Search stripped? European regulators have several beefs with Google—the digital giant has been accused of tax avoidance and violations of data protection laws—but right now they’re focused on whether the company, which reportedly controls 90% of the online search market in Europe, is wielding illegal monopolistic power. Based on allegations that Google is manipulating search results to the detriment of its potential competitors, the European Parliament is expected to vote on Dec. 4 on a non-binding resolution to break up Google on the continent. The parliamentary vote won’t have the force of law, but a vote recommending a Google take-down could influence the European Commission—which does have the power to act—to make demands of the company or to take it to court to force its breakup. The EU’s top official for digital markets has said that such an outcome is far from inevitable, however.
Toy story. With Black Friday approaching, we’re reminded that, not too long ago, parents, toy manufacturers and retailers had little to go on in seeking to determine what would be the most popular toys over the holiday season. Not so today, thanks to the convergence of big data and social media. Data analytics companies are delving into the social media universe to identify patterns and look for developing trends. Based on its analysis of hundreds of millions of posts and tweets, one company informs us that the video game “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfighter” will be popular, as will child-friendly versions of adult gadgets like the Vtech Kidizoom Smart Watch and My Friend Cayla. Another data analytics company says that LeapFrog and Minecraft-related toys will be hot. And all the companies agree that Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen is likely to be as ubiquitous over the winter holidays as she was at Halloween. So, for those parents who are sick of hearing that ubiquitous Frozen song, just let it go—it’s going to be a long winter for you.
Yik Yak backed. Yik Yak, the messaging app that we recently reported has become a popular means of communicating deeply offensive remarks because of its promise to protect users’ anonymity, has raised $63 million in venture capital in its third round of funding. As a result, its market valuation is now between $300 million and $400 million. The backer is Sequoia, the venture capital firm that hit record pay dirt when WhatsApp was sold to Facebook in February of this year. The Yik Yak deal confirms what we’ve been saying here for some time—as consumer privacy concerns continue to grow over traditional social media platforms, there’s a huge demand for new platforms that provide (or at least purport to provide) users with greater anonymity—we’re calling it asocial media.