Tech Beat by Namecheap – 13 January 2023
In late August and early September, Google rolled out a new algorithm update entitled “Helpful Content Update,” offering an update to English-language results pages. As we discuss in this week’s feature, although some welcomed the update, it has been heavily criticized. Google’s decision to alert SEO influencers of the HCU update before release, and its lack of visible impact, has caused some to speculate that this was intended to strengthen the bond between the tech giant and content creators, rather than improve its technology.
In other news
- ChatGPT to open up Bing search. Microsoft plans to use OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot to vastly improve its search engine and potentially challenge Google, according to ZDNet. ChatGPT is a leading chatbot that has garnered more attention than its competitors with Google and Meta. Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019 and is now hoping to reap the benefits by using the advanced technology to bring innovation to its search engine. Chat GPG-enabled search capabilities could be bolstering Bing beginning in March.
- Adobe will make use of your work — unless you opt out. The Register reports that user content in Adobe Creative Content software will be used for training AI algorithms unless you tell them otherwise. The Krita Foundation, a non-profit organization that builds open-source software for artists, highlighted this issue. Recently, generative art software has come under criticism for sourcing visual art from across the internet and without permission, and while Adobe has not done this so far, it does sell AI-generated stock images. The company says it gives users full control of their privacy preferences and settings, but they need to take action to stop their content from being used.
- WhatsApp tool works against censorship. The online chat giant, WhatsApp, has expanded its methods for getting around government censorship, according to Wired. WhatsApp’s new process could be particularly useful for those populations facing shutdowns and censorship, as has been the case in countries like Russia, Iran, and Myanmar. In fact, 74 countries around the world have suspended internet services more than 900 times since 2016. WhatsApp is fighting censorship by using proxy connections that may be initiated by volunteers and organizations committed to promoting free communication.
- Scientists discover organism that eats viruses. A Covid-eating bacteria would have been extremely useful in 2020. This may not be such a distant possibility, as a report in Euronews reveals that a microbiologist at the University of Nebraska has discovered the ‘virovore,’ an organism that eats viruses. A study published last week shows that Halteria and Paramecium are two plankton organisms that can survive on a diet of only viruses. The viruses contain nutrients that include nitrogen, phosphorus, and nucleic acids. This discovery could change the way we look at viruses and their place in the carbon cycle.
- Lawsuit points to Meta’s involvement in civil war. A lawsuit filed against Meta in Kenya claims that the murder of a Tigrayan university professor in Ethiopia was caused by a series of Facebook posts, according to Wired. The murdered man’s son had contacted Facebook to have posts removed in which people called for his death, but the company only responded eight days after his murder. The man’s son has filed a lawsuit together with an Amnesty International legal advisor that alleges Meta allows unmonitored hate speech, which can lead to violence. Other critics say that Meta has the tools to restrict viral hate, but chooses to prioritize its profits.
Tip of the week: Give Bing a chance
While many agree Google still offers the best organic search results, there are a few good reasons you should give Bing search a try.
Bing offers a unique rewards program that pays you for using the search engine. The rewards points you earn can be traded in for things like Xbox gift cards and donations to your favorite charity. In many ways, Bing’s search results are just as good as Google’s. You’ll find image and video results, localized business results, and never-ending PPC ads, just like on Google. Even if you start on Google, when you don’t find what you need right away, switch over to Bing, and you’ll be served many other results that you won’t find on Google’s top pages.
Bing has an excellent Visual Search tool with infinite scrolling and advanced search filters that are arguably better than Google’s. It provides more video search results than Google, so you can find more of what you’re looking for. Finally, Bing offers more contextual information about topics, celebrities, and news so that you can get more out of your queries. So give Bing a chance, and search the world through a slightly different lens.