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Newsfeeds from around the industry
The Official Google Blog
Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture.

  • Through the Google lens: Search trends May 15-21
    Between finding out what everyone has always wanted to say to Dave Letterman, and singing along to Taylor’s “Bad Blood,” here’s a look at what everyone was searching for this week:

    Deadly biker brawl
    A shooting between rival motorcycle gangs in Waco, Texas, left nine dead and more than 170 people in jail this week. There were more than 500,000 searches for “Waco shooting” on Sunday as people asked questions like “What biker gangs are in Texas?” and “What county is Waco, Texas in?” to try to understand why the shooting may have happened.

    An NBA family affair
    The NBA playoffs continue to be a top topic in search as the conference finals began this week, with the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets matchup garnering the most attention. (The Cavaliers made the trends charts on Wednesday, but otherwise all eyes are on the West.) After going down 2-0 to the Warriors, the Rockets are in the spotlight, with 200,000+ searches following their game 1 loss. But the search standout, not surprisingly, is NBA MVP and Warriors point guard Stephen Curry. And not just for his sweet three-point stroke. There were 50,000+ searches for his mom, Sonya Curry, after she appeared looking ageless at Tuesday’s game, while others were interested in his daughter Riley’s post-game press conference hijinks. In fact, three out of the top five Curry-related searches on Wednesday were about his family.

    Thanks, Dave
    David Letterman ended his 33-year career in late-night TV on Wednesday night. His farewell show featured favorite clips from the past, some classic Dave self-deprecation and a Top 10 list to top all Top 10 lists starring celebs like Steve Martin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and (Dave’s apparent favorite) Peyton Manning. Dave was at the top of the search list, too, with more than 500,000+ searches—consider it a small consolation for not getting “The Tonight Show.” Top questions leading up to the last show included “How tall is David Letterman?” and “Who is taking over for Letterman?” (Answer: someone else who brought a crew of celebs to his final show last December.)

    Billboard stars
    The Billboard Music Awards swept the search charts on Sunday, with big-time winner Taylor Swift at the top of the pack. Swift had a big night, taking home eight trophies and a million searches. She also debuted her much-buzzed-about music video for “Bad Blood,” which featured Kendrick Lamar and a full squad of Taylor’s celebrity friends, including Cindy Crawford, Lena Dunham and Karlie Kloss. The video broke the Vevo record with more than 20 million views in 24 hours, and appeared in Hot Trends twice. But even Taylor has to share the spotlight sometime: people were also searching for show performers Iggy Azalea, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson and Wiz Khalifa.
    Elsewhere in Billboard news, the soundtrack for “Pitch Perfect 2” climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week as fans became hooked on the fun cover songs and mashups. The movie has been big in search over the past week, with lots of interest in the cast, particularly Rebel Wilson.

    Tip of the week
    Now you can find real-time content from Twitter in your Google search results on mobile. So if you want to see what others are saying about tonight’s Cavaliers/Hawks game, just ask Google.

    Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched this week for [leighton meester] and [how many cows are there in the world]

  • Tweets take flight in the Google app
    Starting today, we’re bringing Tweets to Google Search on mobile devices. So now when you’re searching on the Google app or any browser on your phone or tablet, you can find real-time content from Twitter right in the search results.

    Whether you’re interested in the latest from Taylor Swift, news about the #MadMenFinale, or updates on the NBA playoffs, you’ll have access to it directly from Google. Let’s use NASA as an example—just ask the Google app about “NASA Twitter,” and in the search results, you’ll see Tweets from @NASA:

    Or if you heard today was Malcolm X’s birthday, you can ask the Google app and see what various people and organizations in the Twitter community are saying about it.

    It’s a great way to get real-time info when something is happening. And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments.

    To start, we’re launching this on Google.com in English in the Google app (on Android and iOS) and on mobile browsers, rolling out gradually. We’re working on bringing it to more languages and to desktop, so stay tuned.

    Posted by Ardan Arac, Senior Product Manager

  • Through the Google lens: Search trends May 8-14
    This week people said goodbye to a blues legend, and hello to a (possible) new face of American money. Read on for more on this week in search:

    Amtrak’s tragic accident
    First up, we saw a rise in searches for Amtrak after a train that was traveling at more than 100 miles an hour derailed Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The accident killed eight people and injured more than 200, and led people to the web to ask questions about the derailment and about train safety in general. There were more than 500,000 searches for Amtrak on Tuesday, and top questions included “How fast do Amtrak trains go?” and “When will Amtrak resume service?”

    Madness down under
    “Mad Max: Fury Road” comes out in theaters today, and anticipation for the fourth film in the classic series is running high. The movie, a dystopian thriller set in Australia starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, appeared on the Hot Trends list twice this week, with more than 500,000 searches yesterday.

    While a battle for survival in the Outback takes place on screen, a real-life high-stakes story was playing out this week in Australia. The government told the actor Johnny Depp that he had to remove his two Yorkie dogs from the country by Saturday or they would be euthanized. Australia has strict laws about bringing animals into the country, and Boo and Pistol hadn’t followed proper procedure. There were more than 50,000 searches in the U.S. for the actor as people followed the doggie drama. But that’s nothing compared to searches in Australia:
    Sing the blues
    Today, people are saying goodbye to B.B. King, who died yesterday at the age of 89. The blues guitarist (the name “B.B.” comes from “Blues Boy”) was a legend in music circles, and influenced stars like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. More than half a million searches and an outpouring of memories followed the news of his death.

    “American Idol” fans are saying farewell to the popular Fox show. “Idol” crowned its 14th winner this week, Connecticut-based Nick Fradiani, and announced that next season will be its last. There were more than 200K searches for the show the day of the finale and announcement. And elsewhere in long-running Fox TV series news, “The Simpsons” voice actor Harry Shearer (the voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and many other beloved yellow characters), won’t be back for the show’s 27th season. Show co-creator James L. Brooks isn’t giving up hope, though, and neither, it seems, are searchers, who sent Shearer into the top charts yesterday.

    Ladies in green
    Searches spiked for Harriet Tubman this week after the abolitionist and Underground Railroad hero won an online poll about who should be the new face of the $20 bill. More than 600K people voted in the Women on 20s campaign, in the end choosing Tubman over Eleanor Roosevelt by a slim margin. The petition would need to be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury.

    Regardless of whose face is on the front, you’d need 8 million 20s to buy “Women in Algiers,” the Picasso painting that broke records this week at Christie’s in New York when it sold for $160 million. The anonymous buyer made the cubist painting the most expensive to ever sell at auction, and now it’s the top Picasso painting in search to boot.
    Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who searched this week for [the craft] and [when did the twilight zone start]

  • Green lights for our self-driving vehicle prototypes
    When we started designing the world’s first fully self-driving vehicle, our goal was a vehicle that could shoulder the entire burden of driving. Vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button could transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error (PDF), reclaiming the billions of hours wasted in traffic, or bringing everyday destinations and new opportunities within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car.

    Now we’re announcing the next step for our project: this summer, a few of the prototype vehicles we’ve created will leave the test track and hit the familiar roads of Mountain View, Calif., with our safety drivers aboard.
    Our safety drivers will test fully self-driving vehicle prototypes like this one on the streets of Mountain View, Calif., this summer.

    We’ve been running the vehicles through rigorous testing at our test facilities, and ensuring our software and sensors work as they’re supposed to on this new vehicle. The new prototypes will drive with the same software that our existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses. That fleet has logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since we started the project, and recently has been self-driving about 10,000 miles a week. So the new prototypes already have lots of experience to draw on—in fact, it’s the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience.

    Each prototype’s speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and during this next phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. We’re looking forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with the vehicles, and to uncovering challenges that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle—e.g., where it should stop if it can’t stop at its exact destination due to construction or congestion. In the coming years, we’d like to run small pilot programs with our prototypes to learn what people would like to do with vehicles like this. If you’d like to follow updates about the project and share your thoughts, please join us on our Google+ page. See you on the road!

    Posted by Chris Urmson, Director, Google Self-Driving Car Project


  • New data, more facts: an update to the Transparency Report
    We first launched the Transparency Report in 2010 to help the public learn about the scope of government requests for user data. With recent revelations about government surveillance, calls for companies to make encryption keys available to police, and a wide range of proposals, both in and out of the U.S., to expand surveillance powers throughout the world, the issues today are more complicated than ever. Some issues, like ECPA reform, are less complex, and we’re encouraged by the broad support in Congress for legislation that would codify a standard requiring warrants for communications content.

    Google’s position remains consistent: We respect the important role of the government in investigating and combating security threats, and we comply with valid legal process. At the same time, we’ll fight on behalf of our users against unlawful requests for data or mass surveillance. We also work to make sure surveillance laws are transparent, principled, and reasonable.

    Today’s Transparency Report update
    With this in mind, we’re adding some new details to our Transparency Report that we’re releasing today.

    • Emergency disclosure requests. We’ve expanded our reporting on requests for information we receive in emergency situations. These emergency disclosure requests come from government agencies seeking information to save the life of a person who is in peril (like a kidnapping victim), or to prevent serious physical injury (like a threatened school shooting). We have a process for evaluating and fast-tracking these requests, and in true emergencies we can provide the necessary data without delay. The Transparency Report previously included this number for the United States, but we’re now reporting for every country that submits this sort of request.
    • Preservation requests. We’re also now reporting on government requests asking us to set aside information relating to a particular user’s account. These requests can be made so that information needed in an investigation is not lost while the government goes through the steps to get the formal legal process asking us to disclose the information. We call these "preservation requests" and because they don't always lead to formal data requests, we keep them separate from the country totals we report. Beginning with this reporting period, we’re reporting this number for every country.

    In addition to this new data, the report shows that we’ve received 30,138 requests from around the world seeking information about more than 50,585 users/accounts; we provided information in response to 63 percent of those requests. We saw slight increases in the number of requests from governments in Europe (2 percent) and Asia/Pacific (7 percent), and a 22 percent increase in requests from governments in Latin America.

    The fight for increased transparency
    Sometimes, laws and gag-orders prohibit us from notifying someone that a request for their data has been made. There are some situations where these restrictions make sense, and others not so much. We will fight—sometimes through lengthy court action—for our users’ right to know when data requests have been made. We’ve recently succeeded in a couple of important cases.

    First, after years of persistent litigation in which we fought for the right to inform Wikileaks of government requests for their data, we were successful in unsealing court documents relating to these requests. We’re now making those documents available to the public here and here.

    Second, we've fought to be more transparent regarding the U.S. government's use of National Security Letters, or NSLs. An NSL is a special type of subpoena for user information that the FBI issues without prior judicial oversight. NSLs can include provisions prohibiting the recipient from disclosing any information about it. Reporters speculated in 2013 that we challenged the constitutionality of NSLs; after years of litigation with the government in several courts across multiple jurisdictions, we can now confirm that we challenged 19 NSLs and fought for our right to disclose this to the public. We also recently won the right to release additional information about those challenges and the documents should be available on the public court dockets soon.

    Finally, just yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 338-88 to pass the USA Freedom Act of 2015. This represents a significant step toward broader surveillance reform, while preserving important national security authorities. Read more on our U.S. Public Policy blog.

    Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security

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