Google Gets Big for Its Britches

When Google first went public in 2004, it trumpeted the motto “Don’t Be Evil.” While they maybe hoped to hold themselves to that ideal back then, today it seems like little more than a marketing gimmick.

Since 2004, the Mountain View-based company has grown many times over to become the most-used engine on the planet, while fiercely competing in areas like mobile phones (the Android), social networking (Google+) and online video sharing (YouTube).

The laundry list of the company’s violations and missteps has only grown in recent years, and you can find one for almost every area of interest. Regarding social networking, Google was caught rigging their search results to display items from their sources — Google+, for example — before those of their competitors, like Twitter and Facebook. So much fair and unbiased search.

Last year, Google was caught hosting ads from online Canadian pharmacies that led to illegal importation of prescription drugs. Google was forced to forfeit $500 million — a little slap on the wrist.

But it was in the area of privacy that the company seems to have really blown it.

Although Google insists it’s just a simplification for the benefit of its users, a new privacy policy allows Google to collect and keep more of users’ personal information. For example, while they once kept data from Google, YouTube, and Google+ separate, they’re now being thrown together. Google claims it will improve the user experience; privacy experts say it will just infringe upon people’s privacy.

Still, despite loud complaints from the European Union, FTC officials and 36 states’ attorneys general, Google has moved forward with the policy. Jill Hazelbaker, a Google spokeswoman, spins the story by focusing on a favorite buzzword, “innovation”:

“There is no question we are moving faster, and this increased velocity has come with improved execution. Particularly in technology, fortune usually favors the fastest innovators.”

I guess that’s supposed to make us feel better, as they ignore their users’ concerns and do anything to benefit the bottom line. But hey, what are those silly concerns compared to the magic of a “beautiful” online experience?