Friday News: Google’s ‘right to be forgotten,’ Amazon v. the FTC, the death of the novel (again, still), and the NSFW asymmetric man thong

Friday News: Google’s ‘right to be forgotten,’ Amazon v. the FTC,...

For Google, the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Is an Unforgettable Fiasco – An interesting — and troubling — piece on the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” ruling that contemplates the absolute mess this decision may have on the world’s largest search engine. Part of this emanates from the difficult and difficultly close relationship between public interest news and commentary and what some perceive to be defamatory. But the ruling has also exposed the way in which search results may not be so unbiased and objectively organized as Google would like everyone to believe.

In some ways, Google is just following the EU’s dictates. The company fought the EU on the right-to-be-forgotten issue, but now it has no choice but to implement the ruling, which the court says applies “where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive.” By that standard, these takedowns would seem to overstep the letter of a decision ostensibly intended to protect the reputation of individuals, not censor news. But the issue for Google isn’t just freedom of speech or freedom of the press. The “right to be forgotten” decision is calling unwanted attention to the easy-to-forget fact that–one way or another—fallible human hands are always guiding Google’s seemingly perfect search machine. –Wired

Amazon Resisting FTC on Policy Change for In-App Purchases – All of the controversy over Hachette and Amazon has overshadowed other news, in particular this issue regarding unauthorized in-app purchases children make on mobile devices. The FTC wants Amazon to comply with certain guidelines regarding these purchases, which amount to big money, especially when parents don’t submit a request for a refund. Apple is paying a hefty fine for their perceived deficiencies in this regard, and now the FTC is threatening Amazon with a lawsuit, which the company is reportedly brushing off with a statement to the effect that they will see the government in court.

App stores, such as those operated by Amazon, Apple and Google Inc., are key weapons for the technology firms as they battle for customers. The app stores maintain credit-card and other user information, leading to concerns that the companies aren’t doing enough to prevent unauthorized uses, particularly by children.

In-app purchases include things like additional game levels, new characters, songs and outfits for game characters. They are typically between $1 and $5, but can run much higher; app store owners typically keep 30% of the fee. –Wall Street Journal

The novel is dead (this time it’s for real) – As much as I agree with Will Self that close reading seems to be challenged, especially in our increasingly online culture, I just cannot swallow this diatribe against digital media disguised as a self-evident treatise on the death of paper books and, by extension, the importance of the literary novel as critical part of popular culture. Clearly there’s a lot of anxiety around this issue (witness the anger directed at Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and all the debates about whether the novel is literary fiction or not), but I tend to believe in the pendulum theory of historical evolution, and I suspect things will swing the other way, sooner rather than later. Or not, and we’re all doomed. DOOMED, I TELL YOU!

The seeming realists among the Gutenbergers say such things as: well, clearly, books are going to become a minority technology, but the beau livre will survive. The populist Gutenbergers prate on about how digital texts linked to social media will allow readers to take part in a public conversation. What none of the Gutenbergers are able to countenance, because it is quite literally – for once the intensifier is justified – out of their minds, is that the advent of digital media is not simply destructive of the codex, but of the Gutenberg mind itself. There is one question alone that you must ask yourself in order to establish whether the serious novel will still retain cultural primacy and centrality in another 20 years. This is the question: if you accept that by then the vast majority of text will be read in digital form on devices linked to the web, do you also believe that those readers will voluntarily choose to disable that connectivity? If your answer to this is no, then the death of the novel is sealed out of your own mouth. –The Guardian Books

Asymmetric Man-Thongs Are The Most Insane Thing A Man Can Wear This Summer – I so wanted to find a better source for this story, but unfortunately, BuzzFeed has the most, uh, generous coverage of the so-called asymmetric man thong. I’ve been waiting to run this story, and I’m hoping that between the US holiday and the general proximity to the weekend that this NSFW post will provide a bit of a diversion from all the serious news we’ve had to deal with this week. –BuzzFeed