iFive: Google Tweak Hits Mahalo, Malware Android Apps, Yahoo Leaving Japan, Amazon Threatens Cal., Twitter Axes Apple Parody

Tuesday, March 2, 2011: Time for Apple to reveal the iPad 2. But there’s also plenty of other news, so let us help you tackle the early stuff, with iFive.

On this day 42 years ago Concorde took its first flight in Toulouse, France. Back in 1923 Time magazine debuted, and in 1807 Congress outlawed the importing of slaves–each of these facts, and a trillion others, contributed to today’s world. So what’s today’s early news? 


1. Google adjusted its search algorithm last week to suppress content mills and promote quality web writing–and now, in direct response, Mahalo (which has reinvented itself as a “human powered search engine” but is essentially a content factory) has reduced its staff by 10% because of a “significant dip in … traffic and revenue.” CEO Jason Calacanis sees the move as defining web 3.0 as an era of online experts, not journalists.

2. Google, meanwhile, has just pulled 21 popular apps from the Android Marketplace because instead of delivering entertainment, the code behind each is actually malware–either aimed at gaining root control of an owner’s phone, or garnering a large amount of personal data. At least 50,000 people had downloaded the code from Google’s open app market, possibly because they masqueraded as genuine apps.

3. Yahoo may be trying to extricate itself from its Yahoo Japan joint venture with Softbank in attempt to mobilize $8 billion in funds. Inside data says Yahoo may sell its 35% stake to add to Softbank’s existing 42% stake within a few weeks. The target for this cash? China, where Yahoo already has a big stake in popular sales site Alibaba, and also to challenge Google, Facebook and AOL elsewhere in the world.

4. Amazon is flexing its (considerable) economic muscles, and is threatening to end its advertising relationship with over 10,000 Californian affiliates if the state legislates to force online retailers to collect sales taxes from state residents. Amazon argues it has no on-ground presence in California, which would render the Californian laws unconstitutional and a 1992 Supreme Court ruling supports it. But the 10,000 affiliates are in California, and this is giving Amazon it’s leverage. 

5. It may be Apple day, but Twitter’s just suspended the account of parody commenter @CEOSteveJobs–a light-hearted string of pithy, amusing, and apparently brand-/character-smearing comments about Apple affairs. Apple complained in January, and Twitter’s yanked the account because of its strict “no parody accounts” stance. Where’s the fun element, Twitter? And how closely does this resemble censorship?

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