Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Apr 2012 22:22 UTC
Google Interesting, if not inherently flawed, article by Farhad Manjoo. "Honan might be right that Google has violated its own definition of evil, but doesn't it matter that every one of its rivals also routinely violates Google's definition of evil?" I say flawed, because I value promises more than anything. Google has done things recently that break their initial promise. That sucks - there's no way around it. I do love Gruber's take, though: "It's not that Google is evil. It's that they're hypocrites. That's the difference between Google and its competitors." In other words, it's perfectly fine to be an evil scumbag company, as long as you're not claiming you're not. That's a rather... Warped view on morality.
Order by: Score:
Well...
by CapEnt on Wed 4th Apr 2012 22:40 UTC
CapEnt
Member since:
2005-12-18

Its hard not to be evil when you grow too much. You will end up doing small amounts of evil even with the best intentions. The promise that Google made was doomed to be broken.

On the other hand, there is some companies out there who apparently try his best to create a new low in corporate world.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Well...
by WorknMan on Thu 5th Apr 2012 00:17 UTC in reply to "Well..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Its hard not to be evil when you grow too much. You will end up doing small amounts of evil even with the best intentions. The promise that Google made was doomed to be broken.


This is true. As long as you're a publicly traded company, you can only not be evil for so long, before you have the shareholders on your ass. If it comes down to a choice of being evil or not making more money, guess which one the shareholders are going to demand?

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Well...
by moondevil on Thu 5th Apr 2012 08:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Well..."
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

This is quite true.

Somehow people fail to understand that in a capitalist world there are no good or bad companies.

A good company is one that makes the shareholders happy, that is it.

At the end of the day what counts is the quarter report.

A company is only nice for the customers to the extent that happy customers means more money. That is all.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Well...
by UglyKidBill on Thu 5th Apr 2012 14:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Well..."
UglyKidBill Member since:
2005-07-27

This is quite true.

Somehow people fail to understand that in a capitalist world there are no good or bad companies.

A good company is one that makes the shareholders happy, that is it.

At the end of the day what counts is the quarter report.

A company is only nice for the customers to the extent that happy customers means more money. That is all.


That is "a good company for the shareholders", but people has every right to long for companies that are also "good for Society" (or at least not bad for it).
When companies are clearly bad for society there should be a government ruling to create limits and balance.

This might be utopic nowadays, but letting our culture absorb this concept that the companies have the right to do anything they please in the name of (their) profit takes us in the wrong direction.

Obviously companies are not good or bad in the sense that they are not living, willing entities, but they are driven by good or bad people taking good or bad decisions, and those decisions include not only economic and commercial choices, but also moral and ethical ones.

Capitalism is what we as a society make it or allow it to become.

OTOH, reallity is as you describe it and we´re doomed already....

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Well...
by moondevil on Thu 5th Apr 2012 16:42 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Well..."
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

I share your view, but I fear it might not happen in our lifetime, sadly.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Well...
by TemporalBeing on Thu 5th Apr 2012 19:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Well..."
TemporalBeing Member since:
2007-08-22

This is quite true.

Somehow people fail to understand that in a capitalist world there are no good or bad companies.

A good company is one that makes the shareholders happy, that is it. At the end of the day what counts is the quarter report.


Well, that partly depends on how the stock is setup; but yes - your are right when taking the POV from the perspective of the shareholders which all too many CEOs think they are laden to.

Some CEOs can and do refuse that outlook and tell the shareholders that it's not about the quarterly or year to year, it's about the long term, and ultimately what is good for the companies long term health is good for them. Warren Buffet is one such executive; so you can't say it isn't more profitable.

A company is only nice for the customers to the extent that happy customers means more money. That is all.


Happy customers will nearly always mean more money - until you go to giving them more than you take in, in which case they'll be happy at your expense. The trick is to find the balance.

Ultimately, no matter how many share holders you have, or what your stock price is, etc - a company is nothing without its customers. It lives only because of its customers; though it can die by either customers, management. or shareholders (really management).

Reply Score: 2

They are good enough for me
by reduz on Wed 4th Apr 2012 23:21 UTC
reduz
Member since:
2006-02-25

The deal is by far the best online services, a lot of investment in open formats, open APIs and open source and a lot of investment in research in exchange of harvesting your data of your choice for analytics and targeted ADs. If you specifically don't want Google to know something you just don't use it for that.

Reply Score: 12

says the one..
by fran on Wed 4th Apr 2012 23:21 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

Gruber calling others hypocrites.
The preoccupation on whether Google is evil or not is usually in the realm of iCultists and not sensible people.
Who really hold a company true to it's slogan every time and all the time is either incredibly naive or carry a vendetta.

Edited 2012-04-04 23:28 UTC

Reply Score: 7

RE: says the one..
by dsmogor on Thu 5th Apr 2012 11:17 UTC in reply to "says the one.."
dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

The most common rationalization of evil acts is to drown others in the same mud you're in.

Reply Score: 2

RE: says the one..
by Radio on Thu 5th Apr 2012 11:51 UTC in reply to "says the one.."
Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

And one of the examples where he calls google "hypocritical" is the fact that after denouncing the abuse of patents against Android, they DARE get some patents and use them to defend themselves.

How dare they! Those filthy hypocrites!

Reply Score: 4

RE: says the one..
by MollyC on Thu 5th Apr 2012 18:31 UTC in reply to "says the one.."
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

To be fair, it was Google themselves (and their fanboys) that HEAVILY promoted that slogan, and it should be noted that the slogan was double-edged. It wasn't just a slogan about Google, it was a slogan about their competitors. "We're not evil, our compeitors are." When you're implicitly declaring your competition to be evil, and then do "evil" yourself, then you deserve to be called out on it.

I think the whole "evil" meme is stupid to begin with. Generally speaking, the only corporations I consider to be "evil" are those that gratuitously pollute the environment and those that use abusive labor practices. The rest of the stuff (patent litigation, antitrust accusations, etc), I don't consider "evil", just run-of-the-mill capitalist activity, unsavory though some of that activity may be (on second thought, price-fixing I think crosses the line between unsavory and "evil", so I'll add that to the "evil" category too hehe).

Edited 2012-04-05 18:37 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: says the one..
by fran on Thu 5th Apr 2012 18:49 UTC in reply to "RE: says the one.."
fran Member since:
2010-08-06

To be fair, it was Google themselves (and their fanboys) that HEAVILY promoted that slogan, and it should be noted that the slogan was double-edged. It wasn't just a slogan about Google, it was a slogan about their competitors. "We're not evil, our compeitors are." When you're implicitly declaring your competition to be evil, and then do "evil" yourself, then you deserve to be called out on it.

I think the whole "evil" meme is stupid to begin with. Generally speaking, the only corporations I consider to be "evil" are those that gratuitously pollute the environment and those that use abusive labor practices. The rest of the stuff (patent litigation, antitrust accusations, etc), I don't consider "evil", just run-of-the-mill capitalist activity, unsavory though some of that activity may be (on second thought, price-fixing I think crosses the line between unsavory and "evil", so I'll add that to the "evil" category too hehe).


The camps that accuse Google of being Cavalier about user info is wrong. Google requires warrant for access to your info.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/03/fbi-stumped-by-pimp...

And any iphone/apple or any browser or search engine user that thinks he/her's info is somehow more safe because he is not using Google is mistaken.
This issue is not a technology issue. It is a civil rights issue. This post show what i mean about this being a platform agnostic issue.
http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2012/04/03/how-california-cops-get...

Edited 2012-04-05 18:55 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: says the one..
by MollyC on Thu 5th Apr 2012 22:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: says the one.."
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

Didn't Google recently get caught "hacking" Safari's browser such that even if the user turned off cookies or tracking or whatever, Google still hacked some way to do tracking in Safari? (Sorry, I forget the details of the story.) And then it turned out they did similar with IE?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: says the one..
by fran on Thu 5th Apr 2012 23:08 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: says the one.."
fran Member since:
2010-08-06

Yip, that's true. The accusation from the companies is a bit hypocritical though.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/8464122/Apple-iPhone-tr...

Edited 2012-04-05 23:18 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Thom, are you evil?
by ozonehole on Thu 5th Apr 2012 01:09 UTC
ozonehole
Member since:
2006-01-07

Thom, I'm normally a big supporter of what you write, but I think you're barking up the wrong tree here. Google has yet to do anything that particularly offends me. No, they aren't perfect, but it would be rather hard to not (for example) be a search engine company dependent on advertising and not somehow violate people's privacy. Do you have any advice to Google on what they should be doing differently (advice that wouldn't bankrupt them)?

Google has done some great things for open source. Financing Mozilla and Chrome, licensing free codecs via Youtube, Android, the Summer of Code, their support for open standards, etc.

And if you want to talk about hypocrisy, I'm afraid you aren't totally innocent there. You've railed against the very obnoxious practices of Microsoft and Apple (ie software patents, endless lawsuits, closed standards, DRM, high prices) and I've been in full agreement with you there, yet you continue to buy products from both Microsoft and Apple. Remember that old adage about the pot calling the kettle "black."

I've personally made sure that I don't buy from either MS or Apple...with the exception that I couldn't buy a laptop recently that didn't have Windows on it (though I deleted it as soon as I got the machine home). I don't even own an Android phone because I don't want to give any money to Microsoft (though their extortion "license" fees that Android users have to pay). I've forgone the whole smart phone revolution so far, in part for this reason.

But yes, I've been taxed by Microsoft, more than once - it pains me. Does it make me a hypocrite? Am I evil too?

Edited 2012-04-05 01:21 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: Thom, are you evil?
by galvanash on Thu 5th Apr 2012 02:20 UTC in reply to "Thom, are you evil?"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

No, they aren't perfect, but it would be rather hard to not (for example) be a search engine company dependent on advertising and not somehow violate people's privacy.


Violating someone's privacy without consent is generally not appreciated - i.e. it pisses people off. I'm not talking about illegal or immoral (although both of those can apply depending on circumstances), just saying is that I think what the general public wants is to simply know how their data is being used, and the ability to opt out if they don't like it.

They want this process to be completely transparent - but that is frankly not a realistic goal. No one wants to spend almost all their time clicking on "I agree" buttons explaing how their data is used every time they perform an online actively that might result in someone using that information in ever changing ways. Their choices would be constantly invalidated by technology changes, policy changes, etc. etc. So what we have is the sort of "blanket" acknowledgements and opt out that Google provides - and those tend to result in occasional surprises.

I think Google for the most part (at least more than most companies in their industry) seems to try facilitate customer information use as transparently as is practical. It isn't perfect, because frankly no matter how transparent you make it is is complicated and some people, at least some of the time, will end up being surprised by how their data/demographics is being used (and get pissed off).

Google has done some great things for open source. Financing Mozilla and Chrome, licensing free codecs via Youtube, Android, the Summer of Code, their support for open standards, etc.


I try not take those kind of things into account - i.e. acts of "good". They financed Mozilla out of self interest. They developed Chrome out of self interest. Webm - self interest. Open Source - self interest. Etc. etc. Companies don't do things that are against their self interest...

That said - I do appreciate that they rarely seem to do things purely out of self interest. Their entire business model is about helping others to one degree or another - they are a company that provides services and products primarily to help businesses. They try to figure out business models that allow them to profit from the business world by providing services to the general public at little or no cost. They seem willing and eager to work with other companies (or open source projects) to achieve their goals. I wouldn't say they do no evil, but they sure as hell seem to try and avoid it more than most...

Reply Score: 5

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I'd make two comment:

People want to know how there information is being used and have the ability to "opt in" to these systems.

Opt Out was chosen to maximize the information Google collects and effort the user goes through to be excluded from that data collection. It is to Google's benefit by default. An Opt In system would be proper if the user was the concern. User's are not tricked into giving up data (obscured opt-out extra steps) but Google only gets data from users who expressly allow it.

As long as they operate opt-out survelance systems...


I'd also suggest reconsidering self-interest related to FOSS. All FOSS is developed out of self interst. Microsoft has contributed code to the kernel so it runs better inside MS virtualization and that's perfectly fine; everyone contributes out of self interest. Google premotes FOSS development due to self interst; say it isn't so. The important part to consider is that they are contributing at all and we have the resulting programs because of the self interest of all the developers who contributed to the project.

Reply Score: 2

mantrik00
Member since:
2011-07-06

Google's Official Philosophy document "Ten things" has no mention of "Don't Be Evil". Perhaps, it is the media that keeps reinforcing that notion which Google appears to have abandoned and moved on. It is silly to be persecuting Google on its fabled motto which does not even appear on its official philosophy page.

The idea of evil should be same for all corporations. May be the best way to define it contextually is to determine if a firm’s practice is in contravention of the legal frameworks in which it operates.

Reply Score: 4

dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

As long as they benefit from that perception PRwise the public has every right to have them accountable.

Reply Score: 2

Boom
by Soulbender on Thu 5th Apr 2012 05:14 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

"It's not that Google is evil. It's that they're hypocrites. That's the difference between Google and its competitors."


The irony, it's simply too much. It might cause the universe to implode.

Reply Score: 5

best in the business
by netpython on Thu 5th Apr 2012 05:28 UTC
netpython
Member since:
2005-07-06

Google is hands down the best search engine on the planet. Without google searching for (exotic) error messages would definitely be more cumbersome.

The problem is when something is used so much and is taken for granted it becomes part of the furniture.

Edited 2012-04-05 05:29 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: best in the business
by kwan_e on Thu 5th Apr 2012 16:39 UTC in reply to "best in the business"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Google is hands down the best search engine on the planet. Without google searching for (exotic) error messages would definitely be more cumbersome.

The problem is when something is used so much and is taken for granted it becomes part of the furniture.


Except the weird thing about Google is that it proves that the internet requires such a service as part of the furniture.

Reply Score: 2

D'oh
by marcp on Thu 5th Apr 2012 09:17 UTC
marcp
Member since:
2007-11-23

Google is pretty damn bad and they had already shown it.

Apart from that, we should take catchphrases like "don't be evil" with a grain of salt.
Big corps tend to do bad things, even if they say otherwise. It is just an inherent nature of multinational, global, huge organisations. You can't avoid that, so you need to watch their hands and make sure that you always have the other way to go for yourself.

Personally I don't use Google/products at all. I don't even use Youtube. I simply cut the whole "Google" crap out of my internal network. Too many weird stuff from Google tries to invade my privacy.

Reply Score: 1

Re:
by kurkosdr on Thu 5th Apr 2012 11:11 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

Was there a period when Google was NOT evil? They 've been data mining users since day 1. And no, the fact it is mentioned in the privacy policy doesn't act as a waiver.

I know, "if you don't like it, don't use it", but the same can be applied to DRM, region lockout etc and other evil things that Apple, MS and Sony are practicing. If you don't like those, don't buy the product. Does this make DRM and Region lockout non evil? Of course not. Same for data mining.

Unless of course you don't consider data mining the users "evil". This is the problem with this word, there is no clear definition.

Edited 2012-04-05 11:16 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Re:
by Radio on Thu 5th Apr 2012 11:48 UTC in reply to "Re:"
Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

Until now, Google has been pretty responsible with my personnal data: they haven't leaked it like Facebook, and they haven't sold it to third parties (by which I mean not the sales pitch "give us your ad and we will show it to relevant targets" but the sales pitch "here is a database of customers, how much do you want to pay to have it for yourself?" which is common in retail). They act like a proxy, in a way.

Of course, you have to trust your proxy...

Reply Score: 3

BallmerKnowsBest
Member since:
2008-06-02

I know this will come as a shock to many, but I've discovered the damning fact that Google is (gasp) an advertising company. Now this next bit may be hard to follow, but that also means that Google makes most of their revenue from advertising (GASP).

Now I'm not saying advertising is inherently EVIL and that Google must also be EVIL by association, because even I realize how stupid it would sound if I stated that outright. So instead I'll just repeat the same details over and over again with as much handwaving as possible, and maybe that will trick people into thinking I've made an actual point.

BTW, have I mentioned that Google is an ADVERTISING COMPANY?!?!?

(There, Tony - now you don't have to repost the same tirade that you've posted on nearly every Google-related article here in the past 6 months. You're welcome.)

Reply Score: 4

The partial truth
by kwan_e on Thu 5th Apr 2012 16:36 UTC
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

Let's face it, at least Google tries to stick to principles of openness and fair play as much as it is possible for a publicly traded company to do. Almost every other company has shrugged shoulders and asked "what's the point?"

We shouldn't excuse Google's bad points, but we can't use Google's bad points to excuse every other company's worse points.

We should hold companies to Google's standard, and we should continually push Google to achieve higher standards.

Reply Score: 3

the good, old investment companies...
by dionicio on Thu 5th Apr 2012 19:57 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

Let's not forget that
the first investment companies
had the purpose
of going abroad and bring back
taxes, treasures, slaves
and the heads of
security 'annoyances'.

It's not the commercial society figure
which is wrong.

It is the dependence of States
-unable to self-organize and predate
on lesser and more open figures-
for taxes and financing,
which is wrong.

In the best scenarios
we have 'co-managed' States.

In the worst ones
we have 'puppet' States.

Edited 2012-04-05 20:12 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Spin
by testman on Fri 6th Apr 2012 23:34 UTC
testman
Member since:
2007-10-15

I do love Gruber's take, though: "It's not that Google is evil. It's that they're hypocrites. That's the difference between Google and its competitors." In other words, it's perfectly fine to be an evil scumbag company, as long as you're not claiming you're not. That's a rather... Warped view on morality.

Normally you are quick to claim that all corporations are "evil" by nature. Don't you think it's hypocritical when one of them to claims that they are not? That's what Gruber is arguing here; not that the behaviour is any way justified of other corporations, but that the difference between them and Google has nothing to do with ethics or morality, it is simple hypocrisy.

You're as guilty of spin as Gruber is.

Reply Score: 2

So basically...
by Lennie on Sat 7th Apr 2012 00:33 UTC
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

So basically people are not smart enough to understand what they are losing by using Apple's closed environment and submitting all the private information to Facebook.

And to stay relevant Google has to come up with an answer, which means they'll have to be (more) evil to be able to compete.

Well, that sucks.

Edited 2012-04-07 00:33 UTC

Reply Score: 2