The latest salvo in the Google vs Microsoft battle is the accusation that Bing is copying Google search results to improve their own algorithm. MS does not exactly deny the charge, but says that it is just one of many “signals” they use to improve their product.

Is what Bing did illegal? Not sure. Is “cheating” illegal or just immoral? That’s what they did – they looked over the shoulder of the smart kid in school and copied their test answers. Does anyone (other than Google, of course) care? This is mostly just something for the two companies to hash out in private. The rest of the world will scarcely notice, and I doubt the DoJ is mounting an investigation. At best, it’s probably a “mountain out of a molehill” in the SEO community.

But what irks me is that MS conscripted us into their questionable plan. They didn’t fill a room full of paid researchers to try and reverse engineer the Google algorithm. No. They took advantage of the ubiquity of Internet Explorer and used my data, your data, your neighbor’s data, to do their dirty work for them.

Whenever a piece of software asked “would you like to send us anonymous data to help us improve the product experience?”, I’d always figure “what harm could it do?”. But now, I will always say NO.

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