Google Busted Spying on Safari Users

Google intentionally sidestepped privacy settings in Apple’s Safari Browser by using a backdoor to insert cookies that would allow Google to track users browsing habits. This was brought to light after the Wall Street Journal exposed the practice in an article that was posted Thursday night. After the posting of the article, Google said that they had immediately stopped usage of the technique.

Safari, which accounts for about 6% of desktop browsing and more than 50% of mobile browsing, is the only major browser to block so-called third-party cookies by default. When you visit a website, all browsers, including Safari, allow that site to put a small tracking file on your computer, which allows the site to identify a unique user, track what they’ve done and remember settings. However, many sites also have Facebook “Like” buttons, ads served by third parties, weather widgets powered by other sites or comment systems run by a third party.

Google said it used the backdoor so that it could place +1 buttons on ads it places around the web via its Adsense program, so that logged-in Google+ users could press the button to share an ad. Without the work-around, the button wouldn’t be able to tell Google which Google account to link the button to.

As for the repercussions this will have on Google, I have a feeling they will be hearing from the FTC quite soon.

Google to Close Down Picnik

Yesterday, Google announced that it would be shutting down the photo editing site Picnik on April 19, 2012, along with a few other services. Google said that the shut down of Picnik is part of their effort to focus their attention on other projects. Picnik, which Google acquired in March of 2010, had seen quite a bit of success in the last year. Many bloggers and social media users were puzzled at Google decision to close Picnik, and were left wondering what service will they use to edit their photos. Picnik has hinted that their image editing features will be implemented into Google+, Google’s newly launched social network. In the time being, all users of Picnik can now access the premium features usually only available to paying subscribers, and all paying subscribers will be refunded. You can read Google’s official announcement at the link below.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/renewing-old-resolutions-for-new-year.html

Google Unveils Google+ Search Integration

Earlier today, Google unveiled a new search feature that integrates results from your circles on Google+, into your normal Google search. The feature is called “Search, Plus Your World”. Google is touting that this feature will give you more personalized search results, directly from the people you know. Here are some screenshots I captured showing the new feature in use.

As you can see, relevant posts show up according to your search query from those whom are in your Google+ Circles. It even lists users on Google+ who are related to what you searched for. And, if you don’t want posts from Google+ appearing in your search results, there is a button at the top right of the page that looks like the silhouette a person. All you have to do is click on that, and it will toggle off all Google+ results.

If you want to learn more about “Google Search, Plus Your World”, you can visit Google’s official page right here – www.google.com/insidesearch/plus.html