Gizmodo has an extensive writeup titled The Case Against Google. In one of the sections it asks (and answers), “What is evil?”.
Starting with Josh McHugh’s January 2003 story about Google as a launchingpad, the article says “It identifies all the major problems Google faced then, which are still, largely, the problems it faces today. But it does something else, too. It pins the company down on what, exactly, evil is.” So what is it?:
Google’s code of conduct can be boiled down to a mere three words: Don’t be evil.
Very Star Wars. But what does it mean?
“Evil,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “is what Sergey says is evil.”
As a private company, Google has one master: users. As a public company, there are shareholders to worry about. And more than happy users, shareholders want ever-greater profits.
If Brin’s code of good and evil permits the company to negotiate with sovereign governments and allows for some legal meddling from unpopular religions, there is no wiggle room—no gray area whatsoever—when it comes to those who attempt to subvert the power of Google to their own commercial ends. One thing Brin is sure of: On the side of evil lies trickery.
I ask Brin to imagine, for a moment, running his company’s evil twin, a sort of anti-Google. “We would be doing things like having advertising that wasn’t marked as being paid for. Stuff that violates the trust of the users,” he says, describing a site that sounds not unlike the pay-for-placement search site Overture. “Say someone came looking for breast cancer information and didn’t know that some listings were paid for with money from drug companies. We’d be endangering people’s health.”
The highlighted passages are then responded to.
In the past year—and especially the past six months—Google has unquestionably and to an unprecedented extent violated its users’ trust. And of course the great irony is that the subversion of Google’s power, the ultimate trickery, came not from an external force, but Google itself.
Mat Honan, the author of the piece, says that Google has spent much of 2011 and 2012 getting called out for all kinds of nasty brutish behavior. Here are a few “small but telling”, as Honan puts it, examples of that trickery: