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Techlash: Why Google Is Next

Blog. 2o18 was the year of the techlash. Mainly driven by the revelations of Facebook’s yearlong laissez-faire with personal data and Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of it. Google, however, worries that they are next, and there is a good reason for that worry, as the stories and revelations about Google’s misdeeds are manifold.

The main scandal of Google is the fact that the company invented the main business model of the internet: Tracking and collecting personal data of humans on the web and capitalizing on every detail of us. ‘People Farming‘ as the designer Aral Balkan of has called it. ‘Surveillance Capitalism‘ as Harvard Professor and author Shoshana Zuboff has called it for many years. In her latest book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, she also blames Google and Facebook for surveillance capitalism but also says that the model has been widely adopted.

In the beginning after Google was founded, the company promised itself never to do advertising. The founders hated advertisements. They even had a saying; Don’t Be Evil, which they later got rid off. In 2001 under the so-called DotCom crisis, Google and many other tech companies were desperate to find a business model for their business online, and therefore all earlier promises and principles were scrapped in favor of advertising. To begin with Google’s advertising reminded of what privacy-focused search engines like Qwant and Duckduckgo live from today: advertising based on the topic search for. But that were not enough for the more and more greedy global corporation, who then launched personalised search, where they advertised more and more precisely according to how much data they could collect about individuals.

Even though Google are much smarter and more sophisticated in its data gathering and usage than Facebook, and also have launched way more cool and useful so-called free services, the company is losing credibility. Here’s is a list of why:

  • Google has a vast data-collection practices, which feed its powerful ad targeting
  • Google is blamed for spreading massive misinformation just like Facebook
  • Google (or Alphabeth) is one of the biggest spenders on political lobbying
  • Google is critisized – especially by it own staff – for developing artificial intelligence for the US army
  • And for having censored its search engine in China
  • Google is often fined for not following the regulation in Europe, eg. the big fine from the French data protection agency, CNIL
  • Not to mention the record €4.3 billion antitrust penalty for abusing the dominance of its Android operating system
  • It faces a huge PR crisis in Canada, where its company, Sidewalk Lab, in Toronto is building a so-called smart neighborhood without focusing enough on the citizens and  privacy
  • Companies are leaving Youtube after a blogger detailed how comments on Google’s video site, Youtube, were being used to facilitate a “soft-core pedophilia ring.”
  • The company pays no or way to little in taxes and thus does not contribute to our common welfare

Beginning of February this year  Alphabet reported that annual and quarterly revenues were up again, largely on the back of increasing market share in online advertising. But at the same time it became clear that it is to pay more in fines that it actually pays in taxes in Europe.

The unwillingness to contribute to our common welfare via taxes may end up being one of Google’s biggest headaches, when a Googlash sets in here in 2019.