When Google went public a year ago, it famously said in the papers accompanying its offering that its motto would be “Don’t do evil.”
Here is a company, it publicly proclaimed, that will not only create great technology and deliver big profits to investors, but will do so with a sense of morality and fair play all too often missing from the business world.
How times have changed.
In fact, they’ve changed so much that a headline in the New York Times shouts ” Relax, Bill Gates; It’s Google’s Turn as the Villain.” The article cites a widespread feeling throughout Silicon Valley and beyond that Google has gotten arrogant and in its pursuit of world domination has started to do serious harm to competitors and the technology landscape.
To a certain extent, the criticism goes along with the territory — get too big and successful and the nay-sayers inevitably come out.
But there’s also a disturbing truth at work here. Google has gotten arrogant, and the best example is a little-reported incident in mid-July. CNet ran an article warning that Google has amassed enormous amounts of private information about people. And to show how easily Google can be used to pry into people’s private lives, it used Google searches to publish personal information about Google CEO Eric Schmidt, including his salary, neighborhood, his hobbies and his political donations.
Google was not amused, and promptly said it would refuse to talk to any CNet reporters for a year — in essence blackballing CNet.
Imagine if Microsoft had done the same thing — the outcry would be tremendous. But with Google, the act was met by silence, because of all the good will the company has generated.
There are other disturbing signs of arrogance as well. The Times article reported that Google fired am employee after he had joked in his blog that the on-site gym, free meals and other perks Google provides are only offered so that employees would work longer hours without complaining.
So it’s clear that Google is guilty of arrogance and hubris. But has it crossed the line into evil? Let me know what you think, below.
Has Google become evil? Let me know what you think.