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Google, Facebook, Uber, and nearly 100 others team up to take on Trump’s travel ban

97 major firms in the US – including tech companies like Apple, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Twitter, Uber and Y Combinator – have joined hands in filing an amicus brief tonight opposing President Trump’s travel ban, which he recently detailed in an executive order.
The brief, filed with filed with the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, states that the companies believe the order to be unlawful, discriminatory and harmful to business in the US.





Google Maps Street View a few years removed from present-day Duluth



Taking a virtual tour of Duluth, would-be visitors might get excited about shopping at Saw-Mill Unpainted Furniture, eating at Takk For Maten Cafe or even enjoying a nice loiter outside Last Place on Earth. Would-be business owners, too, might raise their eyebrows at the empty storefront near a major downtown corner or the vacant land on a busy stretch of Grand Avenue.
Except those Superior Street shops are gone, and that prime real estate is now 7 West Taphouse and the Whole Foods Co-op in Denfeld.
With a few exceptions, Google Maps Street View images of Duluth date to 2012 or earlier — that's two presidential elections ago. Though the look of the city hasn't changed drastically, many signs certainly have.
"Google business photos, including Street View, may correlate with higher local search ranking," said Alyssa Hayes, spokeswoman for the state's tourism bureau, Explore Minnesota. That can be a deciding factor in whether someone patronizes or can even find a local business.
According to a study by Longwoods International released last year, two-thirds of Duluth's overnight visitors used social media for travel in 2015; a Goolge-backed survey said 44 percent of all consumers use maps when looking for businesses.
"Visitors with existing plans to travel to an area may be using maps to research nearby businesses/attractions from Google Street View, so it can be a welcoming first impression," Hayes said.
Google doesn't plan on visiting Minnesota in the first half of 2017; the only states on this year's posted schedule are California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
That means the other Duluth — outside Atlanta — will soon have a fresher digital face than the Zenith City. (Actually, the Georgia town already has newer imagery.) Even the Bohol Province in the Philippines will have newer Street View optics by the end of the year.
Google didn't respond to requests for comment for this story; the tech giant reportedly doesn't give out information about impending Street View updates other than what it offers online.
Since the Street View schedule only goes through July, it's possible the company visits before the end of the year; it has previously been to town in August through November.
Between 2008 and 2012, Google sent its camera-equipped cars to many corners of the city four or five times. Since, there has been just one visit. Photos of a select few blocks of downtown, the Miller Hill Mall area and stretches of Interstate 35 and Highway 53 date to November 2015, so the Twin Ports is still on Google's radar. Just not all of it, all of the time.
"We pay close attention to many factors, including the weather and the population density of various areas, to determine when and where we can collect the best possible imagery," Google says on its Street View site.
That would explain why shots of the Twin Cities metro area are years newer than those around the Twin Ports.
Still, shots of Brainerd, Walker, Austin and Ashland are newer than the majority of the Street View visage for the state's second-largest metro area. Duluth isn't the oldest page in the digital photo album — shots of Ely, Grand Portage and Ironwood are nearing a decade old.
Businesses can work with Google to put in their own photos, Hayes said, or create "high-quality virtual tours."
"Working with this visual technology is new, and one of various avenues to produce immersive and unique digital experiences to drive tourism in Minnesota," she said.
Anyone can add a photo to a company's Google search results; businesses can add shots that will be categorized "by owner," or hire Google-certified photographers to create a 3-D, indoor tour. Visit www.google.com/streetview/hire/ and www.google.com/business to learn more.