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Google – Too Much Power?

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If information is power, is there such a thing as too much power or too much knowledge?

I recently wondered that after listening to an NPR program on Google. It contained information that was both fascinating and infuriating.

This was the first time – except for during the recent news of a Goodle exec snubbing CNET and blackballing its reporters – that I really got mad at Google. But if some of what is being suggested is true, that Google is not correcting errors its links point to (even if it means a person is found not guilty of a crime or a listing for women’s shelter is listed), then there’s a problem.

Mel writes a great piece on the topic.

I listened the program a few hours after hearing something disturbing at Borders: Two teens reading a book on how to do effective pranks.

Prank #1 – Write something false on a Web page and then watch Google mention it and smear the person’s name.

Or #2 – Make up something about an enemy then claim that enemy wrote it and it’s a copyright violation and watch the person get in trouble with the government.

It’s authors of books like these – which the boys bought, declaring it “brilliant!” – that drive me crazy and make life on the Net harder for everyone else.


It’s not like Google doesn’t have other problems on its plate, like this copyright issue I wrote about here.

Perhaps The Onion – in one of their classic satire pieces – said it best:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—Executives at Google, the rapidly growing online-search company that promises to “organize the world’s information,” announced Monday the latest step in their expansion effort: a far-reaching plan to destroy all the information it is unable to index.

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.
  • Cerulean

    I’m afraid that something happened with they went public. Did they bring in “professional” executives? Now they’re hiring people from Microsoft, which seems like a sign of the apocalypse. Why would anyone want to hire someone away from Microsoft? Why not RUN away from them screaming, instead? Well if Google is turning into Microsoft then someone out there is turning into Google.

  • Scott Butki

    That is a good way of looking at it – perhaps an optimistic way: That if they are becoming more like Microsoft that somewhere a new Google-like company is coming up the ranks.

    I sure hope so.

    I liked Google when it was young and growing but something does seem to happen when companies like this go from the hot new startup to the big company stampeding their way around the world.

    I hope they get their bearings back.

  • Scott Butki

    Oh and this just in:

    Reason #8,888 to be worried about Google getting too big for its respective britches: They are now holding conferences which they insist on being private and off the record despite the fact they make their millions out of collecting information, which some others would rather remain private.< One blogger explains the situation here..

    The Google FAQ  for the event says
        All speeches and discussions at Zeitgeist are off the record. To ensure that our presenters and attendees can speak openly, no press coverage or blogging is permitted.

  • Al Barger

    Who decides if Google has too much power? They are, as it were, democratically elected every second of the day. Consumers are voting with their clicks and dollars and whatnot.

    Plus, there’s a recall election on their power every day. They start cheesing off their customers, they’ll be gone in a heartbeat.

    “Why would anyone want to hire someone away from Microsoft?” Perhaps because Microsoft is the most successful company in the history of computers.

    Also, the pranksters in the bookstore are totally, completely unrelated to anything to do with Google.

  • WTF

    Search engines are great. We all agree on that, and they are valuable. But nothing compares to a subscription service. An EBSCO Host for example get you into college databases. But you pay for it.

    It’s too bad the internet and the information prospects that are truely out there aren’t truely available unless a cost is attached.

  • Liberal

    Here’s a Google experiment for you all:

    Go to Google.

    Type in “failure”

    Click on “I’m feeling lucky.”

  • Scott Butki

    Well, that just shows how the rankings can be manipulated which is a whole separate issue.

    I want to believe Google is doing responsible things with the data it is collecting but each time they make another move that rubs me wrong (be it getting mad when the CNET reporter collects data about the Google top exect or it trying to have off-the-record meetings) I get a little more nervous that they’re not going to out-Microsoft Microsoft, i.e. find ways to make up either too dependent on them with future decisions and purchases or regret saying things we never should have said on the Net.

  • Al Barger

    Look, if YOU choose to publish things on the world wide web and then they come back to bite you in the ass, don’t blame Google.

  • Liberal

    “Well, that just shows how the rankings can be manipulated which is a whole separate issue.”

    I don’t think the rankings were manipulated. I think someone at Google has a sense of humor.

  • Scott Butki

    Oh I think they were manipulated. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve seen groups pointing out that you see some anti-Bush message via google.

    The pranksters at Borders are related to Google and all search engines in that people are figuring out new ways to use search engines to get people in trouble, do pranks (i.e. Bush loser thing above) and information that one wouldn’t expect to be available via Google – i.e. a list of women’s shelters private locations – is now online.

    I know better than to write anything googleable but that doesn’t mean others do.

    Is it Google’s fault that these things are changing? No.
    But should we be concerned about what they’re doing with this information, especially when they are not responsive to requests to take down links to false info? I think so.

  • Scott Butki

    here- at today’s posting about phone numbers – is
    an example of what I’m talking about. A Person types in a phone number in here and if it was a private number it could then be googleable.

  • Bob A. Booey

    Here’s an idea for all you young entrepreneurs out there. What are the two biggest commercial forces on the Internet? Porn and Google, in that order.

    So someone should make a porn-only version of Google and Google should make a search engine that filters out all the porn spam that hides unrelated search terms in sites advertising porn.

    There ya go. Feel free to make millions with my idea.

    That is all.

  • Scott Butki

    Interesting idea.
    Are you hoping for royalties for your idea?

  • Bob A. Booey

    No, just make me a consultant with an exorbitant flat salary in your new start-up, preferably in the porn side of the business and we’re straight.

    That is all.

  • Scott Butki
  • Scott Butki

    And more on Google bombing and yes they do manipulate the


  • Scott Butki

    There’s a good update on this situation today in the Washington Post