Can We Still Trust Google?

what does google want to be

It’s a question many are asking – can we still trust Google? (In fairness, it’s a question you could ask of any social company).

I’ve written about my falling out of “like” with Google on here a few times recently, and they still continue to piss me off. For example, I completely deleted my Google+ account but folks on there are still allowed to send me updates via email because Google thinks that’s okay.

Or, I tried to access my Google Analytics from my simple Account tab in Gmail, and Google wouldn’t let me progress any further until I “upgraded” to Google+. Yeah, right – piss off, Google, and take your spammy account growth ways with you.

However, I recognize that I’m biased, so I thought this infographic from was fairly interesting. It gives a nice cross-reference of Google’s history, missteps, and how the general public views online search, privacy and tracking.

For example:

  • I didn’t know that Google had been listed as “Hostile to Privacy” in 2007 by Privacy International, which is the lowest rating you can get.
  • 65% of web users don’t want their search personalized based on prior search history.
  • 73% of web users don’t want their results tracked.

It’s pretty telling stuff, and perhaps another reason why Google is getting so heavy-handed in its Google+ sign-up charge (they’re still quoting incorrect numbers due to the enforced Google+ sign-ups via using new Google products).

I don’t know – I never thought I’d see the day when I preferred Zuckerberg’s machine over anything else when it comes to privacy and operations. But Google’s making that easier every single day.

Ah well… onto the infographic (click to enlarge).

Mother, Can I Trust Google?

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  1. says

    Personally I would say, no, we cannot trust google at all.A lot of people have been migrating from them domestically, and I really hope that trend continues.  They are after the blood of their most precious users, SEOers, and it will bite them ultimately as search quality drops.
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  2. says

    Personally I would say, no, we cannot trust google at all.A lot of people have been migrating from them domestically, and I really hope that trend continues.  They are after the blood of their most precious users, SEOers, and it will bite them ultimately as search quality drops.

  3. says

    I am torn about all of this. I use a Droid for my cellphone and have integrated so many of their other services into my life it would be quite noticeable/disruptive if I changed things up.
    Not impossible to do, but definitely a pain.

    • says

       @TheJackB I hear you, mate. As I mentioned to @Harleena Singh I’m experimenting with non-Google use to see how much of a pain it is. Time will tell. 😉

  4. says

    I am with Jack there Danny! 
    I think most of us are deep down stuck with Google in various places that it’s tough to get let go now, as it would change a lot of things around – even though there are so many things we don’t like about Google and Google+.
    Thanks for the wonderful infographic that says it all :)

    • says

       @Harleena Singh I’ve actually started to scale back my use in a lot of ways.
      – DuckDuckGo for search
      – Safari or Firefox for browsing
      – Dropbox for files
      – Piwik and GetClicky for analytics
      Now I just need to move to iPhone and get off my droid and we’ll see where things stand then. 😉

  5. says

    This having to sign up to Google+ is rather annoying.
    I’ve been using a review plugin which shows the star rating in the SERPS, but… in order to get the stars to show, I have to sign up to Google+.
    I’ll just not bother with the review plugin.

    • says

       @wmwebdes See, that sucks, mate! So now you can’t enjoy WordPress fully without having to sign up for Google+? No wonder they have so many complaints aimed at them so regularly…

      • says

         Initially I thought why not just sign up, but why have to sign up for no reason?
        No big deal but as I said, rather annoying and reading your post has made things a little clearer.
        Power corrupts, absolute power….

  6. says

    I still believe Facebook’s pioneering efforts have a lot to do with this. They have consistently lowered the bar on privacy and users have consistently kept returning. I still recall my sense of wonderment the first and only time I placed an ad on Facebook in 2008, able to target people by what they read, what they watched on TV, where they worked,  what city they lived in, and who their friends were. This blew AdWords  keyword tool right out of the water.
    Last month James Whittaker posted a letter on why he left Google:
    “The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus
    “It turns out that there was one place where the Google innovation machine faltered and that one place mattered a lot: competing with Facebook… Google awoke from its social dreaming to find its front runner status in ads threatened.”
    P.S. I couldn’t use Firefox to comment on this due to javascript errors so I had to use G**gle Chrome.

    • says

       @DavidWeedmark I recall reading that post, mate, it was a very telling read. Have you read this month’s Fast Company? It has an overview of Facebook, and how they have a lot of ex-Google employees for the very reason you shared here. There’s definitely something that’s going sour over at the Big G.
      Sorry to hear about the issue (and thanks for persevering!) – looping in livefyre and Jenna Langer to see if they can help – cheers, mate!

  7. says

    This is all very interesting. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that found personalized search annoying. The integration of Google+ with SERPs is a blatant method of getting people into Google+, whether they want to use it or not. Basically Google is saying that if you want to start showing up higher, you had better start circling everyone on earth and get as many people to +1 your shares.
    This is pretty timely though. I’ve been analyzing the past 15 months of my website analytics and see that search, while generally trending up, accounts for less than 25% of my visitors. This to me is good indication.
    Google’s response to the social revolution (or should I say “evolution”) is starting to fall down. @TheJackB mentioned that he’s integrated a lot of their services into his life. So have many other individuals and businesses. Perhaps they think they can wield a power over all these folks and they have no choice but to go along. However this isn’t the case with the plethora of services available, a number of which you mentioned @DannyBrown 
    For me I’m using search less and less. As I’ve commented before if I want certain items I got directly to my vendors of choice (Amazon, Apple, etc.) or go to my social circles for recommendations. I know that I’m not the only one and I believe (though I can’t prove it yet) that Google’s latest moves with G+ show this to be a growing trend.
    Mobile usage is up across the board. Guess what are on all those devices? Apps! Apps like FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Dropbox, Evernote, etc. I’d say my actual search usage on an iPhone is about 1% and that’s only because I was playing WOW and didn’t have access to my iPad to do a search.
    So alright enough from me. This comment is turning into a post. It’s only getting more interesting.

    • says

       @RobertDempsey  @TheJackB Google’s definitely counting on the integration of their services into everyday life to get them by any misdemeanours they carry out, mate. 
      Like you say, there are definitely other options available but it’s taking the extra steps to use them that puts people off. I’m looking into a whole batch of services that counter the need for any Google products, and I’ll probably use that research as a follow-up post to this one.
      Awesome comment, sir – and would be more than open to have you guest here to expand on it, anytime. :)

      • says

         @DannyBrown  @RobertDempsey The real question is whether you are bothered by the services you are using.
        I haven’t become irritated enough with Google to really push hard to move. In part it is because I haven’t felt any “pain” from what they are doing.
        Is that because it doesn’t bother me or because I am unaware? Well, I don’t really know.
        It is hard to get away from some of this nonsense. Privacy is a big crazy, ball of wax.

        • says

           @TheJackB  @DannyBrown it isn’t so much if I’m bothered by the services I’m using but the companies that provide those services. For instance, I opted out of Klout as soon as I could because I didn’t agree with how they populated their profiles. Yes they’ve turned that around and I could give them a second chance, however first impressions are huge and the one they made on me was very bad, so I’m not going back.
          I use a lot of Google services too and am starting to migrate away from them. However does that mean I won’t focus on SEO for myself or my clients? Not at all. We need to continue to do that.
          It’s a conundrum really. On one side we have our ethics and standing up for what we believe, and on the other we have the benefit we gain.
          So the question really is how much of our own ethics do we compromise for how much benefit, or how far do our ethics need to go?

        • says

           @TheJackB  @DannyBrown  @RobertDempsey what would be really cool is if we could choose how our search is personalized. Meaning I want Diddy’s or Dick Cheney’s or Robert DeNiro’s search algorithm. That would be fun. You know Dick only looks at porn.

        • says

           @TheJackB  @RobertDempsey Hi Jack,
          For me, Google is starting to operate a lot like Klout – creating (through force) profiles as opposed to allowing full, natural opt-in; making it difficult to remove yourself from the web they surround you with; and allowing folks to spam you to join their service.
          When a company goes down that route – especially one that prided itself so much on its “don’t be evil” mantra – then it’s clear they put profits over the user experience.
          That’s when I lose faith in them and look for alternative options, although I’ll still use where necessary for channel partners or users, as per Robert’s approach.

  8. says

    I would go for Twitter as regards privacy but I see what you mean Danny. For the rest I guess I talked enough about Google and I don’t wanna be sent in Hell by them due to too many negative comments.
    Just two things: first is that I guess G relies for a lot of its numbers on people who are not that tech savy and so still believe to the don’t be evil fable wherever they are from. Also I’m pretty sure their AdWords numbers are a bit enflated too.
    Second numbers let themselves to be written and interpreted as from any survey you can come out with the results you want, it’s just a matter of perspective. Think during elections when every party wins in some respect.
    When people think they are like God and the Sun goes up and down at their will this is what happens. No one remembers Icarus?
    Last no one needs a social search because it’s an oxymoron as regards relevancy and when really faced with it no one wants to be tracked which is something liked only by corporations and governments. 😉

    • says

       @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly It’s funny, mate – i’ve seen myself taking the approach that @RobertDempsey takes more and more. I go direct to source for purchases and usually reach out to my friends and peers on social networks for their opinions on items I’m interested in.
      I’m really curious what Google will do (if anything) if the FTC and other agencies find them guilty of unethical and illegal practices. Will they change, or continue to plough ahead because they have so many people sucked into their web?

      • says

         @DannyBrown  @RobertDempsey Well maybe purchases can be influenced by social stuff but the net is not made only about purchases so that’s where the social search usefulness ends, imho. It’s kind of word of mouth right? But still reliable websites with reviews have their weight.
        As for G and the other bully being found guilty of unethical or illegal practices I guess it depends on how much what they do is worth for someone else.
        I mean also renditions are illegal yet if they’re done for a “higher good” they are accepted. Or at least you can look somewhere else. Under the home security umbrella you can do everything. I guess there are better chance of people being more aware of the issue and quit using their services altogether. We lived before Google, we can still live after it. Unfortunately in these days more than ever doing something illegal is not automatically being guilty. It depends. Think about Carnivore.
        As for alternatives I would have a look at GigaBlast but you probably already know it. 😉

        • says

           @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly  @DannyBrown I agree that the net is about a LOT more than purchases, however social search can be, and is used for, finding answers to questions along with knowledge discovery, etc. So I’ll argue that the influencing purchases is where the value of social search ends.
          To continue with how I and others (it seems including Danny) operate if I am looking for a content source I’m now more liable to ask friends on social media or IRL rather than search. Having said that it does depend on the topic. Finding a WOW forum is done easily enough on search but taking an example of something highly technical and niche search completely falls down.
          I love your last comment about how doing something illegal doesn’t mean you’re guilty. We’re still in a lot of unchartered territory when it comes to online privacy. The Internet is still in the infant stage as is how we use it. However if we as consumers want our privacy looked after it’s up to us. We know how businesses (myself included) would like to know as much as possible to keep consumption moving ahead. Thankfully I don’t have stockholders to worry about (nor do any of my clients) so we can move ahead with purpose without having to resort to shady and ethically questionable tactics in order to get customers.
          The days of blanket marketing are over. It’s a matter of time before more companies realize it. That will take much more time than it took to get to where we are today.

        • says

           @RobertDempsey  @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly  @DannyBrown Facebook has some new features coming out allowing you more access to download not just your stuff anything your network has of you meaning say you comment on their photo. This is EU mandate because of some lawsuits.
          Now there are several class action lawsuits in the US over Facebook tracking people off of facebook. If this prevails it will have a massive effect on the net advertising models. It will block all business from doing this and require facebook to get permission to gather this data. Many companies plant cookies to track wherever we go.
          Danny only has 10 networks plugged in here. I use NoScripts with firefox.  But I see all the networks running. I disable all the java from sources I don’t trust. Like I block facebook here which is plugged into this site.
          But as per this post overwhelmingly in the US no one wants tracking we are unaware of. And over 50% is a very big study want jail time for the executives of businesses that get caught doing this.

        • says

           @HowieSPM  @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly  @DannyBrown even more reasons to focus on attracting and converting people on your site :) For me that’s where it’s at.

        • says

           @RobertDempsey  @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly I was part of a panel at PodCamp Toronto earlier this year, discussing search vs. social, and I asked the question, “Who here goes direct to source versus Googling?”. One person in a room of 70 raised their hand – ONE. 
          That was kinda scary to see how much Google has entrenched itself into peoples’ lives. It’s probably why they can get away with so much of what they do.

        • says

           @RobertDempsey  @DannyBrown I see your point but I think anyway that the relevancy of search results should be definitely separated from the social thing because they are more or less, imho, like water and oil. My social life has nothing to do with the quality of my content otherwise the risk is that a very social media wise publisher with crappy content stays above high quality content just because he’s logged all day on FB or Twitter. We’ve already G for biased results like that. :)
          Surely the point of friends should be taken into account but it could make Mozart disappear in front of Justin Bieber just because the first is not that popular or cool. Being cool is one thing, being good stuff is another. The goal of searches should be to find the latter, imho again. :)

        • says

           @HowieSPM  @RobertDempsey  @DannyBrown I’m still using Chrome because I haven’t found yet a way to export saved login information but I’m using Disconnect, Ghostery and Do Not Track, which is probably why my browser sometimes is not as fast as G says it should. But I try to follow the rule of better safe than sorry.
          As you say everyone cookies everything but they should be forced to not collect any personal data and it might be that thanks to EU this happens, or everything should be opted in and not opted out as Zuck likes. But I’m not that sure the EU law on cookies will solve the issue.
          Or those guys using our data for money should just be forced to share their earnings with us. We do have the copyright on ourselves. :)

        • says

           @DannyBrown  @RobertDempsey Well they said Google because it’s the search engine everyone thinks about now, ten years ago it was Yahoo and ten years from now who knows what. I see it more as social vs search instead of social-search but if things go wrong with search social can be a substitute, like the email list. But as search do not influence social the contrary should be true too. If we get a search engine which really aims at relevancy unbiased by money.
          Please, don’t force me on going social. :)

        • says

           @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly  I’m with you here. Social and search are, to me, two separate things and shouldn’t be mixed. Obviously Google feels differently than us. However again I think it’s a tactic to get more people to use G+.

        • says

           @HowieSPM @DannyBrown @RobertDempsey I have NoScript running too and it’s all surprising to see what scripts are running in the background of a supposedly clean page with not a lot of visual elements.
          As for Facebook stalking you away from the site, I have this FF plugin called Priv3 developed at Berkely. It blocks Facebook’s cookies and even nukes all Facebook’s plugins like the Like and the Share button on 3rd party sites.
          That’s something I can live with.

  9. says

    That’s our Danny, stirring up trouble with the big boys:)   It also made me feel like I needed to take a shower… we’re all FORCED to dance with the devil on this one, unless you figure something else out.

  10. margieclayman says

    Lordy, I’m really worried about myself. I’ve never liked Google, going back to when they started telling people they could forego agencies and do everything themselves.
    Have I really gotten more cynical than you, Danny? 😀

      • says

        @DannyBrown Cynical? @margieclayman doesn’t even know the meaning of the word (she’s too busy trying to save all the poor souls on the social space).
        As for google and online privacy, you could always just stay off the internet but then you’d be a loser and you’d have to pay Chris Brogan $47 to make you cool again. They’ve got us by the short hairs – let’s just accept that and wait for the world to end in December 😉

  11. says

    Apple caught tracking IPhone users. Facebook now tracks you across the internet with their DATR cookie which is the reason I left. You present Google. All three companies are slime ball companies with no morals ethics or scruples.
    Imagine Microsoft for once is the good guy!

  12. SavannahLee says

    This was a really interesting article. I am an avid social media user and turn to Google to answer nearly any questions I have, but never thought about Google or social media platforms as “big brothers.” I also have an Android smart phone, powered by Google, and have always been extremely apprehensive about what personal information the phone tracks and saves unbeknownst to me. After additional research and reviewing the in depth infographic (very well done, may I add), I am weary to use the search engine as often and am frightened by how deep I have rooted Google into my own life.
    Savannah Bass
    Platform Magazine

    • says

       @SavannahLee Hi Savannah,
      The problems that smartphones provide are all new ones that we didn’t have to worry about as little as 4 years ago. But now, with their tie-in to social networks as well as GPS tracking, it’s something we all need to be more aware of for sure.

  13. says

    Google’s integration across all the services is great for me as a content marketer but is awful for me as an user. Combing search with social is especially asinine as it creates an echo chamber- I don’t get content on a popular topic which has not be +1’d by someone in my circles, regardless of how good the quality is.
    I liked the old way of mathematically ranking content- granted, even then you could miss great content because it might not be SEO’d to the hilt but now, things are getting worse. These days, to decrease the bias of Google’s search I have to open another browser where I am not signed in to do my job.
    Way to go, Google, with “enabling” your users. What schmucks!

    • says

       @bhas and therein lies the rub – for users it’s great but for professional searchers (like US) it’s a non-starter. However all those ads aren’t targeted to us, they’re targeted to the non-marketing people.

  14. says

    I have an opposite view to you Danny. Given a choice between Google or Facebook. I would pick Google every time. My reason for saying this is because they have a far greater understanding of what Internet Marketers want.

  15. says

    This is very interesting article, Google know everything about us, and it is all connected together – cell phones, internet, email, maps, etc..  it can be very scary if you think about it