theEweekly Wrap: Counselling, Cookies and Canines
|Google breaks new toy||Google purchased comparison site BeatThatQuote.com on Monday for a reported £37.7 million. The site, set up in 2005, compares financial services such as insurance, mortgages and credit cards. 90 per cent of the company was owned by London businessman John Paleomylites, who will pocket most of the cash. However, according to the Guardian the site made a £2 million loss in the year ending January 2010; the Google acquisition is understood to be a genuine attempt at providing a comprehensive price comparison site.
Unfortunately, things got off to a bad start. Search Engine Land reported that within a day of buying the site, Google had penalised BeatThatQuote in its rankings, so that it doesn’t even appear on the first page of search engine results. The site does however still exist, and is indexed, but may be being punished for what Search Engine Land called “aggressive SEO tactics”.
|Status saviours||From this Monday, the Facebook help centre will include a form where users can report their friends’ worrying behaviour. The Facebook charity initiative sees the social network team up with Samaritans, the UK organisation that provides counselling to those in distress or contemplating suicide. As well as an awareness campaign on the Samaritans Facebook page, the report form has been launched in case users are concerned by a friend’s status updates or other online behaviour.
Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone told the Guardian: “Through the popularity of Facebook, we are harnessing the power of friendship so people can get help”. According to The Next Web, emergency links with the equivalent charities in the US and Norway are already in place, with Facebook working to add support in more countries.
|Cookie consent||Web businesses will soon be legally obliged to inform users that they are being tracked with browser cookies. The e-Privacy directive, which affects all of the EU, states that users must give their “explicit consent” before their data can be tracked; saying no might affect personalised PPC ads and information stored on sites.
The directive is set to be enforced from 25 May 2011; however, many have voiced concerns that the EU is drastically unprepared. Alex Hanff of Privacy International told the BBC “the industry and governments are simply not ready for it”. Meanwhile, Nick Stringer of the Internet Advertising Bureau described the law as “potentially detrimental to consumers, business and the UK digital economy“. However, Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey speculated that there would be no strict enforcement in the short-term.
|Petbook||Dogs in the US can now join their own social network. Pawsley allows dogs – or rather, their owners – to share photos, videos and status updates, as well as connect with friends or meet new people. However, TechCrunch insists that this site is different to the countless other doggy blogging sites, such as Dogster and Dogbook. One reason is the Groupon-style daily group-buying deal, tailored of course towards pet owners; in addition, four per cent of proceeds is being donated to dog charities.
One potential new member of Pawsley could be Beast, Mark Zuckerberg’s new dog. The Facebook founder and his girlfriend wasted no time in creating a Facebook profile for his pet, which promptly racked up over 40,000 fans.