activity.” Which covers pretty much everything any purveyor of porn could offer.

Serial onanists need not worry though, as pornographic websites are still showing up in search results. At least for the time being.

‘The Right To Be Forgotten’ In Action

The “right to be forgotten” in Europe has started to bleed through to Google search results. Marketing Land has pulled together various reports of stories disappearing from Google, with the accusation that this has resulted in nothing less than censorship of the press.

The stories which have been removed from Google search results range from a Scottish football manager who allegedly lied, to French workers decorating their office windows with Post-It notes. This is all serious stuff, obviously and at all now subject to the Streisand effect as a direct result of the “right to be forgotten,.” /sarcasm

Yahoo Does a Little Spring Cleaning

Following hot on the heels of Google’s brief spring cleaning comes Yahoo’s culling of unpopular properties. Most likely to cause upset is Yahoo closing Xobni, a smart email service Yahoo only acquired this time last year. Most of its functions will now be added to Yahoo Mail.

Other Yahoo products being killed off include virtual makeover tool Newlook, financial report generator Research Reports, and bookmarking tool Yahoo Bookmarks. Also going are Yahoo People Search, Yahoo Shine, and Contributors Network, the latter allowing people to contribute content to Yahoo. All will be sorely missed, we’re sure. Or not.

Google Launches Project Ara Beta

Google has moved Project Ara into the beta testing phase, with 100 lucky people chosen from the Ara Scouts program to get prototype handsets. Project Ara is a Google-led effort to create a modular smartphone comprising individual components that can be replaced as and when needed. Google hopes to launch Project Ara sometime in early 2015. Unless, of course, the beta proves to be a complete disaster.

Lindsay Lohan Sues Over GTA V

Lindsay Lohan is suing Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive over what she claims is a video game character based on her. The GTA V character, called Lacey Jonas, is a whiny actress trying to avoid being photographed by the paparazzi.

Lohan claims Jonas is an “unequivocal” representation of Lindsay Lohan, with her image, voice, and clothing depicted. Most gamers who have actually played Grand Theft Auto V will have assumed the character is merely a generic portrayal of all untalented Hollywood starlets. After all, lots of different things inspired elements of GTA V.

Tetris On A T-Shirt

And finally, Tetris has boldly gone where no other video game has gone before… some guy’s T-shirt. In honor of the 30th anniversary of Tetris, Mark Kerger used 128 LEDs, 4 AA batteries, and an Arduino Uno to create a playable Tetris T-shirt. Now, that is dedication. It’s much easier, but perhaps not quite as impressive, to play Tetris clones on the Web.

Your Views On Today’s Tech News

Do the Facebook experiments have you worried and/or livid? Have you ever used any of the services Yahoo is culling? Do you think Lindsay Lohan has a case against Rockstar over the Lacey Jonas character in Grand Theft Auto V?

Let us know your thoughts on the tech news of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Image Credit: David Blackwell via Flickr

8 Comments - Write a Comment

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Tom W

I don’t particularly care about the ethics or privacy points that people are raising about Facebook, but I haven’t yet seen anyone say this: if Facebook’s manipulation is really that wide-spread, then that means that millions of statuses, messages, etc. have gone unseen because Facebook wanted to see what would happen. I’ve been noticing the effects for years, with statuses not appearing in a timeline set to show “most recent”, nor appearing as notifications when requested. I’ve even had Facebook messages show up months after they were actually sent. I assumed this was some sort of glitch, a result of a site that grew to support 1bn active users in a few short years, but now I’m beginning to suspect that there may be another, far more deliberate, reason for it. If Facebook’s experiments continue, people may leave simply because they can’t trust Facebook to function reliably.

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Koshy G

The Right To Be Forgotten is a really horrible policy. I can’t believe people aren’t freaking about this.

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Dave P

That’s an extremely good point, Tom. With only around 80 friends I’m pretty sure I see everything posted by everyone. But if you have more than a couple of hundred friends you’ll never see a lot of what gets posted.

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Koshy G

The Right To Be Forgotten is a really horrible policy. I can’t believe people aren’t freaking about this.

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Dave P

A lot of people did at the time it came in. I must admit I saw it as mostly positive, but I’m now realizing the full consequences of the ruling. The European Court of Justice may want to reconsider their stance on this. Fat chance, I know, but this could spiral out of control.

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dragonmouth

Beware of the Law of Unintended Consequences!

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dragonmouth

Is Lindsay Lohan hoping for the Streisand Effect to revitalize/restart her career???

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Dave P

Solved!

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