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theEweekly Wrap – Paid links, Facebook and Apple

Pay war Google got its war paint on this week in response to the news that a major UK newspaper was offering to sell links.

Speaking to a search engine optimisation blog, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, said the search engine took a dim view of sites offering to trade cash for links. He was referring to a leaked memo from the Express Newspaper group, owner of the Daily Express, which offered to provide links for those with a spare £1,000.

“Google’s quality guidelines are clear on this point: paid links shouldn’t pass PageRank,” he stated.

“Whether the paid links are in an ‘advertorial’ or somewhere else on the page, that would violate our quality guidelines and Google would take action on those violations.”

In a related story, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation launched the paywalls behind The Times and its sister paper, The Sunday Times. Articles on the sites are available for free to registered users for a further eight weeks. After this point, members will have to fork over £1 per day to view the articles.

Private parts Facebook announced it would simplify its privacy settings this week in an effort to quell growing criticism over its complicated security features.

A statement by founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the site would begin to roll out new privacy options in the coming weeks. The new feature will allow users to choose between four different security levels.

“People think that we don’t care about privacy, but that’s not true,” he said in a statement.

“There’s a balance. More and more people want to share information, and as long as they have good controls over that, I think that’s where the world is going.”

Despite the announcement, campaign groups were quick to dismiss the new settings. UK group Privacy International said the changes did not go far enough.

“The latest changes merely correct some of the most unacceptable privacy settings on the site. Very little has changed in terms of the overall privacy challenge that Facebook and its users need to navigate,” read the company’s statement.

Gala Apple Apple popped open the champagne corks this week after a spate of good news. On Thursday, mere hours before the launch of its iPad tablet computer in the UK, it was announced that the firm snatched the title of the world’s largest technology company from Microsoft.

The honour, which was calculated off market capitalisation data, came Apple’s way after the organisation recorded an estimated value of £154 billion. Microsoft meanwhile notched up a total of £151 billion.

Speaking about the honour, Apple honcho said the success was down to the firm’s innovative products.

“Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets,” he commented.

One such product, the iPad, went on general sale in the UK this morning. Early reports suggest the new device is, as Jobs predicted, energising thousands to loosen up their purse strings.

Written by Tom Mason

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