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Monday, Sep. 10, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Blog Buzz for September 10, 2007

By Robert Gorell
September 10th, 2007

Another day, another Google lawsuit… Read/WriteWeb‘s Josh Catone has the scoop:

Google is being sued in an Australian court for “potentially misleading consumers,” reports News.com.au. At issue are the sponsored ad spots Google sells at the top of some search results above the first organic result. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) alleges that Google has encouraged deceptive practices among businesses by selling the advertising in that top position on its search results pages, while telling consumers that its results are organic.Specifically, the ACCC names online car dealership Trading Post, which purchased sponsored ads on Google in 2005 for search results relating to searches for the names of other New South Wales car dealerships. The ACCC argues that by using the name of those dealerships in their ads, the Trading Post links appeared to point to the official dealership web sites or implied an affiliation that did not exist. The ACCC alleges that this is a breach of Australia’s Trade Practices Law.

The judge in the case was not overly impressed with the ACCC’s arguments, calling their case “opaque and repetitious.” He adjourned the proceedings until October 4th pending clarification of the involvement of Google subsidiaries, Google Australia and Google Ireland, which were also named in the suit.

Commenting on this “frivolous lawsuit,” Traffick‘s Andrew Goodman gets philosophical:

The overinflated sense of outrage and weak argumentation reminded me of my penchant for the helpful if opaque works of Jurgen Habermas, particularly his late work Between Facts and Norms. If the ideal for better understanding and progress in any problem-solving exercise is what Habermas might have called a “discursive situation,” Habermas can argue that “communicative power” is merely pushy coercive power based on bluster and sometimes backed by money or illegitimate influence. “Real” power as embodied in the law (as it should be) would emanate from a discursive situation. Winning in a legitimate court case based on a proper weighing of facts and ethics as generally agreed in legal codes would be “legitimate power.”

Luckily, Google wins most of these cases. Apparently, in many jurisdictions, “I was outraged” and blatantly manipulative descriptions of how Google “sells off top spot,” are trumped by the more accurate argument that accurately describes the real workings of Google’s advertising program, and the legitimate right of advertisers to buy space online.

As you may recall, a couple weeks ago, Facebook deleted a 500-member group for Ranger Rick, the National Wildlife Foundation mascot, claiming the fictive raccoon couldn’t represent the group because he was not a real person. (Of course, many Facebook groups don’t have a human figurehead, but no matter.)

Well, today, the social networking site has unintentionally invited a bit more controversy than Ranger Rick could muster. The New York Times has the story of a Facebook brawl in progress (login req):

The latest concern [about Facebook] centers on a group with a crude title denouncing Islam that had more than 750 members at last count. While the group takes pains to say it has nothing against Muslims, who “can be and usually are peaceful and respectful,” it asserts at the start: “The Quran contains many lies and threats. Islam is false, no god exists, and someone should say that loud and clear.”

In the month or so since the group was created, the reaction has been building across Facebook. As of the weekend, more than 58,000 Facebook members had joined a group that said that unless the anti-Islam group was removed, “we r quitting Facebook.”

Facebook declined to comment on Friday on the subject of hate speech or on what steps had been taken.

If you’re really interested, CrunchGear has screenshots regarding the foul-mouthed group in question. Regardless, it seems a bit hypocritical to single out a religion, then attack it in the name of atheism. Isn’t that a bit like screaming at the top of your lungs that you’re a nihilist? Kinda makes you wonder if the guy behind this anti-Islam group ever saw The Big Lebowski, let alone read Nietzsche.

Yikes! If it’s any consolation, one Facebook group that’s going strong is for “Free Hug Day” — which, apparently, is today.

And, finally — on a much lighter note — CrunchGear‘s Seth Porges wonders if Apple’s already sick of the cell phone biz:

I haven’t been privy to the private conversations of Steve Jobs, but listening to his keynote the other day, it’s difficult not to pick up on at least some antipathy the man seems to hold towards the entire mobile phone industry.“Steve Jobs’ entire keynote was a series of middle fingers directed at AT&T and their carrier brethren,” says Sascha Segan, lead cell phone and PDA analyst at PC Magazine. “Notice that he dropped the iPhone’s price without mentioning AT&T; that he’s introducing the iPod Touch into Europe before the iPhone, which will depress iPhone sales there; and that he had a long chat with a Starbucks exec without once mentioning T-Mobile, who operate all of the Starbucks hotspots that he’ll be selling his music through. Never mind that the song he decided to demo on the iPod Touch was Beck’s ‘Cellphone’s Dead.’”

Perhaps he is merely sharing the frustrations of millions of Americans fed up with carrier-locked phones, draconian contracts, poor customer service, and ludicrous fees, but it would appear that, a little more than two months after bringing Apple into the cell phone game, he is already sick of it.

[Catch Blog Buzz weekdays on WebmasterRadio.fm — or subscribe via iTunes. Bryan Eisenberg & Robert Gorell host the podcast, featuring a rundown of the day's top stories from The Grok's Interactive Marketing Buzz.]

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