Google Thinks I’m Dead (I know otherwise.)

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For much of the last week, I have been trying to persuade the world’s most powerful search engine to remove my photo from biographical details that belong to someone else. A search for “Rachel Abrams” revealed that Google had mashed my picture from The New York Times’s website with the Wikipedia entry for a better-known writer with the same name, who died in 2013.

My father pointed this out in a quizzical text message, but the error seemed like an inconsequential annoyance best ignored indefinitely. To anyone who knows me, it is clearly not me — I am not married, my mother’s name is not Midge, and I was not born in 1951.

But when an acquaintance said she was alarmed to read that I had passed away, it seemed like an error worth correcting.

And so began the quest to convince someone at Google that I am alive.

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Almost all internet searches in Africa bring up only results from the US and France

A man is photographed on a square decorated with a giant world map, with marks showing former Portuguese colonies, in Lisbon March 6, 2012. Portugal flourished as a global power with explorers like Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral building an empire which lasted for 600 years. Now a new wave of adventurers is once again seeking work, and hopefully fortune, elsewhere. Emigrating is fast becoming a preferred option for many seeking a decent living as their bailed-out economy suffers under debt, low growth and poor competitiveness. Portugal's booming ex-colonies in Africa and Brazil are a natural choice. Picture taken March 6, 2012. To match Feature PORTUGAL/EMIGRATION

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Only eight countries in Africa have a majority of content that is locally produced. Most content comes from the United States and to a lesser extent, France, according to a new study published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers. In Africa, only South Africa and Madagascar ranked high in terms of local content. Even capitals or large cities like Lagos see little local content in Google search results.

“This gives rise to a form of digital hegemony, whereby producers in a few countries get to define what is read by others,” researchers Andrea Ballatore, Mark Graham, and Shilad Sen concluded. They analyzed more than 33,000 Google search results for 188 capital cities and found that the US accounted for over half of the first page of results for 61 countries.

Early advocates of the internet’s democratizing power believed it would give people more of a voice about their own communities and countries. Instead, it appears to be reinforcing digital divides between wealthier and better connected countries and poorer, less developed countries.

Google’s New Parental Control App Has a Flaw: Puberty

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But if you sign up for Family Link, which is Google’s new parental controls software for managing children’s Android phones, Google decides for you. At the age of 13, a child can choose to “graduate,” as Google calls it, or lift restrictions, getting the keys to the internet kingdom and all the good and bad things that come with it.

That’s too bad, because at first glance, Family Link has all the hallmarks of a winner. It is free, well designed and packed with thoughtful features for regulating a child’s smartphone use, like the ability to monitor how often a game is played or even to lock down a device during bedtime.

Yet nearly all of those benefits are undermined by Google’s decision to let children remove the restrictions the instant they become teenagers.

The Fidget Spinner Is Google’s Latest Easter Egg Distraction

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I wasn’t above squeezing an occasional round of Doom in between study sessions in college, and am certainly not shy about catching some Pokémon if any are lurking in my office (that’s a no).

But if I have a particularly busy workday and want to kill 30 seconds before entering a meeting, or want to keep my attention focused during a meeting, Google’s got my back with some sweet search engine Easter eggs. They just added a new one. It rhymes with “digit sinner.”

 

Teenagers think Google is cool, study by Google finds

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Today’s teenagers think Google and Google brands are cool, research funded by Google has found.

Google published “It’s Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool”, a “magazine” compiling the results of its research into Generation Z, characterised as those aged from 13 to 17.

The Google-funded research found Generation Z relied on brands to “shape their world”, and that Google was the third-most cool. Cool was defined by the researchers as “unique, impressive, interesting, amazing, or awesome”.

YouTube, which Google owns, came out at number one ahead of Netflix. Google’s web browser Chrome placed tenth, in front of Nike.

The Real Me

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The internet is an unrelenting enabler of our flaws and an unforgiving archive of them—so should you google your new love interest, or hold off? And what if they google you first?

…Unwelcome Search Result No. 1: My Evil Twins. I, like many people, have my share of Google doppelgängers, some of whom have decidedly odd hobbies or are otherwise, shall we say, the date-scaring types. Decades older. Civil War-obsessed. Freemasons.

Unwelcome Search Result No. 2: The Old Me. The me I wished to forget. The me that still lingered in the internet’s scrapbook of Doug’s Greatest Hits of Awkwardness. School photos from the days of Zubaz and a white-boy ‘fro. Sporting achievements that betrayed my utter lack of athleticism, like my glacier-paced 10K time and my even less impressive showing as a “mathlete.” Or, God help me, poetry.

Worst Search Result of Them All: The Real Me. As a struggling travel writer, I had a website full of struggling-travel-writer things: a where-I’ve-been list of decidedly non-exotic places; a blog I updated with the same sporadic, haphazard approach I applied to getting my car’s oil changed; a smattering of articles I’d written for unrecognizably obscure publications. An accurate representation of me, yes—but that was the problem.

Google Charmed By Grandma’s Polite Searches

screengrab of google search

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“I asked my nan why she used ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and it seemed she thinks that there is someone — a physical person — at Google’s headquarters who looks after the searches,” he told the BBC.

“She thought that by being polite and using her manners, the search would be quicker.”

…”I thought, well somebody’s put it in, so you’re thanking them,” she told the radio network.

“I don’t know how it works to be honest. It’s all a mystery to me.”