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Author Topic: There's something funny going on with Google  (Read 4962 times)
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I've been noticing recently that when I Google something, and then click on the link, my browser does not immediately show the target web site in the "address" bar but some complicated Google address.

So today I thought I would look more closely. I turned the "browser log" on in Firefox, searched for Arduino, and selected the top hit (the Arduino.cc site). Even though the mouse-over window appears to indicate that clicking will take you to arduino.cc, this is what actually happens:

Code:
[14:22:34.708] GET https://www.google.com.au/client_204?&bi... [HTTP/1.1 204 No Content 179ms]
[14:22:35.322] GET https://www.google.com.au/csi?v=3&s=web&... [HTTP/1.1 204 No Content 160ms]
--
[14:22:43.185] GET http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j...  [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 218ms]
[14:22:43.581] GET http://www.arduino.cc/ [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 1297ms]

That's 3 calls to Google sites (presumably HTTP redirects) before the target site is fed to the browser. I've been noticing before that if you want to help someone out (eg. find the Arduino web site) you can no longer Google it, and then just copy the link from the Google page. For example, for Arduino you get this:

Code:
http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=...QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.arduino.cc  ...

(Partly obscured in case it has my personal information there, which wouldn't surprise me).


So now you actually have to follow the link, watch various addresses appear and disappear, and then you can copy the link from the targeted site.



So is Bing any better? Well, marginally:

Code:
[14:24:48.819] GET http://www.bing.com/fd/ls/GLinkPing.aspx? ...[undefined 83ms]
[14:24:48.902] GET http://www.arduino.cc/ [HTTP/1.1 200 OK 1215ms]

That's just one redirect rather than three.



So the moral is, Google (and Bing) know who you are (after all they know your IP address). And they also know, after you did a search, which link(s) - if any - you followed. Just imagine what they could do with that information!
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its been like that for months, but you usually dont see it until you hit a site that is 404ed or bogged down ... I see it all the time and frankly its quite annoying to click a link get a error and look up to see a freaking 1024 bit google hash code in base 64 as an URL
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What really ticks me off about it is that, if you knew that the site was what you wanted from the search, and you just wanted to copy/paste the link (to a discussion or whatnot), you can't - you get the transmogrified version instead when you paste it. I had a feeling they were doing some kind of trackback on it when I saw the crazy link. I don't see why we can't just have the regular link, or an option to turn on regular linking, etc. It's rapidly getting to the point where google is saying silently "to hell with do no evil; let's make money" (thus fulfilling the old adage, of course). Mozilla needs to integrate a peer-to-peer non-centralized search engine (with encryption) into the browser, and just bypass this tracking crap.
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The thing that troubles me about this is that, even if Google are planning to "do no evil" (and making a lot of money isn't necessarily totally consistent with that), once the data is collected (who is searching for what, and how often, and what links they ultimately follow), who can say for sure that one day this won't happen:

  • Google are served with a Court order to hand over all their records (eg. "to catch terrorists")
  • The files are just leaked - remember WikiLeaks? Any security system will eventually be broken.
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In firefox, select the green color address and right click open in new window. Yep,extra step for you! I noticed this redirect thing for at least a year. Even if you hover your mouse over the link, and you see arduino.cc displayed at the bottom of firefox, you right click or do anything to it and immediately realize the display turns into the google address.

Before I right click the link see bottom display "arduino.cc"

After I right click the link see bottom display "google.com/stealing_yall_infoXXX"



* before.png (16.92 KB, 500x168 - viewed 27 times.)

* after.png (14.12 KB, 500x168 - viewed 27 times.)
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@Nick:

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even if Google are planning to "do no evil"

Google is a marketing company. If marketing is "not evil" is already subject to discussion. Marketing is usually pro "whoever pays for it".

They collect data and care absolutely nothing about privacy. They can and will scan everything they get hold of. Facebook is even worse though.

Keep in mind that many of these companies offer services for web masters that will notify them when you hit the pages. So even without the redirect they may gather the information.

Similar things apply to almost all of the "social networks" and other free services. I think most people are not aware that there are companies who are systematically monitoring and evaluating this data even in real time. The results may then be ranked according to sentiment (!!!), social rank (number of followers, number of friends, number of replies, whatever comes to mind) and put automatically into CRM queues.

There is nothing inherently bad about it. The nasty thing is that this happens behind people's backs.

I think it all boils down to what Noam Chomsky described quite a while ago: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710--.htm. Just that the "social" technology pushed the whole thing one level higher.
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I read half of Noam's article. It's right about what's going on, with a static look. The author didn't mention the possibility of fluctuations around this equilibrium, which all systems have. Just look how the USSR fell in pieces with the work of one such well-institutionalized individual. The larger the system is, the more the absolute fluctuation there will be. This applies especially well to those who were institutionalized in one place and then removed and inserted into another institution. They see all the cracks in the fake wall and what lies they were told because different institutions teach you different thoughts and not all of them are consistent.
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The thing that troubles me about this is that, even if Google are planning to "do no evil" (and making a lot of money isn't necessarily totally consistent with that), once the data is collected (who is searching for what, and how often, and what links they ultimately follow), who can say for sure that one day this won't happen:

  • Google are served with a Court order to hand over all their records (eg. "to catch terrorists")
  • The files are just leaked - remember WikiLeaks? Any security system will eventually be broken.

Since when is responding to a court order or being robbed considered evil acts?
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Let's put it this way ... say a court ordered that the police were to search every house in the land for evidence of some crime. Surely there would be huge outcry? Innocent until proven guilty! people would cry. Or, no search without probable cause. And, who knows? There might be resistance at the door. But to hand over a tape with everyone's search history on it?

And as for "being robbed" - I presume you mean, if they happen to have all this data, and it happens to be stolen, that's not their fault? I would suggest that it could be. I just read today about thousands of credit card numbers being stolen (yet again). I think we can presume that once large centralized caches of data exist, they will eventually be stolen. Given that, the mere keeping of such caches could be regarded as the real "crime" - since we presume it will eventually fall into the wrong hands.

I don't have a problem with Google keeping track of what pages link to other pages (via their crawling spider bots). After all, that's what basically makes it work. And to an extent, using your IP address to narrow down searches is probably OK too, since if I search for a plumber I probably want one here, and not in London.

But once they start to remember what I searched for, and trying to build up a commercial profile of me, with a view to selling that to advertisers, then I think it steps over the line. Put it like this: today they sell to advertisers, tomorrow: political parties.
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right now I would not worry about it too much, their profiling is so horridly wrong its embarrassing, I search for motherboards I get ad's for toasters, I delete some spam and I get ad's for mail order Russian brides, I search for some religious information, I get ad's for penticostal material and Scientology though religiously I consider myself pretty conservative (raised bouncing between Lutheran, Catholic and Presbyterian)

It seems to be a average of crap and a dumb guess based on stuff they happen to see you do, and with wandering minds its damn near useless, though I do get ad's from computer retailers like a day or two after seeing the specials the ad's are boasting about which is really pointless.

everything they collect seems to be wrong, and frankly its an artificial bubble, putting great worth on snake oil and I can not wait for it to burst ... it wont be too much longer IMO (ie decade). They have no real clue, their data is flawed, the only people really dumb enough to fall for it all are the ones writing the checks, and they will be hurt. Unlike the housing and auto industries*, Google is not too big to fail and your usuall standby's that have been around before google will be there in the long run.

*BS: It would hurt bigtime, but clearing out dead wood is a good thing in the long term (and I personally would not wipe my ass on a GM product, though I just designed their 2014 corvette maplight PCB ... sigh)
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 01:48:43 am by Osgeld » Logged


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Well that's reassuring. smiley

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor

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Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
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dequately explained by incompetence

to go on the GM thing a bit, originally they sent us a schematic that never even came close to working, its a dead simple thing to do too. you have a source voltage (4.7 just out of cheapness) a flip-flop, a button, and a high powered LED

the design they sent us would ring on the button debounce so damn bad it would fail 98% of the time. They never even bothered to simulate it, some guy just farted it out and sent it down the chain, never-mind this RC was running at 1ns.

long story short, though I have not been working at this place long, I found out it took nearly 2 years to even get the "privilege", and its taken another 2 months just to get a written intent to buy, which we have not got, just to ensure we just didnt spend a lot of time and money being their R&D bitches for them to send it to Mexico or china without even a thank you. We dont have as nearly much trouble with Ford or Chrysler, and they already know what they want before even opening talks
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I don't have a problem with Google keeping track of what pages link to other pages (via their crawling spider bots). After all, that's what basically makes it work. And to an extent, using your IP address to narrow down searches is probably OK too, since if I search for a plumber I probably want one here, and not in London.

If you think that Google is basically a search engine then you believe what Google wants you to believe. If Google would be only a search engine, then it would not be such a large and profitable company.

Quote
But once they start to remember what I searched for, and trying to build up a commercial profile of me, with a view to selling that to advertisers, then I think it steps over the line. Put it like this: today they sell to advertisers, tomorrow: political parties.

Now here we come to the core of the issue. Who do you think is paying Google for what? The point is that Google is a very successful marketing and marketing analytics company. The point is not that specifically your data matters. However since they collect whatever they can get they also collect data of really important people like politicians, top notch leaders as well as lesser influencers. This is where it gets really interesting.

With regard to your data it all boils down to: If a service is free you are the product.
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With regard to your data it all boils down to: If a service is free you are the product.

I understand that bit. For example, with free-to-air television I am not the customer, the advertisers are.

I'm not sure I know of a search engine that is reasonably good, that you pay for, that doesn't collect personal information.
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I'm not sure I know of a search engine that is reasonably good, that you pay for, that doesn't collect personal information.

Very true. This makes the situation even worse. My recommendation: help Wikipedia. If you just Google you will by default get into the hands of advertisers which are working to the best interest of whoever pays them. If you want to, you can pay wikipedia.
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