Bad Google, Bad

august 8, 2005

Google has pulled something that is akin to a first grader school yard fight with CNet. There's a lot of talk about this in the blogosphere (and some who think it is non-news) and I wanted to chime in on the issue also. Just for review, if you haven't read about it already, Google has announce that they will stop talking with CNet for a year because of this article. In the article, the reporter uses Google to look up information about Google's CEO Eric Schmidt. The reporter wrote the article to highlight the fact that Google's index (and others) has a lot of information about a lot of people -- and it was a grand idea to use Eric Schmidt as the example of being "googled". Not a big deal right? I mean we all have googled ourselves from time to time to find out what is out there on us. Hell, even HR departments are using search engines to dig up dirt on potential job candidates. Is it not ironic seeing the childish reaction that Google had to the article? Eric Schmidt is a public figure, his information is bound to be out on the web. Some have made the comment that there is a difference between public data and publicizing data. Yea, if you don't want your information to be public, don't publicize it -- if you're a public figure, then you can't avoid getting some information publicized, you have to live with that. I wonder if Google will take the same stance with other news agencies when they start (and have already started) writing about their immature reaction to CNet's article. From the CNet article the information sources included CNN, Lycos and Red Herring. Will Google stop talking with CNN? Will Google alienate the press with their crude way of dealing with the press? Will they stop talking with the New York Times? San Jose Mercury News? How about AP and Reuters? How far will Google go with this "we're not going to talk with you because you used our search engine to find out about our CEO" stance? I work for Yahoo!, so some of you may take this posting as a slight on Yahoo!'s competitor. It is not. I would be just as livid about any other company. But, it seems that Google has really shot themselves in the foot with their decision not to talk to CNet because they used Google to find out about Schmidt. Google has proclaimed that they'd do no evil. Sure sounds a tad evil when you announce you'll stop talking with an agency because they used your search engine to find out about your CEO -- sounds a lot hypocritical also. If they don't want you to find out about the CEO, maybe they should stop indexing information about others also. Google is a company built on their desire to index the world, why in the world would they come out and stiffle a news agency because of an article published based on publically available information? The darling of search has shown that it is not as pure and pretty as everyone believes it to be. Now, the interesting thing about this Google Hissy-Fit is the implications for Google in the future. Google has basically sent out the message to news agencies around the world: Don't write about Google, because if we don't like it, we won't talk with you. That is a great way to make news agencies not write about you at all. Will this hurt the media darling Google? Probably not critically, but it does leave a bad taste in people's mouths. Maybe soon reporters will start to think, "We need to write about search engines. That Google seems really uncooperative and angry. We'll just write about other engines like Yahoo! and Ask." Good job Google PR department. This episode really illustrates how Google needs more adult supervision. If you can't take having your CEO's publically available information in your own database, then don't put other people's information in it either. Grow up Google and start talking to CNet again -- what are you? A bunch of first graders? Oooh, on a side-note, I wonder if this posting (or even my site) will get blacklisted from Google's search index? Maybe Google will release its wrath on me after publishing this? Would that be doing evil?