Hot on the heels of writing Why Google Rocks, I got some disturbing news about the God of the internet. Apparently, power corrupts at Google as much as it corrupts everywhere else. Drugstore Cowboy begins:
Meet the career con man who made a fortune selling illegal pharmaceuticals online—and pulled off a federal sting that forced Google to pay $500 million.
Apparently this guy Anthony Whitaker was a brilliant conman who made and lost several fortunes flogging fake steroids and illegal pharmaceuticals online. He did it mostly with Adwords and did it with the complicity of Google’s representatives. After getting busted, he cut a deal and set up Google to prove that Google employees “had actively helped him advertise his business, even though he had made no attempt to hide its illegal nature.” Over the course of the sting operation, his allegation was proven and Google ended up settling for $500 million. To you or I, that would amount to the equivalent of a $500 fine for a misdeed that netted us $50,000. Like HSBC Bank’s drug money laundering scandal, the penalty was a joke compared to the crime.
My faith in Google permanently shattered, I took a closer look and realized that, like a lover blind to the misdeeds of their beloved, I’d been overlooking a lot of things about Google. Chief amongst them was Google’s blatant attempts to follow my every move and try to anticipate my every need. Their clumsy attempts to place ads that match my “interests” had been annoying to me before, but I forgave them because I’d been sponging off Google for 15 years. The fact that they followed my every move when the GPS on my phone was switched on I thought was kind of cool until I realized that if they are willing to help a guy make a fortune selling bogus drugs, they would also be more than willing to tell anybody who paid them enough where I happened to be at any given moment.
Fortunately, I’m not a very important person, so I doubt Google will ever be offered big bucks for my whereabouts, but it’s the principle of it that sucks. When you’re the guardian of the world’s online activities, I reckon you shouldn’t take advantage of your power. Then again, I don’t think America should take advantage of its grip on power the way it does, either. Like I said, POWER CORRUPTS and we’re seeing examples of it big time all over the place these days.
So I take it back. Google doesn’t rock. Google sucks. There’s nothing I can do about it, though, so I’ll just continue taking advantage of it as best I can and keep my fingers crossed that I don’t become famous or rich enough for them to take a potshot at me.
What do you think of all those Adwords campaigns that appear on the sidebars of the sites you visit? Do they really reflect your interests? Mine sure don’t. Just because I live in Southeast Asia doesn’t mean I want to meet a Thai girlfriend. I write about forklifts, but I don’t want to buy one. I write about insurance sometimes. That doesn’t mean I’m frantically looking for an insurance policy. I am interested in exposing corruption in high places and spend a lot of time on alternative news sites, but I’m yet to see a sidebar widget telling me to watch RT or read the article on Wired that got this blog started.
As if fate was smiling upon me and giving the thumbs up to this blog, I ran across this great video today. “G-male” shows how Google’s thoughtfulness for anticipating our every desire starts to wear thin when we realize Google is there “for us” even when we don’t want it to be and when we’d rather our good buddy Google wasn’t spying on us. Enjoy.