Some of the anti-Google tea party is Astroturf

Some of the anti-Google tea party is Astroturf

Summary: A jaundiced eye is always welcome. But let's not pretend that all this Google hatred is some sort of organic grassroots welling of consumer voices. It's not.

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TOPICS: Google
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Some of the distrust felt toward Google in 2010 is organic.

It's a natural reaction to success. Actors, athletes, and politicians all get the treatment. You're raised up and people immediately try to take you down.

(Evil Google logo from Scroogled via Tech Republic.)

Some of it is a dislike of bigness, of big institutions, especially of big databases. Distrust of the government's collection of data on individuals can easily be transferred to Google, which probably has more on you than Uncle Sam does.

What might they do with all that data? What are their motives, really? And no matter what their motives are today, couldn't they change tomorrow?

But some of it is as grassrooty as Richard Armey's FreedomWorks, or the many "public campaigns" engaged in by Richard Berman on behalf of corporate clients. Some of the Google hate is Astroturf.

I've mentioned one of the Astroturfers here many times. Scott Cleland has made a career of shilling for Bell company causes. Taking down Google means his Bell friends face less competition. It's embarrassing for a monopoly to be worth less than a start-up.

Not that the people agitated by the Astroturfing, the faces in the ground, are anything but well-meaning. That's the beauty of the thing. But it's important to look behind the curtain at any movement and note who is pulling the strings.

Take John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog. Less than a year after rebranding himself from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, the former newspaper editor launched his anti-Google jihad.

His biggest headline so far is a call for Google to be broken up, a call that gained traction after it was revealed Google was caching data from WiFi hotspots, and agreed to cut its data retention policy on IP searches to nine months.

Anything Google does, Simpson hates. Google Books? Monopoly. Google Street View? Privacy violation. Google data retention policies? Too long. Google keyword pricing policies? Illegal, whatever they are.

While Simpson's own feelings are genuine, driven according to The Washington Post by the loss of his own journalism career under pressure from online competition, he freely admits to being a professional "hell-raiser," with foundation grants and what he calls a "professional" alliance with Google's corporate rivals, Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo.

In short he's a hired gun. If his campaign on stem cells were gaining more attention he would focus more on that.

There is nothing inherently wrong in any of this. Scrutiny of big companies is fine. A jaundiced eye is always welcome. But let's not pretend that all this Google hatred is some sort of organic grassroots welling of consumer voices.

It's not. Politics is just another forum for corporate competition. Whenever a lynch mob develops against anyone, look closely at the checkbooks behind it before grabbing for your pitchfork.

Topic: Google

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12 comments
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  • What do say about your opinion on anything not FOSS?

    nt
    Ram U
  • Google is a startup?

    Excuse me? Google's been in business for how many years now? And google isn't a monopoly? They have something like 80 percent of the search engine market.

    Google has a demonstrated history of playing dirty. Witness their antics with the wireless spectrum auction.
    frgough
    • RE: Some of the anti-Google tea party is Astroturf

      @frgough Compared with AT&T, Google is very much a start-up. The company was founded in the late 1990s, after all. It went public in the middle of the last decade. Yet it's now worth more than AT&T, which is the phone company for more than half of America and the leading wireless provider, with a heritage going back to 1876.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Which was broken up into smaller companies.

        Add all those Baby Bells back into AT&T, and Google would be small fries compared to them.

        Hence why Google is so large, and is starting to use that size a bit unethically now
        John Zern
      • RE: Some of the anti-Google tea party is Astroturf

        @John Zern. AT&T was broken up into 7 regional companies, 2 manufacturing bits, and its NCR computer arm in 1984. But it had largely consolidated into two companies -- AT&T and Verizon -- by the middle of the last decade. Those companies, together, are worth about $230 billion, against $160 billion for Google (I'm doing this from memory -- forgive me errors.)

        The idea that a company founded in the late 1990s is worth two-thirds of what the whole 135 year old Bell System is, frankly, is remarkable. And speaks to gross incompetence on the part of the Bells, in my view.
        DanaBlankenhorn
      • AT&T & Google

        <i>The idea that a company founded in the late 1990s is worth two-thirds of what the whole 135 year old Bell System is, frankly, is remarkable. And speaks to gross incompetence on the part of the Bells, in my view. </i><br><br>It also speaks to the day the Feds chose to break it up. Which was unfortunate, considering it was one of the few monopolies that actually worked surprisingly well once upon a time. And was liked by most. Now look at what we have on the Telco front. Sharks upon more sharks.<br><br>AT&T as we now know it is actually SBC Communications (Southwestern Bell), which purchased the former parent company about 5 years ago, then incorporated and rebadged the AT&T name, logo and long distance division unto itself. Could this be what one might call [i]atavistic serendipity[/i]?<br><br>As for Google, should they choose to keep pushing the boundaries of snooping, data mining and superficial apology-making, their good name is going to take a serious HIT. Google's <i>Do No Evil</i> motto may morph into the biggest oxymoronic overreach this side of <i>Computer Science</i>, <i>Bug-Free Code</i>, and <i>Microsoft Works.</i>
        klumper
  • RE: Some of the anti-Google tea party is Astroturf

    Google may or may not be ethical, but it has far too much centralized information and power. Wait to the next major solar storm like happened in the late 1850's that literally fried telegraph stations over much of the world. By the way I also believe in states rights and the decentralization of political power. As for Google books, they need more respect for copyrights, but I am very happy with the out of copyright work. I hope that they have optical storage for it or a lot of Faraday cages.
    hayneiii@...
    • RE: Some of the anti-Google tea party is Astroturf

      There is nothing inherently wrong in any of this. Scrutiny of big companies is fine. A jaundiced eye is always welcome. But lets not pretend that all this Google hatred is some sort of organic grassroots welling of consumer voices.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> a</font></a>
      zakkiromi
  • I find google to be hypocritical..

    They Joined the case against MS in the EU, the case was about MS including their web browser with their OS. While at the same time Google announced Chrome OS, Yep their OS that includes a web browser. In fact their OS is completly designed around their web browser.
    I have to ask a question, when installing ChromeOS will I get to choose which browser I can install at the time like a ballot? Can I disable Chrome from ChromeOS and install another browser instead?
    If not why not?
    NoThomas
    • No, i don't think so

      If there is, Google's loyalist, DonnieBoy, would bang his head, if any is left, against the wall.
      --Ram--
      Ram U
    • RE: Some of the anti-Google tea party is Astroturf

      @NoThomas Not everything in MS Windows is in Chrome. You can add these components in a competitive market. And the thing's not really out yet.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • Message has been deleted.

    efsane