According to New Scientist magazine, search engines Google, Yahoo!, Bing et. al., have isolated and punished content farms and websites who use their services.
According to the article which available online at the magazine's website, New Scientist asked University of Glasgow computer scientist Richard McCreadie to study 50 search queries that are “known to be a target of content farmers. One example query given is "how to train for a marathon."  McCreadie studied those queries in both March and August, and the magazine says “the results show that Google and Microsoft have won a major victory against content farms.
For years, website owners and developers have plugged into content generation sites and engines which fed website boilerplate tailored and themed content. The goal was to trick the  search engines into thinking content was being regularly updated and relevant to users and providing the websites strong page rankings and Google placement boosts.
According to the article, "the results are striking. In the case of the marathon query, sites that contained lists of generic tips, such as “invest in a good pair of running shoes, were present in the top 10 in March but had disappeared by August, while high-quality sources, such as Runner's World magazine, now appear near the top. Similar trends were found throughout the 50 queries."
This apparent crackdown gives hope to website developers and owners committed to providing valuable and original content for users but were being snowed under by much of the garbage flowing from the content generation farms.

Internet Explorer update procrastinators look out!

Come January, Microsoft will start forcing users to update from older versions of Internet Explorer. But don’t fret: if you have Automatic Updates enabled in Windows Update, the update will occur seamlessly and worry free.

Microsoft already provides security updates to Internet Explorer through Windows Update. However, under the forced update, legacy browser users will see a full-browser upgrade. This means Windows XP users on Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 will be upgraded to version 8, and Windows Vista users will be upgraded to Internet Explorer 9.

According to Microsoft, a big motivating factor to introduce the forced upgrades is security risks. The latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report indicates that malware is an enormous threat facing computer user as malware often goes after security holes in browsers.

According to Microsoft, forced updates will first be introduced to Windows users in Brazil and Australia because people there use a broad spread of IE6, IE7, and IE8.

According to Reuters, Facebook has launched a new suicide-prevention tool that's meant to give users a direct link to an online chat with counsellors who can help.

Friends are able to report suicidal behaviour by clicking a report option next to any piece of content on the site and choosing suicidal content under the harmful behavior option, Facebook spokesman Frederic Wolens said.

Facebook will then email the user in distress a direct link for a private online chat with a crisis representative from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as the group's phone number.

The new tool gives people who may not be comfortable picking up the phone a direct avenue to seek help.

""This was a natural progression from something we've been working on for a long time," Wolens said.

Users also have the ability to report suicidal behavior by going to the site's Help Center or search for suicide reporting forms. They can also use reporting links around the site.

Worried friends who reported the behavior will also receive a message to say it is being addressed, Wolens said.

Facebook, the most popular Web-based social networking site, has more than 800 million active users worldwide. The Palo Alto, California-based company was co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004.

The new suicide reporting tool will be made available to people who use Facebook in the United States and Canada.

Wolens said that all reporting on the site is done anonymously and so a distressed user will not know who reported the suicidal content.

Facebook is rumoured to be launching mobile advertising services in early 2012 and will be going up against Google and Apple.

According to blog and some media reports, Facebook is considering putting its Sponsored Stories ads, which feature friends' interactions with brands, into the mobile News Feed. According to one blog post, Facebook's new advertising service was originally supposed to arrive earlier this year, but the plan was delayed.

According to a story on Zdnet, Facebook has managed to establish itself as a major advertising supplier because it has a unique offering to businesses that are willing to gamble a little with their marketing dollars. “Advantages include being able to target users with a precision not found in most other forms of advertising. With its quickly growing user base (800 million monthly active users and counting), the company’s social graph is exploding across all demographics, which only further fuels improved ad targeting, performance, and revenue as well.”