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Google Patenting 'Exponential' Friend Spamming

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the zuckerberg-beat-you-to-the-punch dept.

Google 64

theodp writes "'The web is better when it's social,' declared Google as it unveiled its OpenSocial initiative. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe not so much, unless you're keen on giving companies the capability to 'exponentially' bombard you with advertising across all of your social networking sites. On Thursday, the USPTO published Google's patent application for Propagating Promotional Information on a Social Network, which the search giant explains 'generally relates to creating and providing promotional information (e.g., advertising, public service announcements, etc.) to users of a social network (e.g., FACEBOOK, MYSPACE, ORKUT, LINKEDIN, TWITTER, etc.).' By doing so 'across multiple social networks,' Google adds, 'the impact of the other promotional information may exponentially expand to other users of a social network."

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I don't understand (2)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722414)

I really don't understand what's being proposed here ... but then I guess that's probably okay just as long as I buy more pointless shit as a result.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722496)

I can't be sure, but I think basically they want to be able to tell if you are you across your facebook AND your twitter to be sure to target your ads specifically to you. And then if you sign up for a LinkedIn you'll also already be profiled.

I think anyways. I've always imagined that some of this kind of stuff already goes down, but I suppose Goog's just wants the rights to be the only one allowed to do it? Like patenting their idea to track you everywhere?

I dunno. I'm rather apathetic today. Probably something in the water.

Re:I don't understand (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722892)

Don't they already know this using Flash cookies?

Re:I don't understand (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723010)

No one said it was a new method, just that they are patenting it.

Re:I don't understand (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723124)

I don't get that "targeted ads" thing at all.

Yes, if I search for flatscreen TV I'll quite probably click on ads offering flatscreen TVs*. Now, if I search for 555 datasheet, I probably won't click on any ad sayig things like "buy datasheets online". Google can know all that whithout looking what I do the rest of the time, so they must target for other kinds of ads.

So, there is, if I'm visiting a blog, it's quite useless to Google to know that I searched for flatscreen TVs last week**, I'm way more likely to click on an ad that relates to the blog somehow, so Google doesn't need to know what I do the rest of my time (or even who I am) again. The only explanation that makes sense is that Google somehow tries to guess what I'm looking for, and displays ads for that... I'd pay for a service like that, but they don't seem to do it. What is the deal?

* Or better, I would if Google didn't mess their links with useless Javascript that my browser can't work with. A few weeks ago I stopped following Google ads, and not because I wanted to. (They use that Javascript to follow me around, and offer better targeted ads. That's ironic.)

** If I clicked on an ad for flatscreen TV last week, I'm way less likely to click on one again than any random person. Are they using that knowledge to NOT show me an ad for flatscreen TV?

Re:I don't understand (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723248)

Then you have not kept up with how "targeted ads" work at all.

The "Search" part of it is actually the most minimal part of it. Merely by mentioning "Video Games" in my Likes on Facebook, and using it at my home computer, I'd now opened myself up to Adservers to track my IP, and give me endless ads for World of Warcraft.

Basically, they want to know you better by using social networking to track who your friends are and what their interests are, because friends usually share similar interests.

Sure, I might not SAY I'm a big fan of Ping Pong, but if I happen to hang out with a bunch of people who say they are, and have them on a social network's friend list, than Google might show an ad for it every odd once in a while to see if I bite.

Re:I don't understand (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34727296)

So, they are going for my third alternative. As I said, I'd even pay for it, but even google seems unable to do that job.

Re:I don't understand (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724224)

if I search for 555 datasheet, I probably won't click on any ad sayig things like "buy datasheets online".

A friend of mine runs an industry trade show. One time he was doing a periodic google of the name of his show, when he noticed some of the paid ads off to the side were saying "Buy [name of his trade show] here!"

He found it pretty amusing, and idiotic.

Re:I don't understand (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724520)

I can't tell by reading it, but it sounds like they are patenting at least two things:

a). The ability to tie all information together (as you said), and tie it not just to some anonymous cookie, but also to your account (which is not so simple using cookies alone), but also to your friends list.

b). The ability to tailor ads to your friends based on what they gather from you. You like crazy goat porn? Your friends will start seeing ads for it. Not only that, but this will happen on twitter, Linkdin, and every other social networking site you use. Better hope he's enough of a friend-whore that he doesn't notice that they all started when you friended him.

I'm wondering how far this will go? If someone one your friends list sends you a private message on facebook, can contents of that message now be linked to every site you and he visit?

Re:I don't understand (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725696)

You like crazy goat porn? Your friends will start seeing ads for it.

I'm removing any 4chan friends immediately.

Re:I don't understand (1)

ToadProphet (1148333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722798)

Looks like they want to link and propagate ads. It's likely interesting for the advertisers - they'd be able to put together a string of ads based on what the user has seen across multiple sites and tailor them to specific 'likes'. For us, just more stuff to ad-block.

Re:I don't understand (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34729790)

Google is filing a patent for spamming.

Good luck with that (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722422)

This is Slashdot. We have no friends!

Re:Good luck with that (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723422)

I feel it's not often enough that WE point out the obvious oddity that WE all can Identify together and laugh at the jokes WE share, even put each other on a friend/foe list, But the underlying meme WE all keep coming back to is WE have no friends!

You can call it super lame and totally laugh at me, but there are a few people on here that I barely even interact with that I would consider myself a "Friend" with even if it isn't mutual.

For example, I would be thrilled to bump into Eldavojohn at a conference and actually hold a lengthy conversation in person, as opposed to the current standard of writing out 5 paragraph posts to completely convey a message in a manner that removes any uncertainty. And sometimes Pojut makes me laugh and I know that if we were in front of each other we could probably keep a joke going long enough to create an inside joke that no one else would get later on. I could go on but I think I've reached the point:

While we have no friends, at least we're having fun together!

And Happy New Years. Yes I've already started drinking.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Punk CPA (1075871) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724848)

I thought this was Sparta?

Should have thought of that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34722428)

Patent SPAM!

Patenting the ability to advertise in ________ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34722446)

Sounds like a good business strategy, time to buy some Google stock, since there might be more AD revenue.

Re:Patenting the ability to advertise in ________ (2)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722856)

Hell with business strategy, here is a great end-user strategy for cutting spam!

If anybody spams you on your social sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever), just send a letter to Google and say "this guy is violating your patents, if you want to keep your patent, you better cease-and-desist them."

Then hold them to it. If you notify Google of people violating their patent, and they do nothing and you record the fact, then their patent can be thrown out in court.

Re:Patenting the ability to advertise in ________ (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722936)

I don't think that applies to patents. Which is a shame because it would make patent trolling a lot less lucrative.

Re:Patenting the ability to advertise in ________ (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722960)

If you notify Google of people violating their patent, and they do nothing and you record the fact, then their patent can be thrown out in court

New rule: people who comment on stories involving patents have to learn the difference between patents and trademarks.

All that latches means (in the USA - lots of places don't even have this rule for patents) is that you can't claim any damages that occur between becoming aware of the violation and sending the cease and desist. You can still wait for 5 years for a competitor to become large, send the C&D, and then sue them for any violations that occur afterwards.

Re:Patenting the ability to advertise in ________ (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725700)

If you notify Google of people violating their patent, and they do nothing and you record the fact, then their patent can be thrown out in court

That doesn't sound right...but it's on a Slashdot comment, it must be true.

TEH GOOGLE OWNS YOU !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34722474)

Teh google owns u a!! sukaz!!

The only way to win is to not play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34722482)

The only way to win in this game of their design is to not play.

Game theory 101 bitches!

Re:The only way to win is to not play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34722540)

Okay, so get the fuck off the internet already.

Re:The only way to win is to not play (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723030)

Unless you're prepared to be a hermit living off the land out in the forest fending for yourself, isolationism is not a viable strategy.

Doubly so when the society one seeks to avoid enmeshing with expands and decides to invade said forest.

Game Theory 101 also includes how to interact with a superior force holding all of the cards.

Say goodbye to bandwidth! (2)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722566)

This is how the internet ends. Not with government censorship or technological breakdown, but with corporate sponsored spam suffocation.

Re:Say goodbye to bandwidth! (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723540)

The thing is, if advertising gets really, really good, I see that as a good thing. There are a lot of "long tail" items which I've never heard about, but which I'm sure I'd find useful. If I could be exposed to those (privacy concerns notwithstanding...), that'd be pretty neat. As it is, though, I just ignore essentially all advertising.

Re:Say goodbye to bandwidth! (2)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723658)

Well I do have to say a bit of disagreement on bandwidth suffocation. Whether you like or hate google you do have to admit their philosophies saved bandwidth and lowered suffocation. Before google started getting big, the general philosophies of advertisers was, OK nobodies clicking our ads, make them bigger make them louder, prevent access to the page until they have aired

Google started focusing on the idea, No matter how loud you scream it or how much you force them to watch, a 21 year old single man isn't likely to be interested in tampons, and thus google focused on smaller text only advertisements that focused on relavance to the target instead of flashyness

Now avoiding being labeled a google fanboy, this change in philosophy came at a price, relevant ads revolve around knowing as much about the person as possible, and thus, tracking, monitoring etc...

In my opinion I myself would rather google have the pattent on this ability then say a company with the old style of thought, flash ads etc...

In the end there are 3 choices for the internet to carry on
1. Dealing with loud obnoxious advertisements with no real target audience beyond what page they are on
2. Dealing with small quiet advertisements that track everything they possibly can about you
3. More sites go paywall and charge for accessing their content.

Much like the expression, fast cheap and quality pick 2
Private, free and non-advertisement flooded pick 2

Prior art (1)

Spykk (823586) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722636)

Are they really trying to patent updating several social networks with the same inane post? I'm pretty sure prior art on that goes back as far as 12 year olds have been on the internet.

Re:Prior art (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724530)

Prior Art:

"First post"
"frosty piss"
"Natalie Portman naked and petrified"

Thank you Slashdot trolls! You might have defeated this thing...

Good. (3, Interesting)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722646)

Now that they've patented it, all the other big players won't be able to do it and it'll be easier to adblock from one central origin.

Re:Good. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723154)

Now that they've patented it, all the other big players won't be able to do it and it'll be easier to adblock from one central origin.

Nah ... they'll just cross-license.

Re:Good. (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723888)

On Thursday, the USPTO published Google's patent application...

Re:Good. (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725770)

We'll just ask everyone to openly declare they are spamming as they re-tweet every openly declared spam message they get. Yeah, that'll work.

"promotional information" - were did we go wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34722762)

"creating and providing promotional information"

When I first discovered the internet (in autumn 1984), it had no "promotional information" on it. No spam, no astroturfing, no tracking of your every move. It isn't clear to me what, exactly, was broken with that model, or why since then everybody has become so keen on giving away all their personal information to for-profit companies so that they even *could* be bombarded with "promotional information". Why did we start to tolerate the spam and the tracking? I never tolerated it, but a few hundred million *other* people didn't seem to mind those things...

All along I've been communicating with my friends on the internet, not to mention some people from other countries I've never met in real life but have some common hobbies or interests with. But none of that has ever required giving away my personal data to people who want to make a profit from it. It never required having my every move tracked and logged and sold to data miners. People do those things *because we let them*.

You get what you deserve. If the general public acts in a way consistent with an internet that bombards them with "exciting promotional materials" and tracks every last thing they do, that's what it's going to get. To me, that ruins the very thing that made the early internet great.

Re:"promotional information" - were did we go wron (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722952)

The brokenness was that for a small network it doesn't take much to keep it running, but with a huge network it costs a lot of money. You pay your ISP for access, but somebody on the other end has to pay to provide the other bit of service. For P2P type things that other party is paying their ISP, but for services like slashdot, somebody has to cover the bandwidth and various other costs.

Re:"promotional information" - were did we go wron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34723304)

> but for services like slashdot, somebody has to cover the bandwidth

We used to have usenet, which started out fantastic (spam free) and distributed among many sites. Eventually a bunch of assholes ruined it for everybody, but before that point it had some fantastic discussion forums.

The problem with web forums (aside from having vastly inferior UI's) is that they are a star architecture. One site has to serve up the bandwidth for every single consumer. One can imagine other architectures that don't suffer from that problem.

Of course, it doesn't help any that many modern web sites have an overhead well over 95%. To send a few KB of textual content, the javascript/etc overhead sent along with those few KB can be hundreds of KB, even some MB in extreme cases. Usenet would just send the content with the only overhead being headers and threading information.

It's clear usenet was going to die, but it isn't clear a zillion separate little web forums with their bloat and inferior UIs were the best thing to replace it.

Re:"promotional information" - were did we go wron (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34723356)

OK, but that doesn't mean that we need services like Facebook to talk to our friends or interesting strangers. People were communicating just fine on the internet for decades before Facebook, Twitter, and so forth came along. There's no need to give up all your personal data and let yourself be logged and tracked just to communicate on the internet.

Prior art: Shampoo (2)

Jay L (74152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722772)

There once was a shampoo that somebody liked. And she told two friends, and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on [youtube.com] .

Re:Prior art: Shampoo (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723138)

There once was a shampoo that somebody liked. And she told two friends, and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on [youtube.com] .

I think it's more like, "And she told two friends the first day, and they all told two friends the second day, and they all told two friends the third day ..." Next thing you know, there are more ads than grains of sand in the Universe.

Re:Prior art: Shampoo (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723782)

Okay. So Google can't patent word-of-mouth. Being as that is neither a website (which ALL of their examples are and which they explicitly claim), is not across multiple social networks even if it were, and doesn't meet the claims of the patent that are ACTUALLY patented and not the abstract describing in generic terms what it is about, I fail to see what value you think your post has.

If you don't know how patents work or what prior art is, that's fine. Don't post acting as if you do. The seemingly-contagious Slashdot idiocy regarding patents has gotten old and adds nothing whatsoever to any discussion of the important issues surrounding patents and IP law.

Re:Prior art: Shampoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34724070)

doesn't meet the claims of the patent that are ACTUALLY patented and not the abstract describing in generic terms what it is about, I fail to see what value you think your post has.

Everyone knows you can drive a nail with a hammer. But this patent isn't on driving a nail with a hammer, it's on driving a very special nail made of ALLOYS of MULTIPLE METALS using a hammer with a handle made of WOOD.

Re:Prior art: Shampoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34729662)

Has anyone ever told you you are a douche?

You might not have heard them over the shit that comes from your gob. I will too, you are a douche and you know less than the GP.

GTFO.

Re:Prior art: Shampoo (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725460)

Yes, that idea, but then "on a computer". That's a big difference there. (cough)

I just sent you a wuphf (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34722800)

http://www.wuphf.com/

Fundamental sciences called (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722874)

they wants their PhDs back.

Don't read too much into a patent (2)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34722896)

Patenting something just means it's an idea someone came up with. A patent is cheap and it may just be something to use in the future in case they need to defend themselves.

Give them the benefit of the doubt until they actually consider using this.

Re:Don't read too much into a patent (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723148)

Patenting something just means it's an idea someone came up with.

Unfortunately, that is now true. It didn't used to be that way, of course ... you were not patenting an idea, a concept, something completely nebulous and fundamentally useless, you were patenting an implementation of that idea, something concrete, something of value in the real world.

But our rather well-paid and not particularly intelligent or honest Congress finished that.

Evil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34723566)

Evil. Pure Evil.
To Google is Sin.
Google is a Sin.
So much for the mantra.

Bad Summary - Advertising is not spam (2)

TMarvelous (928161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723812)

Say what you want about tracking cookies and retargeting techniques but this story has nothing to do with spam. They seem to have patented a way to server advertising to users across many social networks which could then expose those adds to friends and friends of friends of the user who first sees the ad. This isn't much different than all of your friends seeing that you have "liked" a page on facebook. Marketers bank on the hope that some of the people who see what you have just "liked" will follow the link and possibly connect with their page as well. It's voluntary and opt-in and pretty unobtrusive. I don't see what about this Google concept is different from that.

In Theory, Easier to Filter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34723906)

If all spam goes to all of your accounts, then you know you've got a non-spam message when it only goes to one of them. Sadly not all spam will spam all of your accounts.

Re:In Theory, Easier to Filter (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724332)

By the time everybody is using the technique you mentioned, google will file a new patent, for sending out different versions of spam to each account.

Show your money wisdom, Slashdot! (2)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34723998)

Slashdotters, now is your chance to direct my investment portfolio.

I misjudged the iPod ("It's crap!" I said).

I misjudged Netbooks ("They are too small, Windows Home is crap and the Atom is rubbish!" I said).

I misjudged the iPad ("C'mon, it's not really Magical!" I said.

I missed my chance to buy Goldman Sachs stock ("C'mon, people are not *that* stupid!" I said.)

Well, it's the end of a decade and the numbers are in: I am an idiot. Years of my trying have proven that I am a failure at investing. Perhaps randomly selected, total strangers who have no reason to like me will do as well or better with my money.

So tell me, ye wiser creatures, how can I make big gains from the growing stupidity of Social Networking?

Re:Show your money wisdom, Slashdot! (3, Funny)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724696)

So tell me, ye wiser creatures, how can I make big gains from the growing stupidity of Social Networking?

Ponzi scams?

Re:Show your money wisdom, Slashdot! (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725088)

Number 6, you are probably right.

Re:Show your money wisdom, Slashdot! (1)

spasm (79260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34725394)

Keep making predictions, then bet against them.

Re:Show your money wisdom, Slashdot! (1)

damaged_sectors (1690438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726102)

So tell me, ye wiser creatures, how can I make big gains from the growing stupidity of Social Networking?

Since you asked so nicely I'm going to tell you. Your problem is that you've been using rationale and logic - those things won't get you rich fast, that's just hard work - to make a killing you need to make unreasonable amounts of money from people's gullibility and greed. Don't make the mistake of looking for what the market needs - remember we want to make a killing, not get a job.

The more unlikely, improbable, and down-right impossible the properties of the product you're pitching - the greater the potential. Couple that with a product that is so outrageously overpriced that even in a mythical movie land where it did as claimed you'd be making 1000% mark-up and you've got the beginnings of your overnight fortune.

Having got your product (which I'll get to in a minute) you need to market it. And that's the easy part. Television. Now twit and facefriend are good - but television is embattled these days and their people will bend over backwards to help you for a very low price - and television is how the fools find out "what's hot and what's not" about the social web.

Note: social media == imaginary friends == social pressure. Combine all the above factors and you cannot lose.

Here's the product selection process:-

  • Play on the general couch-loving public's inability to completely separate fact from fiction. What crap have people watched lately? Iron Man!
  • So what got people who identify with screen characters excited about in Iron Man? (I'm guessing here) Super strength from technology! Magic == technology, that bits's easy.
  • Now you need something incredibly cheap, and preferably toxic - it doesn't have to have real technology, probably better if it doesn't (cheaper). You just have to say it's got technology - that it doesn't actually have any more technology than something found in a packet of junk food just demonstrates that it's "sooper advanced technology". How about a toxic rubber wristband with a Tazo toy stuck on it? Can you buy it in bulk for less than $2 including shipping from China? Perfect!

Let's see - be have a hazy belief in the possibility (if we can "visualize" it must be possible), we've got the stupid greed factor (in real life it'd be a big stretch *and* take time and effort) - sex it up with a few totally implausible bits of jargon like "mylar technology" "human vibration frequency" - now you just need to let the fools know. So what are you waiting for - ring your local television show and book your 10 minutes now - they'll fit you in (for a fee) between the weekly book plug, cure for cancer, a miracle diet.they'll even give you advice on how to best get your message across. Bet you thought ypu could just sell this shit on outright lies right? Think again - those helpful television folks will quickly point out that not everyone watching is totally stupid - and not just the stupid have money. Easy fixed by simply saying "we can't explain why people believe this".

See how easy that was? All you've got to do now is move those millions as quick as possible to somewhere the regulators can't reach when they shut you down. They will shutdown you down eventually - but they'll probably never chase your money. Still - no harm in being careful.

Get you Power Balance® product now! Only $59.99 for a limited time only - increases your strength and balance by 500% - Everyone else has already bought one - don't miss out

Dealer inquiries welcome - ring now for an exclusive affiliate marketing deal - your chance to become an overnight millionaire!

Lovely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34724488)

More quality patents from American innovation. USPTO is a waste of our tax dollars. Stupid Federals.

I can see this working (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724826)

if it only propagates when an ad is clicked. eg: If you click an ad then it also displays that ad (or similar) on your friends pages as well. It is just targeted advertising. I would rather see ads that may interest me and my friends then random ads for "smiley central" or "the facebook of sex".

Re:I can see this working (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#34724842)

... of course I would rather see no ads at all, but that's beside the point.

Prior art: Chain letter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34725350)

Make 10 copies of this post and mail to your friends ...

Re:Prior art: Chain letter? (1)

damaged_sectors (1690438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726190)

Make 10 copies of this post and mail to your friends ...

Make 1000 copies of this post and twit them to your imaginary friends for another 1000 imaginary friends....

--- #rm -i `find -iname '*.sol'`

wait....OpenSocial is still around? (1)

conark (871314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34726074)

i thought that would be bigger news.
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