This Week In Web - 8.8.14

  •   Aly Keen

By Aly Keen

This week - Google is the law in this town, literally ruining our vocabulary, and poorly timed jokes.

Google Tip Leads to Arrest

In a tech-savvy world where we are very concerned about our privacy, albeit not as concerned as Europeans, sometimes technology works for the greater good. The government and local law enforcement cannot search our personal possessions or online activity without a warrant, but apparently Google can.

When emails are sent, received or stored, Google automatically analyzes the content to enhance future search results and user experience. When images of a young girl were detected in John Henry Skillern’s email to a friend, Google alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Turns out Skillern is a registered sex offender. This led to a warrant with police searching Skillern’s phone and tablet exposing incriminating evidence and ledeing to an arrest of the 41-year old. He was charged with possession of child pornography and promotion of child pornography.

According to neighbors, Skillern was a "nice, normal man". They say some people have completely different identities comparing in-person and online interactions. If we can’t tell the difference, at least Google can. The question remains, is Google reaching beyond the bounds of privacy protection in an effort to serve the greater good?

Literally ruining our vocabulary

Every now and again we’ll hear of the words being added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary or official Scrabble dictionary, like “selfie”. A second definition now exists for the word “literally”. Why is this newsworthy? “Literally” now means “figuratively” in some instances.  The new definition added reads, “in effect; virtually.” 


I would like to also point you towards the following definitions:

ox·y·mo·ron noun \ˌäk-sē-ˈmȯr-ˌän\

: a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings


ig·no·min·i·ous adjective \ˌig-nə-ˈmi-nē-əs\

: causing disgrace or shame

Fining brides for poor reviews

The wedding industry is known to be service-oriented and pricey. Engaged couples expect the red carpet to be rolled out for the amount of money they’re spending. For that reason, customer satisfaction makes or breaks your reputation in this industry. When the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York started receiving multiple poor reviews online, it enacted a policy of charging couples $500 for every negative review posted online by guests.

Bride and groom

When the hotel was contacted for comment, a representative responded, “The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced.” 

Whether or not this was a real policy, it seems the venue has a bit of damage control to do and several issues to address. Many people offended by the "joke" left negative reviews for the hotel despite never having spent the night there. This is the price you pay for jokes made in bad taste.

Header photo by mrd00dman