Wait– That Google!
So who/what is Google? The company is now one of the largest in the world, and is branching out into everything, from driverless cars to space technology to a project to keep a person alive indefinitely. These technologies are not for the feint of heart– or of the wallet. Google rocks, and knows how to work popular opinion. But Google has been able to donate large sums of money to politicians here in the U.S. and is no stranger to influencing legislation. In fact, many attorneys I speak with have speculated that Google is quite happy with Wheeler, an anti net neutrality advocate, appointed as Obama’s new FCC head. Many of us lawyers are still scratching our head as to why our president put a cable TV executive in charge of the FCC. (“If you want your net neutrality, you can keep your net neutrality?”)
So when companies like Google begin asserting the “right” to control information of its users, it sets a troubling precedent for many of us that see the strong connection between her and the politicians to whom she donates large sums of money. Sure, Google may not be the only search engine out there, but it is the largest by far. I would venture to say that she is the largest legal monopoly on the planet. And her reach over you is not just limited to the search bar, or PageRank Toolbar, and hasn’t been for years– the email, docs, wallet, website design, advertising, and other wings of the company represent a tremendous powerhouse with surprisingly little precedent on how to control the vast amount of information in its servers.
Google may believe that it now holds the correct amount of weight in the legal system to (politicians appoint the judges), as some assert, artificially manipulate the data. Take the recent example of its claim that it controls the search results that are not organically produced. The courts may eat it up to future dismay. These precedents are allowing the company to become a technology conglomerate that far surpasses Microsoft’s hold in the 1990s. It is no secret that many top webmasters believe that Penguin and Panda are merely pretexts to allow Google to create an environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt about organic results altogether, and force people into Pay Per Click, in order to stay in business.
Furthermore, the amount of data that can be artificially shaped to damage certain companies or causes can be expanded and wielded as a weapon. I may even be at risk for merely writing about this. What happens if a political candidate’s search results are skewed towards either scandal or praise due to an editorial statement of the company? What happens if data needed for the public good, such as the Second Amendment, is deliberately hidden behind 100 pages of fluff? Once can see right away how important Google can be to a politician. In fact, just as the legacy news media is almost 100% pro democrat, once it is in bed with Google, it is easy to imagine patriots being painted as “extremists”, and those who support an Orwellian government as “centrists.”
The unfortunate thing is that Google is already testing those boundaries in a way that has never been done before. Absolute power… and all that. Once thing is certain, if Google cannot change or alter popular opinion, it will bend to it. So far, Google has both hands in the political cookie jar. It outwardly supports republicans and democrats. It even has a few token conservative employees according to news reports. But it presently leans towards big government (aka progressive democrats), as would any company that is huge like that and wants to consolidate power.
Why not? After all, it is much easier to influence a few power brokers with sway over the uneducated masses, than many individual small businesses and conservative families who want smaller, less obtrusive government. We see Google getting government licenses for its new vehicles, and we see the new FCC head trying to abolish Net Neutrality, which Google seemed to advocate, until guess what, we the people protested the idea en mass. (Read the history of Google’s Net Neutrality Stance.)
Like the Obamacare architect, Gruber let the cat out of the bag that the ACA is a scam, a few Google employees even seemingly also pulled a Gruber when they admitted that Google “whitelists” certain sites it likes, so they are not effected by these nasty, caustic, and turbulent algorithm changes. This got Google into hot water in a European lawsuit, since her position has consistently been that it all all purely algorithmic. (Read more.)
At the end of the day, one thing is clear. Unless you can afford $100 per click, or more, many attorneys will be priced out of search altogether. More decisions or legislation that shields Google will likely come down in the U.S. courts. Your choices are seemingly becoming clearer: (1) Invest in Google; (2) Invest in Bing; (3) Focus on warm marketing like we used to back in the old days. Of course the nuclear option is out there too. You can try suing under RICO, but what law firm is willing to risk losing its search results?
Posts by Michael Ehline
- Program and Syllabus COLT Con 2017
- Las Vegas 2017 Circle of Legal Trust Convention - April 20, 2017-April 22, 2017
- Branding for Attorneys and Law Firms 101
- Problem Avoidance 101 for Attorneys and Social Media
- Penguin, Lawyers and the New SEO Landscape
- Building Meaningful and Effective Web Content
- Joe Mas takes the Award for 2016 for Best Speaker
- Trust Con Las Vegas 2016 Was a Hit!
- Legal Branding and Notoriety Just Got Easier for Attorneys!
- Program for April Vegas 7th-9th