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June 13, 2008
THE STORY ON GOOGLE AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS MAKES SLATE, where it gets a rather dismissive treatment from Chris Thompson. I think he gets it wrong with the Does Google Hate America? headline, though. Google's problem is that it's not living up to its own "Don't be evil" hype. Instead it's acting like any other big-bucks transnational corporation; honoring U.S. patriotic holidays might be bad for its business, so it doesn't. That focus on business is of a piece with its cooperation with Chinese censorship, something that I noted at the time:
Google has come under criticism from people on the left — and right — for its cave-in to Chinese demands for censorship. From "don't be evil," Google's motto has seemed to be "don't be evil unless there's a really big market at stake."
They've also come in for criticism from people on the right for alleged censorship in Google News, with charges that Google is purging itself of conservative news sites. And many people complained that Google, which puts up special logos for all sorts of other holidays, didn't do anything to recognize Memorial Day.
That last point seems minor, but for some people it seems to have been the last straw. . . . Jeff Jarvis notes that Google's ad business isn't doing especially well, and says that the reason is trust. So what, exactly, does Google have that will protect it from a sudden shift in consumer sentiments?
A few years ago Google lost its position as an outfit that people trusted because they thought it was run by friendly well-meaning geeks, and became just another big corporation out for the money. I think that's hurt them, and I also think it's sad, if perhaps inevitable.