H1 2012 Quick Links, Part 4 (Search Engines, eBay, Social Networking Sites)

By Eric Goldman

[Note: if you click on any of the Scribd links below and get a warning that you’re accessing adult content, ignore that. In only the latest of Scribd’s f-ups, it has deployed a massively overinclusive adult content classifier that thinks dry legal briefs in business-to-business disputes are adult content. I agree that they aren’t material that kids would find interesting, but the big scary warning for (as just one example) an antitrust brief from the Ohio AG is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve asked Scribd to manually reclassify the documents as kid-safe, but not surprisingly given Scribd’s track record, customer support isn’t exactly their strong suit. The good news is that I largely moved away from using Scribd a few months ago, but I do have some backlogged legacy links I’m posting through these quick links.]

Search Engines

* Why I left Google: “The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus….It turns out that there was one place where the Google innovation machine faltered and that one place mattered a lot: competing with Facebook.”

* Gizmodo: The Case Against Google.

* From a complaint: “GOOGLE, as the self-appointed curator of all the World’s knowledge, has usurped the 5th Estate.”

* Search Engine Land: Rhode Island is getting a disproportionate share of Google’s penalty in the illegal pharmaceuticals ads case. Partially related: WSJ: Did the DOJ apologize to Google for post-settlement statements about the illegal pharma ad situation?

* Facebook is cooking up a new search initiative.

* Perfect 10 v. Yandex NV, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80661 (N.D. Cal. June 11, 2012). Perfect 10 gets jurisdictional discovery to see if it can establish personal jurisdiction over Yandex.

* Stebbins v. U.S., 2012 WL 1664155 (Fed. Cl. Ct. May 14, 2012). David Stebbins loses again, this time in his suit against the United States for not honoring his purported arbitration award against Google/Yahoo. Prior blog post.

* Getachew v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 2012 WL 872745 (D. Colo. March 14, 2012) and Getachew v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 2012 WL 872755 (D. Colo. January 30, 2012). One of those employment disputes where Google gets dragged in. Fortunately, Google was dismissed for failure of service of process.

* Trkulja v Yahoo, [2012] VSC 88 (Victoria Sup. Ct. March 15, 2012). Yahoo hit with a $225k (AU) damage award for publishing defamatory search results. Some background. The same outcome wouldn’t happen in the US due to 47 USC 230. See, e.g., Parker v. Google, Maughan v Google, and Murawski v Pataki.

* Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wins appeal against Google.

* WSJ: Facebook, Google to Stand Trial in India. The court order.

* Matt Cutts made a video about search quality raters. Prior blog post.

* SF Gate: Google’s search anthropologist.

* Google commissioned papers by Eugene Volokh (search results are protected by the First Amendment) and Marvin Ammori (on remedies for search bias). My latest article on this topic.

* Filings in the myTriggers appeal:

Amended Brief of Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff-Appellant My Triggers

Reply Brief of Defendent and Counterclaim Plaintiff-Appellant My Triggers

Brief of Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant-Appellee Google

Amicus Brief of Ohio AG Supporting Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff-Appellant My Triggers

Prior blog post.


* Block v. eBay, Inc., 2012 WL 1601471 (N.D. Cal. May 7, 2012). eBay’s proxy bidding does not violate the eBay user agreement’s declarations that eBay isn’t involved in the transaction and isn’t the bidder’s agent. This has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

* Smith v. eBay Corp., 2012 WL 1951971 (N.D. Cal. May 29, 2012). Antitrust lawsuit against eBay for linking eBay and Paypal survives motion to strike.

* Custom LED, LLC v. eBay, Inc., 2012 WL 1909333 (N.D. Cal. May 24, 2012). Lawsuit over eBay’s featured item program survives motion to dismiss.

* Faboozi v. Stubhub, Inc. (ND Cal. Feb. 15, 2012). StubHub wins a case over various challenges to its ticket sales.

Social Networking Sites

* AdAge: How Content Is Really Shared: Close Friends, Not ‘Influencers’:

Our data show that online sharing, even at viral scale, takes place through many small groups, not via the single status post or tweet of a few influencers. While influential people may be able to reach a wide audience, their impact is short-lived. Content goes viral when it spreads beyond a particular sphere of influence and spreads across the social web via ordinarily people sharing with their friends.

At BuzzFeed, we looked at the 50 stories that had received the most Facebook traffic since mid-2007. A handful of these posts had millions of Facebook referrers, and even the smallest had nearly 100,000 Facebook views. But the median ratio of Facebook views to shares was merely 9-to-1.

This means that for every Facebook share, only nine people visited the story. Even the largest stories on Facebook are the product of lots of intimate sharing — not one person sharing and hundreds of thousands of people clicking.

The median for Twitter was even lower, at 5-to-1. Reddit, which has traffic concentrated on its popular front page, had a median of only 36.

* Just how big of a threat is Pinterest to Twitter and Facebook? Big! AdWeek, MediaPost and Fortune.

* State v. Hall, 2012 WL 988606 (Ariz. App. Ct. March 22, 2012). A probationer is restricted from using “electronic bulletin board systems.” He accesses Facebook and MySpace. The court holds that social networking sites are “electronic bulletin board systems” such that the probationer violated the terms of his probation. The consequence: he goes back to jail for 10 YEARS. Kashmir Hill’s coverage.

* Cohen v. NJ Parole Bd., 2012 WL 1601159 (D.N.J. May 7, 2012). Regarding restrictions imposed on a sexual offender probationer: “the restriction of access to social networking services on the Internet is limited in scope and appears to be geared to the nature of defendant’s sex offender conviction. Thus, it does not appear to be unconstitutionally broad or vague, nor is it violative of plaintiff’s First Amendment rights. A complete or total ban on any Internet access has not been imposed.”

* Maryland bans employers asking for Facebook passwords. SB433 and HB964.

* Wired took a deep look at Klout. I’m completely unimpressed with Klout. It seems to reward quantity equally with quality, and it is too dependent on recency.