Last month, another distasteful use of your personal information by Google came to light: The company now will attach your name and likeness to advertisements delivered across its products without your permission. Including pornsites that you were silly enough to look at while you were logged in to your GMail account. You too can now have your smiling Google+ photo and real name right next to the rich text snippet for some triple anal fisting site you accidentally visited from a deceptive google link. OUCH!
As happens every time the search giant does something scary, evil or stupid, Google’s plan to turn its users into unwitting endorsers has inspired a new round of jabs at Google’s famous slogan “Don’t be evil.” While Google has deemphasized the motto over time, it remains prominent in the company’s corporate code of conduct, and, as a cornerstone of its 2004 Founder’s IPO Letter, the motto has become an inescapable component of the company’s legacy.
Famous though the slogan might be, its meaning has never been clear. In the 2004 IPO letter, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin clarify that Google will be “a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.” But what counts as “good things,” and who constitutes “the world?” The slogan’s significance has likely changed over time, but today it seems clear that we’re misunderstanding what “evil” means to the company. For today’s Google, evil isn’t tied to malevolence or moral corruption, the customary senses of the term. Rather, it’s better to understand Google’s sense of evil as the disruption of its brand of (computational) progress.
Of course, Google doesn’t say so in as many words; the company never defines “evil” directly.
But, now that over the past years Google has gone from a nice, offbeat little company (with a really nice employee vegan-friendly cafeteria) that simply wants to make our lives better, to what, for lack of a better way to describe it, “A New World Order”, we seem to be seeing more and more evil coming down the cyper-pike just about weekly now.
Want free, stolen porn? Just hop on Google, grab your dick and double click and a whole world of stolen porn on Tubes, Torrents and File Sharing sites are presented to you (after the first 3 pages of Wikipedia, Redbook and Ladies Home Journal results), and just before the traditional legitimate adult industry websites (read paysites) even come up. Same goes for pirated software. Google search “Photoshop” and after the obligatory Wikipedia articles, the first one that comes up are links to Youtube videos that show you, step by step, how to go steal a copy of it from a torrent, and then how to disable its security so it can’t “call home” for detection by Adobe as being on your computer.
But, how are they making money from promoting piracy, other than becoming a first-stop destination for anyone looking for just about anything, and the more you go there, the more data they harvest about your wants, needs and desires?
Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman — a product of Harvard’s college, law school, and economics PhD program — believes that Google has done a nice job of rope-a-doping the legal community that has been trying to hold it accountable. In his report, he says,
“Last week, Google’s 10-Q disclosed a $500 million charge “in connection with a potential resolution of an investigation by the US Department of Justice into the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers.” Google initially declined to say more, but a Wall Street Journal report revealed that the charge resulted from Google’s sale of advertising to online pharmacies that break US laws.
While Google has certainly profited from selling advertisements to rogue pharmacies, that’s just one of many areas where Google sells unlawful advertisements. Here are six other areas where I’ve also seen widespread unlawful AdWords advertisements:
- Advertisements charging for something that’s actually free. I’ve documented scores of AdWords advertisements that attempt to trick users into paying for software that’s widely available for free — charging for RealPlayer, Skype, WinZip, and more.
- Advertisements promising “free” service but actually imposing a charge. I have also flagged dozens of advertisements promising “100% complimentary” “free” “no obligation” service that actually comes with a monthly charge, typically $9.99/month or more. Promising “free” ringtones, these services rarely ask users for their credit card numbers. Instead, they post charges straight onto users’ mobile phone bills — combining carrier-direct billing with deceptive advertising claims in order to strengthen the illusion of “free” service.
- Copyright infringement – advertisements touting tools for infringing audio and video downloads. For example, media companies uncovered Google selling advertisements to various download sites, typically folks charging for Bittorrent clients. These programs helped users download movies without permission from the corresponding rights-holders, which is a double-whammy to copyright holders: Not only did labels, studios, artists, and filmmakers get no share of users’ payments, but users’ payments flowed to those making tools to facilitate infringement.
- Copyright infringement – advertisements touting counterfeit software. For example, Rosetta Stone in six months notified Google of more than 200 instances in which AdWords advertisers offered counterfeit Rosetta Stone software.
- Advertisements for programs that bundle spyware/adware. At the peak of the spyware and adware mess a few years ago, distributors of unsavory software used AdWords to distribute their wares. For example, a user searching for “screensavers” would receive a mix of advertisements — some promoting software that worked as advertised; others bundling screensavers with advertising and/or tracking software, with or without disclosure.
- Mortgage modification offers. Consumers seeking mortgage modifications often receive AdWords advertisements making deceptive claims. A recent Consumer Watchdog study found AdWords advertisers falsely claiming to be affiliated with the US government, requiring consumers to buy credit reports before receiving advice or help (yielding immediate referral fees to the corresponding sites), and even presenting fake certification logos. One prominent AdWords advertiser had previously faced FTC litigation for telemarketing fraud, while another faced FTC litigation for falsely presenting itself as affiliated with the US government. Other advertisers suffer unsatisfactory BBB ratings, and some advertisers falsely claim to have 501(c)(3) non-profit status.
In a related story this week, CNN Money jumped on the fashionable bandwagon, blaming what they decry as the meldown of corporate tech infrastructure on….. You Guess It! PORN!
In REALLY BIG HEADLINE FONTS, CNN announced:
Want to stop nasty worms from spreading on corporate networks? It would help if bosses stopped going to porn sites.
According to a recent survey by software firm ThreatTrack Security, 40% of tech support employees admit they’ve had to clean an executive’s corporate device after the boss visited an infected porn website.The survey, conducted in October, shows that while it’s generally gotten easier for companies to defend themselves from outside attacks, bosses’ bad habits make it difficult to keep up. Here are some other mistakes executives make:
- 56% got malware from clicking on a bad link or getting duped by a fake “phishing” email.
- 47% attached an infected device, like a thumb drive or smartphone, to their PC.
- 45% got a virus when they let a family member use a company computer.
- 33% installed a malicious app on their company device.
Ummm… Excuse Me, CNN? The four bullet points you list have nothing to do with porn! It’s a well documented fact that the vast majority of viruses and malware come not from pornsites, but high traffic mainstream ones. Tech Republic and Cisco published some interesting findings on this. Read it and please then shut up about the “porn problem”.
We more or less expect this sort of shoddy Yellow Journalism from Fox, and most recently Time Magazine, but come on! CNN was sort of the last vestige of liberal and more-or-less accurate, inflammatory mainstream media. It’s almost time to pull the plug, only read The New Yorker, listen to National Public Radio and get a new rolodex for all of my data archiving needs.
As part of my job at a porn company, I probably visit several hundred porn sites per week to ferret out our movies that have been stolen and are being promoted by Google links. Never ONCE in 12 years have I ever gotten a virus. But then, I know enough not to download shit from the internet, porn or not! Viral payloads typically come with special offers for ringtones, screensavers, free software and apps to database your DVD collection on your GameBoy. Not Pornsites, you dummy. Pornsites want you to come back again and again so maybe they can sell you something. Not infect your computer. So, 56% got malware from clicking on a bad link that was probably on Google to a Pharma company, 47% got it from sticking a thumb drive in their laptop that they borrowed from their uncle Lenny who is into some strange guns and ammo lifestyle, 45% got if from letting their kid use their computer to surf for gaming cheats, and the remaining 33% got if from a “malicious app” that they most likely got for FREE from the Google Play app store (which is a notorious cesspool of infected Android games, cookbooks and flyfishing apps).
This now begs the question, “What does Google define as Evil?”
In an NPR interview earlier this year, former Google CEO and executive chairman Eric Schmidt explained the Google policy of “Don’t Be Evil” with some paradigmatic dodge-and-parry double-speak, saying “So what happens is, I’m sitting in this meeting, and we’re having this debate about an advertising product. And one of the engineers pounds his fists on the table and says, that’s evil. And then the whole conversation stops, everyone goes into conniptions, and eventually we stopped the project. So it did work.” NPR then goes on to say,
Schmidt admits that he thought it was “the stupidest rule ever” upon his arrival at the company, “because there’s no book about evil except maybe, you know, the Bible or something.” The contrast between the holy scripture and the engineer’s fist is almost allegorical: in place of a broadly construed set of sociocultural values, Google relies instead on the edict of the engineer. That Schmidt doesn’t bother describing the purportedly evil project in question only further emphasizes the matter: Whatever the product did or didn’t do is irrelevant; all that matters is that Google passed judgement upon it. The system worked. But on whose behalf? Buchheit had explained that early Googlers felt that their competitors were exploiting users, but, exploitation is relative. Even back in the pre-IPO salad days of 2003, Schmidt explained “Don’t be evil” via its founders’ whim: “Evil is what Sergey says is evil.
A million doesn’t go nearly as far as it did 30 years ago, so up the ante, Google!
And, in the “strange but true” section, Google “barges right in” with yet another odd development.
In the meantime, when everyone was blinded by Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Google getting hacked by the NSA and other annoying things that people were complaining about (including Google), the news broke that Google now has FLOATING BARGES in San Francisco and Portland, Maine. Tech reporters have been suspiciously been eyeballing these floating fortresses for a while now, but the mystery is officially over. The odd structures in San Francisco Bay and Portland Harbor are indeed owned by Google, who has fessed up ownership of the project and vociferously denies that these are data centers.
The company issued the following statement: “Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”
Although Google’s statement has both dampened down and ignited some of the speculation regarding the project, the secrecy with which the barges were constructed still raises some eyebrows. Building on water rather than land meant that the company could avoid filing public permits, and US Coast Guard officials who inspected the barges signed non-disclosure agreements. Plus, as the barges are probably soundproofed inside with a lining of hundred dollar bills, nobody can even hear what might be going on in there.
But, I sort of have to call “BULLSHIT” on their explanation (as much good as THAT will do anything). “An interactive space where people can learn about new technology.” Really? I can almost buy that for San Francisco Bay if there weren’t TWO of them there. But Portland, Maine? Not exactly the place to spend a boatload of money (pun intended) to build an interactive space for the unemployed toothless fishermen of Maine to go learn all about Google Glasses.
I’m almost hoping that they are building robotic dinosaurs in there and, as their last flip of the google-bird to the world as they finally get taken down, hit the BIG RED BUTTON on the barges, unleashing Google Godzillas as some over-the-top form of revenge on everyone that just got fed up with their greedy, unethical antics.
It might just be my imagination, but has anyone else noticed that Google is looking more and more like a classic “Bond Villain”? Maybe the French will fix it all. The US and most other countries seem pretty incapable of controlling this modern-day Jurassic marrow and soul sucking Beast from Hell.
Yet, as usual, I digress, so in a last ditch attempt to salvage this article from sounding like James Joyce on Guinness, let me offer some final thoughts that might pull this all together.
- Google is not your friend. Yes, the Chrome browser works a TON better than Firefox, Safari or that evil piece of junk, Internet Explorer and I highly recommend it if you can manage to download it and set it up in a safe way that Google doesn’t suck down your browsing history, personal information and blood type (if Google takes over the Obamacare websites tech)
- Anything you read on the internet from “mainstream media” about porn or adult entertainment is now simply bullshit. Yes, we had a nice recess from abuse from “Fifty Shades Of Grey” (mainstream media made a LOT of money off of that), but just realize anything you read now about porn from a mainstream media website or news source is going to try to make you feel afraid of it. Or disgusted by it. Or think Hitler invented it. It’s their way of boosting readership by blaming every ill of society and the net on porn. Don’t believe it.
- Porn surfing and consumption is, and has been, created as a very safe experience for you by all of us in the responsible adult industry. We have worked hard for 20 years to gain your trust and patronage. Don’t let mainstream scare you. We are on your side to bring joy to your panties and get a reasonable amount of money from you to pay the actors and operating expenses. Yeah, go watch a free vid on a tube once in a while, but realize the good stuff is over at the paysites, DVD stores and other places that charge a bit of money. Fair is fair, and we aim to please!
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