Google’s EU roadblock
Google has hit major roadblocks in the European Union. E.U. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager issued a “statement of objections” to the giant search engine alleging that it engages in anti-competitive behavior by using its dominance in search to crowd other search tools out of the market.
The primary objection is that Google places its own products, such as Google +, higher in its search lists than competitive products which may actually be superior. “I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of E.U. antitrust rules,” Vestager said. “If the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”
The investigation will also look into Google’s Android phone operating system, and the way it may unfairly bundle its apps and services.
The Mountain View company has defended itself on its official blog by pointing out that competitors such as Expedia, TripAdvisor, Axel Springer, and Yelp have experienced strong growth. These are the same competitors filing complaints against the massive search engine. Google also claims that choice in search is greater than it ever has been, with options to work with other prominent engines like Bing and Yahoo.
“While Google may be the most used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways — and allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark,” the company stated.
HBO’s Game of Thrones leak
The much anticipated opening of Season 5 of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones came this week with a downside, as four episodes of the exclusive series were leaked and downloaded illegally all over the world.
The leak coincides with the release of HBO Now, the company’s standalone online streaming service that for the first time provides consumers with access to exclusive HBO content without needing a cable subscription. The first episode of Game of Thrones was also set to be aired simultaneously across the world, regardless of time zones, to reduce piracy incentive.
“Sadly, it seems the leaked four episodes of the upcoming season of ‘Game of Thrones’ originated from within a group approved by HBO to receive them,” HBO said in a statement. “We’re actively assessing how this breach occurred.”
HBO has sent ‘take-down’ notices to platforms like Periscope, the Twitter owned live-streaming video app that broadcasted leaked episodes. It’s unclear how the leak has affected viewers and the release of HBO Now (though it is currently only available with Apple), but HBO will hope the rest of Season 5 of its hit series will remain what it has been constantly slated to be – exclusive.
Since its acquisition by Facebook three years ago, Instagram has grown to boast 300 million monthly users, up from 30 million, on its platform, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the photo sharing platform has suffered a few privacy hiccups.
On its website, Instagram offers guidelines of appropriate photo posts and has previously requested users to abide by them. Now, with increasing instances of nudity and perceived harassment, the company has updated its website for the first time with a more specific policy regarding such photos.
The company’s community guidelines now state that images of “sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully nude buttocks” are banned, while images of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are permitted, along with nudity portrayed in photos and sculptures.
Instagram has also had problems of imposter profiles of famed celebrities in the past, promising to make the platform more authentic and safe. The photo sharing app is continuing to uphold that value with its latest update in the guidelines.
“We want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression. Help us foster this community,” the company states. “Post only your own photos and videos and always follow the law.”