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Click Fraud Rate Spikes In Q4
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The average attempted click fraud rate increased from 18.6 percent in the third quarter of 2009, to 25.7 percent in the fourth quarter according to a new report from Anchor Intelligence.

The jump in the attempted click fraud rate in Q4 was due to more activity by click fraudsters looking to take advantage of the increase in holiday ad spend online. The spread of botnets, which are used for automating traffic and coordinating click fraud activity, spiked late in the quarter.

HubSpot Documents Decline In Twitter Growth Rate

This morning, HubSpot released a fresh "State of the Twittersphere" report, and in just about every respect, the news for the site is good, meaning growth has occurred since the last time HubSpot checked in.  The only potential problem relates to the rate of new user growth, which is rather slow.

Skype Sees Big Jump in International Calls

Skype announced that its share of international calling minutes has jumped by 50% year-over-year. This data comes from a new report released by research firm TeleGeography.

According to this report, Skype’s share of international calling minutes jumped to 12% from last year’s figure of 8%. Telegeography says that the volume of traffic routed via Skype is growing at an "astonishing" pace. The following graph shows the net increase in international phone and Skype traffic from 2005 to 2009.

Time Buys Personal Shopping Engine StyleFeeder
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Time Inc. said today it has purchased personal shopping engine StyleFeeder in an effort to expand its ecommerce presence.

StyleFeeder will become part of Time’s InStyle family of brands and its ecommerce technology will power shopping on InStyle.com. Financial details of the acquisition were not released.

Google Delays Launch Of Android Phones In China

This morning, Google gave another sign that it’s not kidding about cutting its ties with China.  The launch of two Android phones in the country – which had been scheduled to take place tomorrow – has been postponed indefinitely.

Microsoft Changes Bing User Privacy Methods

Microsoft is making some updates to Bing privacy. The company sent a letter to the Article 29 Working Party, notifying them of its intention to make a change to Bing’s data retention policy. The company is reducing the amount of time it stores IP addresses from searchers to 6 months from 18.

Avast Software Added To Google Pack
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At least in certain parts of the world, Google has revised its approach to connecting people with security products.  Avast Free Antivirus is now included in eight different versions of the Google Pack bundle of software.

New Jersey Considers Legalizing Online Gambling
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A newly proposed law in New Jersey would allow residents there to gamble online via websites run by the state’s casinos in Atlantic City.

The bill was introduced into the New Jersey senate by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who also introduced a separate bill which calls for New Jersey residents to vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow state-regulated sports wagering in Atlantic City casinos, and to state residents via an intra-state Internet gambling system.

Google Makes it Harder to Hide from a Bad Reputation
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Google is now including reviews from more sources on its Place Pages for businesses. They’re no longer coming from just review sites. They’re coming from news sites, blogs, and more.

Bing Makes Out Well In Search Spend Report

A little bit of data from the Efficient Frontier Q4 2009 Search Engine Performance Report has been made available, and it’s completely un-shocking in that it shows search marketers are still more than happy to spend their money with Google.  The interesting thing, though, is that Bing seems to have gained a little ground on the search giant.

Baidu CTO’s Resignation Announced

It appears that not all is well (or at least normal) at Baidu.  Last week, the company’s COO abruptly resigned, and today, its CTO followed suit.  Both men cited "personal reasons" for their departures, and Baidu’s made little other information available.

Employers Using Social Networks To Screen Employees
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As social networking becomes increasingly widespread, more employers are using these sites to screen potential employees.

More than half (53%) of employers reported in a recent CareerBuildere.co.uk survey that they use social networking sites to research job candidates. Another 12 percent plan to start using social networking sites for screening.

How Google Rates Links from Facebook and Twitter
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The first Matt Cutts Answers Questions About Google video of the year has been posted, and in it Matt addresses links from Twitter and Facebook, after talking about his shaved head again. Specifically, the submitted question he answers is:

Links from relevant and important sites have always been a great way to get traffic & acceptance for a website. How do you rate links from new platforms like Twitter, FB to a website?

Will Apple and Google Have Some Real Smartphone Competition?
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Back in November, Sony Ericsson announced its new smartphone the Xperia X10. It has been much anticipated by mobile enthusiasts, and is expected to give other popular phones (like the iPhone) some interesting competition.

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Sony Ericsson was of course demonstrating this device, and WebProNews dropped by the company’s booth to check it out first-hand. Check that out in the following clip.

Travel And Weather Websites See Big Gains In December
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During December 2009, winter weather hit the country driving holiday travelers online, according to Compete’s latest top 50 website rankings.

Six of the top 20 highest growth website categories in December were travel and weather related.  The airport travel category attracted 40 percent more unique visitors in December (2.1 million) than the previous month.  News sites related to weather and traffic also saw big growth, increasing visitors by 34.8 percent over November to reach 52.5 million unique visitors.

Content Can Now Go Viral More Easily with Facebook
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Over the past year or so, Facebook has made a number of moves, which bring more Twitter-like functionality to the social network. Some question why Facebook would want to become more like Twitter given that it is much more dominant in the social media space, but Facebook sees the growing-popularity of Twitter, and likely wants to make sure it offers everything users want, to keep them around for the long haul.

More Complaints Filed Against Google In Germany
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Life isn’t getting any simpler for the executives and lawyers who represent Google Germany.  This weekend, word spread that three complaints against the organization have been filed with Germany’s Federal Cartel Office.

Turkey Blocking More Than 3,000 Websites
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The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a human rights watchdog, called on Turkey today to reform or abolish its restrictive Internet policy.

"At present, 3,700 Internet sites are blocked in Turkey, including YouTube, GeoCities, and Google sites," said Miklos Haraszti, an OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

Were Googlers Involved in Chinese Cyber Attack?

Reuters is reporting that Google is now investigating the possibility that one or more Google employees could have been involved in the recent attack in China, but is not offering comment on any details. The news agency reports:

Microsoft Declines To Change China Approach
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In case you were wondering, Microsoft doesn’t plan to let the whole Google-China brouhaha affect its business strategy.  Steve Ballmer recently indicated that his company will more or less stay the course and throw Bing into the regional mix.

Part of the reason behind this decision might be that Microsoft hasn’t bought into the theory that China’s government participated in the hack that upset Google.  Or that it just felt unthreatened by it.

eBay Declared ’09 Mobile Retailer Of The Year
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The last eBay-centric article to appear on WebProNews concerned mobile transactions during the holiday season; the company was quite proud of its stats and had made some noise about them.  Now, there’s essentially been outside confirmation of its impressive performance, as eBay was declared the 2009 Mobile Retailer of the Year.

eBay

Google Reveals Factors for Ranking Tweets
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It’s ok to say "no" to Twitter if that’s your thing. There’s a chance that it just doesn’t fit into your strategy or help you achieve your goals. That’s cool. However, if it is your thing, you may be interested in how Google ranks tweets. That is if search marketing is your thing.

Is it OK to Say No to Twitter?
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Over the past year or more, you have probably heard your fair share of people telling you that you need to use Twitter if you hope to have business success. It’s true that there are a great many opportunities and potential benefits to using the service, but do you have to use it? Well, that depends.

Is Twitter Necessary? Tell us what you think.

66% of Government Agencies Use Social Networking

A recent study came out this week from the Human Capital Institute and Saba about government organizations’ use of social networking and collaboration tools. The study looked at the effectiveness of social networking in conducting government work, how agency type affects the use, and perception of social networking, and the future expectations and barriers for its use.