So Much for "Don't Be Evil"
I knew that slogan was out the window when GOOG went public. Sooner or later, answering to shareholders trumps* all else.
*Shit, can't even use that word in plain language any more.
The firing of a high-profile academic has spun a spotlight onto one of the public policy world's best-known dirty secrets: Google's use of donations to stymie criticism of its business. Barry Lynn has been a persistent critic of the ad giant, particularly its growing monopoly over much of our digital lives. "It's becoming …
So much for Google's original good resolution. They are just as evil as the rest of the giant corporations.
"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them".
- Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar, Ch. XX
People love to focus on Google for this sort of behaviour, but there really isn't anything new or unusual going on here. How exactly do people think groups like the NRA, oil industry, pharmaceutical industry, tobacco, cars, Boeing, the cable and mobile monopolies, and so on ad infinitum, gain and keep their influence? And that's just a few of the more obvious ones in the USA, which, despite how ridiculous it may sound, is actually one of the less corrupt countries around. That doesn't make it any better when Google join the game, but they're very much the new kids on the block when it comes to this kind of buying influence.
I willing to listen to criticism of Google, except from Yelp. Yelp plays dirty in its earlier days by blackmailing merchants to buy into their sponsorship and hide community critical reviews of their paying sponsors. If Yelp is as heavy weight as Google, they would be behaving much worse than Google.
In defense of Google, they have not done anything that is outrageously unethical. In fact, one of the most important reasons that Google was able to beat Yahoo, Microsoft, and many other search engines in the early days of Internet was precisely Google was trustworthy in the search results. Most other major search engines put their advertisers links in the first few pages of search outcome, while Google carefully delineated what the user was looking for and what the advertisements were. The user rarely clicked into a site under a false pretense. This made both the users and advertisers happy.
Google has grown so big because it is good. Unlike operating systems which users can't easily switch from one to another, search engines have no hook on users. If they don't like Google, they can simply change the URL to another with no legacy baggage. There is no easier way to jump out of Google's ship. You can't punish a winner just because the losers are not good enough. It is unfair either to complain about the winner for being self interest. After all, in a competition, there is no rule that the winner has to help out competitors. The only time when the government should get involved in a free market is when the consumer's interest is hurt by a monopoly. I see no sign that it is the case with Google.
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