Google, everybody’s favourite tax-shy, Solomon-rich, data-harvesting, life-directing tech behemoth, has broken a new record – but not one it’s too pleased about.
The EU has fined the alarmingly ubiquitous search giant a record-breaking £4.9 billion for dodginess around its use of the Android operating system – chiefly, that it used Android to ‘cement its dominant position’ in the world of internet searching.
Now, though it sounds like a lot of money, Google has $103bn in cash reserves, so the pesky EU’s penalty shouldn’t upset things too much. However, unsurprisingly, the firm plans to appeal.
Google’s main EU nemesis, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager – who has already handed the firm a £2.1bn fine over its shopping comparison service (currently under appeal) and has a third investigation into Google’s AdSense business underway – said that the decision ‘will change the market place’.
Basically, Google is accused of insisting that Android device manufacturers pre-installed the Google Search app and Google’s own browser, Chrome – or else they wouldn’t have access to its Play app store.
Furthermore, CC Vestager alleges that the firm paid manufacturers and mobile network companies to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices.
Google, understandably, is terribly unhappy about all of this, and so is someone else – America’s interesting leader, President Trump.
Fresh from a mind-boggling meeting with Russia’s equally thought-provoking boss, President Putin, Mr Trump furiously tweeted: ‘I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google. They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!’
Days ago, and in an interesting change of direction after 70 years of pretty solid policy, Mr Trump stated that, after all, the EU is one of the US’s greatest foes – putting that ‘but not for long’ remark in a more sinister context. Are we actually going to be nuked by…the Americans? And not by accident?!
Anyway, enough about Trump and Russia. Let’s move on…
…to Trump and Russia. The US Department of Justice has charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking the 2016 American elections.
The digital dozen are accused of using phishing emails to hack officials from the US Democratic party, and also pinching the data of half a million innocent voters.
US authority types along with millions of proud Americans are incensed that a foreign power would even dream of interfering with its democratic processes – something that America itself would never do, unless you want to count the many, many times the country has directly interfered in the democratic processes of sovereign states. But it seems cheap and accurate to point this out.
And so it goes on. Let’s see if there’s anything a little more cheery going on…
…and, oh dear: fake news and Holocaust denial.
Image-tattered Facebook has announced that it will not remove fake news from its network, because the stuff doesn’t actually contravene its ‘community standards’. Ha! ‘Community standards’ indeed.
Anyway, though the social media firm has made a real effort to let users know that it doesn’t approve of fake news, it also believes that people have ‘very different points of view’ and, thus, purging fluid mendacity would be ‘contrary to the basic principles of free speech’.
Instead, fake news will be ‘demoted’ in Facebook’s news feed.
Attempting to delineate and cement this position, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg joined in with a retrospectively regrettable example.
Speaking to a tech website (not this one, obviously) Zuckerberg said: ‘I’m Jewish and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find it deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.’
Holocaust deniers aren’t ‘intentionally getting it wrong’ eh? I think a lot, if not all of them are, aren’t they? I mean, come on.
What an amazing mess. I wonder what’s been going on over at Twitter this week? I daren’t look.