Internet Censorship, Google Style
Google seems to be coming in for a lot of stick at the moment.
Many Twitter users are aghast at the thought of Google buying Twitter, and their handling of popular blog tool Feedburner has come under fire (including here on this blog).
Some of the criticism is justified, others less so. Yet is it any surprise that Google continues to come under fire when the company itself seems to go out of its way to upset the community it relies on for its userbase?
Here’s an example.
Yesterday I asked if Google bought Twitter, would they would be a benefit or a hindrance to the micro-blogging site. I cited Google’s handling of Feedburner, and the fact that their Gmail email service is still in beta after five years. I linked this to the official Gmail blog.
The link resulted in some new traffic that I may not have had, with the readers of the Gmail blog obviously curious about the Twitter angle and Google’s involvement.
Today, I noticed that the link had been removed from the Gmail blog. And not just my link – there was another one that asked how a company can keep a product on beta for five years (which is now back on the blog, bizarrely).
(As a test, I’m linking there again with screen capture at my side – let’s see if they’ll allow this link and if so, for how long).
So, does Google only link to stories that are positive about their company? Are they trying to paint a picture that all is well with their services, and that they’re still every web user’s friend?
Wouldn’t it have made more sense to allow the link and maybe respond to the post in question?
Open up discussion and have some healthy debate about what users would like to see and whether this is feasible or not, as well as address blogger issues at the same time?
It’s a shame. By removing the link to a non-congratulatory piece, Google have taken a step down the Internet censorship path that web users hate. Sure, it’s Google’s Gmail blog so they can do what they want – that’s their prerogative.
But the end result of this is that Google begins to look like the indie band that struck it lucky and hit superstardom, and then forgot all about the fans that put them there. Instead, they’d rather hang with the faux celebrities and hangers-on that only stroke their ego.
Of course, you could say Google’s so big they don’t need to worry about what the little guy like me says. Funny thing is, though, upset enough of the little guys and it soon becomes a big guy problem.
And with little guy alternatives to Google’s services becoming more widespread, where would that leave Google?