Tag Archives: Ethics

Google Employees Should Breakaway

To all the Google employees who decided to ditch Google and do what’s right – I dedicate this song to y’all 🙂

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Google Engineer: “Google Is The Biggest Data Collector In The World, Period”

Big Brother 2007 (UK)

Google is currently struggling with a brain drain as many of its employees are departing the company to found their own companies and to take advantage of better opportunities at emerging companies. Recently, Google’s very first employee, Craig Silverstein, left the company to pursue a more fulfilling career. Some Google employees are leaving because they feel that Google has changed over the years. This is definitely how a former Google executive, James Whittaker, felt when he left Google earlier this year.

In a blog post, Mr. Whittaker said that Google became more about chasing after Facebook and competing for precious advertising dollars – Google became less about maintaining a great internal culture and ethical business standards. Google is now willing to say and do anything to further itself in a competitive industry, which means that the company couldn’t care less about your privacy. Google’s number one customers are the advertisers. Google makes over 90% of its revenues from advertising – it is by far the world’s most intrusive company on the Internet. Google is able to track our web movements on literally millions of websites, without our knowledge or consent.

However, not all Google employees are happy about what Google is doing with our personal data. Some Google employees refuse to take part in something that is against their personal ethics. Former Google engineers Brian Kennish and Austin Chau founded Disconnect. Their new company’s mission is to give Internet users back control of their personal data.

Mr. Kennish says that Google is the biggest collector of personal data in the world – bar none – and this disturbed him enough that he decided to leave the company to work on a project that limits online tracking. He first got started with the Disconnect project while working at Google. He read an article about the lack of privacy on the Internet and how tracking companies are spying on our web surfing. He went home and created a browser extension that blocked third party tracking on Facebook.

He later quit his job at Google – this eventually led him to found his new company and expand services to block tracking on more websites, including Google. I have written on here several times before that Google is the biggest of the Big Brothers. This means that Google knows a lot about you. Google offers many products and services (YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, Google Search, Android, etc), this company is everywhere. On top of all this, Google has tracking devices all over the Internet – this means that even if you’re not on a Google owned website Google can still track you!

This is disturbing! Google’s new more intrusive privacy policy will allow the company to track you even more closely. At least there are some Google employees who aren’t afraid to speak up and do what’s right. Let’s hope that more Google employees find the courage to do what is right.

The video below is presentation by Brian Kennish – it’s definitely worth watching (pay especial attention at 10:00 – 10:33 mark in the video – this has happened!)

For more information:

ITProPortal, “Ex-Google Staff Working To Disconnect Surfers From Data Tracking” – click here

TechCrunch, “Disconnect: Ex-Googlers Raise Funding To Stop Google…” – click here

Nasdaq, “Google’s VP Of Product Management Leaving To Launch Startup” – click here

ITWorld, “How to get off Google for good” – click here

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Google Promotes The Use Of The N-Word On Black History Month

Okay, that headline above is pretty striking and shocking but sadly it’s the truth. I found something on Google’s video sharing site, YouTube, that annoyed me and I want to share it with you.

On YouTube, in order to watch music videos you have to watch the vast majority of those videos on a channel called VEVO, created by several major record labels and Google. Each music artist who has music under the ownership of one of the three major record labels (Universal, Sony, and EMI) has their music on YouTube. For example, music by Michael Jackson will be under the name “michaeljacksonVEVO”. Only Warner Music Group, which is one of the big four major record labels, has refused to allow their music on YouTube.

This VEVO service was introduced into YouTube back in November 2009 and officially launched a month later. Prior to this agreement, the music videos on YouTube, uploaded by the average user, were routinely targeted by the record labels who would send out legal requests to have their material removed from Google’s video sharing website. Eventually, they agreed that instead of fighting about having the material on the website, they could instead strike up a deal.

Google met with the record label executives and after several negotiations they came up with VEVO. VEVO would allow the labels to have their music on the site under their own official channel. It became a joint venture between Google and the labels. Google loved the fact now that since the music videos were on YouTube  and on official channels, they could start charging advertisers a lot more money to play their ads on those videos; prior to this agreement, advertisers where resistant to placing their ads on videos uploaded by the average user of the site.

This was great for Google because now they don’t have copyright owners handing them legal requests to take down their videos anymore and they can now make big money off these videos. Google and VEVO spilt revenue on their joint venture.

But in the eager desire to cash in, Google often forgets about ethics. As long as Google can make that extra dollar, it does not care how it was obtained. I will give you a few examples:

Under these official music videos, there are commercial ads bordering the videos. These ads let people know about other music or it promotes artists managed by the record labels who are involved with VEVO.

That Michael Jackson “Black or White” video screen capture that I took (scroll down to the bottom of this article to see it), has one of those ads bordering the actual video. It is advertising a new song by rap artists Jay-Z and Kanye West, which was uploaded to YouTube just this past week.

Now, imagine wanting to just relax and lift your spirit by listening to some old classics by the late Michael Jackson. His song “Black or White” is about looking past race and accepting all people for who they are. It’s a great song to listen to any time of the year, but especially on Black History Month.

So there you are on wanting to peacefully enjoy the video, but then right there in front of you in large letters is the N-word! I mean Google – are you kidding me?!?

Millions of people watch videos on YouTube and recently Google came out with new numbers saying it streams over a billion videos per day. This is a huge exposure and it also means the audiences comes from all walks of life, from all over the world, and are of all ages.

With this much exposure, why is Google so irresponsible with what it releases on its site? We know that in rap music the use of the n-word, gay slurs, and use of sexist terms to demean women is rampant. It is part of the culture of rap music and it’s extremely controversial. But at least there was still a clear escape from it. If you did not want to be exposed to that then you can get away from it and don’t have to listen to it.

You would not hear explicit music and the use of the n-word on mainstream broadcast television or on mainstream radio – so why does Google lack standards of its own? Why must people, young children, be exposed to the n-word and make it seem like it is a mainstream word that everybody uses or approves of?

If they did not think that the n-word would be offensive, then they would not have censored out two letters from the word to put on the site, as if it makes it any less offensive. They obviously knew it would offend people, then why have the word up at all? Disgusting.

This is also around a time when Google is developing a product called Google TV so that they can tap into the television market to gain even more advertising revenue. With such low standards and ethics from Google, let’s hope their project fails. The Google TV project has already lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ironically, just this past week, Cary Sherman, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America wrote an op-ed piece published in the New York Times harshly criticizing Google. Mr. Sherman condemned Google’s abuse of its platform on the Internet to use its websites to make political statements and he made a clear distinction between Google’s lack of standards and standards mainstream broadcast networks voluntarily adhere to:

“As it happens, the television networks that actively supported SOPA and PIPA didn’t take advantage of their broadcast credibility to press their case. That’s partly because “old media” draws a line between ‘news’ and ‘editorial’…Google [does not] recognize the ethical boundary between the neutral reporting of information and the presentation of editorial opinion as fact.”

Google has gotten in trouble before with the ads it places on its websites. Just last summer, the United States government forced Google to pay half a BILLION dollars to settle a controversial case surrounding the selling of illegal drugs. I will discuss this further in future posts.

I have also seen advertisements on Google’s YouTube homepage of half naked people wearing barely anything. Again, this is a site visited by all age groups. It seems to me that Google pays very little care for the children that access their sites daily. I have written on here before about the Google employee who was caught harassing and going through private information of 4 young children.

Google was also recently made to apologize to a concerned parent who complained to the Federal Trade Commission after Google asked for the social security numbers of young children to be submitted in order to be eligible for a “Doodle” contest.

Google also recently allowed children as young as 14, to participate in a program that would allow Google to access the computer information of those children. All activity those kids do on the internet would be sent to Google and, in exchange, they will be given a $5 dollars gift card every three months.

It’s obvious to me that Google lacks basic decency, standards, and ethics. Shame on you, Google! Shame – On – You!

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Australian Man Refused To Let Google Bully Him

 Google has become a very powerful company over the very short 14 years it’s existed (although it is now looking like it’s weakening due to strong competition from companies like Facebook). All this power can get to one’s head and make them think that they are invisible. Power can actually change people and it can change companies. Google was once an idealistic company that wanted to be different from all the other companies when it first came to the scene. Google did not want to follow traditional ways of doing things and they even had an unofficial motto, which was “don’t be evil”. However, Google is not the same company it was when it first started. It got more powerful, it’s loaded with cash (by selling your private information to advertisers), and its priorities changed.

With so much power, Google thinks it can bully the weaker man or woman into submission and arbitrarily punish or reward people. It is very difficult to fight such a powerful company and it can be intimidating if you do not know how to go about rectifying wrongful treatment by Google against you. However, one man in Australia was not going to let Google walk all over him. He fought the Goliath of a company and won!

As I explained in previous posts, Google has an AdSense program which lets website owners put Google advertisements on their website. The money that comes from people clicking on those ads is divided between Google and the website owner. Google makes billions of dollars from this program and the AdSense advertisements apparently cover 70% of the Internet.

In September 2011, Mark Bowyer’s two year old travel website, Rusty Compass, which advices people travelling to Asia, had his AdSense account terminated by Google. Google claimed that his website ”posed a risk of generating invalid activity”, which means that the clicks on the advertisements on his site were not legitimate. Google was accusing him of fraud and dishonestly. To make matters worse, after Google’s serious accusations and termination against Mr. Bowyer, Google would not let him appeal the decision nor did the company provide him any evidence they had against him.

Needless to say, Mr. Bowyer was devastated by Google’s hurtful actions against him and his small Internet company – he called it a ”reputational slur”. For four months he was left in the dark about what happened and Google would not do anything about it. Mr. Bowyer knew that Google was just going to keep ignoring him, and while most people would have just given up at this point, Mr. Bowyer was not going to let Google bully him. In December 2011 he filed a complaint with the New South Wales Fair Trading, which later investigated Google. After the investigation by Fair Trading, Google was forced to reinstate Mr. Bowyer’s account and offer him compensation. A Fair Trading spokeswoman said

 ”full redress was provided to the consumer following our intervention”.

Bravo to Mark Bowyer for not letting Google bully him around. This should serve as an example to others who are in similar situations as Mr. Bowyer, that you do not have to let Google treat you that way. What happened to Mr. Bowyer is not rare, it happens quite often. Google shows little to no respect to its advertising “partners” (as the Google likes to call them).

As long as Google can use you like some sort of parasite to latch onto your site to gain advertising money from you, that is all that really matters to them. They will suck you dry and when they are done with you they will dispose of you like you never had a relationship together.

Do not let Google victimize you. Speak out against the company if you have been wronged. You have got to speak up against abuse or it will never be fixed.

The story appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, you can read the article they published today by clicking here

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Google Employees Caught Vandalizing Open Source Map

People responsible for the OpenStreetMap project – which is an open source mapping project that lets people all over the world contribute and which also competes with Google Maps – say that there have been at least 17 accounts that can be directed back to Google IP addresses which accessed the project’s website at least 100,000 times over the past year.

In that time, the Google vandals have moved or deleted map details and changed the direction of traffic flow. Google claims it knew nothing about what happened and that after an investigation fired the employees.

To read about the blog post written by the project founder, Steve Coast, click here

The OpenStreetMap website can be accessed here

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Google Is Desperately Fighting To Stay On Top

When Google came to existence back in the late 1990s, it was a starkly different company in the way it operated. Google did things differently and better than anybody else by always focusing on what the user wanted. Google’s search service was not the only search engine when it came along. There were several others people could choose from: AltaVista, Highbot, Lycos, Excite, Infoseek, GoTo, Yahoo, etc.

However, there was something fundamentally different about Google that set it apart from all the other search engines. Google knew what people wanted, which was quick service and accurate results. They provided people with an uncluttered page with just the Google logo and the search box – that was it. All the other search engines were more interested in being “sticky portals”, which means that they wanted to bring people on their website and keep them there for as long as they could. Google did not want this – Google wanted to give people their search results quickly and send them off to their destination quickly. Simplicity and reliability was always at the core of their service.

Google also stood out because they never let advertising get in the way. While the other search engines were letting big companies buy their way to the top of search results, Google refused to do this. Google saw this as deceiving the public and they didn’t want advertising to get in the way of the science of search results.

When Google decided to place advertisements on their website, it was always clearly labelled as such and was placed to the right of the screen. This quick, clean, simple, and reliable service eventually won over people and those countless other search engines that proceeded Google are now gone or forgotten.

This is what CEO, and one of the founders of Google, Larry Page said in a 2004 interview he did with Playboy Magazine:

“That’s the problem. Most portals show their own content above content elsewhere on the web. We feel that’s a conflict of interest, analogous to taking money for search results. Their search engine doesn’t necessarily provide the best results; it provides the portal’s results. Google conscientiously tries to stay away from that. We want to get you out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible. It’s a very different model.”

This of course was back when Google still had some morals, ethics, and standards that it was holding itself to. Google changed from what it used to be and has become a really large company that is fighting hard to stay relevant and on top. Now, it seems like Google will do anything to sabotage and step on any company that threatens its number one spot.

Well guess what happened – Facebook came along and challenged Google than ever before. Since Google relies heavily on advertisers to keep it rich and on the top, it means that if those advertisers decide to leave Google, for all intents and purposes Google is doomed.

In a desperate attempt to challenge Facebook’s dominance in the social media, Google launched what is now known as “Google Plus” or “Google +”. This Google Plus is supposed to be the saviour of Google and is supposed to be an extension of Google itself. No longer is Google just a website that quickly gives users their results and sends them off, Google has become that sticky portal that wants to keep users on their website so that they can collect as much personal information from you as possible to give to advertisers.

Google was getting really worried that websites like Facebook and Twitter were closing off the Internet. Facebook and Twitter are what is called “walled gardens”, which are websites that do not allow search engine crawlers to take their information. Facebook and Twitter have deliberately walled off Google from seeing all the activity its users are doing on their websites. This is basically death for Google because it relies on the openness of information on the Internet. If Google cannot get access into that information then they become more and more irrelevant.

So Google develops a knock-off version of Facebook, which looks almost identical to Facebook but worse. Google’s desperation does not stop here – I will elaborate on this in my next posts.

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