Is Google a monster?

On Poynter emedia tidbits on which I am a fellow contributor, the big question is asked of the mega success story, Google: “Can someone please step up and say we’re facing a monster?”

It goes on, referring to the Google Youtube acquisition: “As Google continues to grow, it has shown some stripes that clash with its “don’t be evil” mantra. The idea that Google will leave YouTube intact is possibly wishful thinking on the part of loyal users.”

Vincent Maher, who wrote the timely piece, reminds us of Google’s actions in China that effectively endorsed censorship and now recently in Belgium, where Google scoffed at legitimate copyright claims.

The column controversially says that “Google should be on every media company’s hitlist” and that the “cultural impact” of the power that Google has amassed is to “stifle competition and innovation” — the very things Google says it stands for.

A little alarmist, don’t you think? Well. Yes and no.

It’s always fun to bash success stories. Specially when they have become big and dominant as a result of that success. Google has done well because it is a brilliant and innovative offering firstly, not because it is a lawless, power-crazed company — which it obviously isn’t.

Thanks to Google I now can find things on the web, and quickly. The company has also single-handedly revolutionised online advertising and search through its contextual search models such as adsense and adwords. This has put power into the people’s hands, the blogger’s hands — allowed ordinary people other than big media to participate in the online advertising game. This is a revolution: The entire model of advertising has changed. For the better.

Competition will come. There isn’t any to speak of (besides Yahoo! maybe) because Google is the prime innovator and is so far ahead of its competitors. But the contextual search model is a model that many have emulated and are emulating (thanks to Google who either invented or popularised it), including big guns like Yahoo and many smaller players that have set up similar, niche advertising models in many countries based on the Google model.

I can understand why there is this criticism of Google, but I am not entirely sure it’s justified.

Matthew Buckland: Publisher


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.