Don’t Be Evil (Wink).

Google. Evil.

WHILE VIEWING STATS on TweetMeme, I noticed a banner ad that said, “New York—explore it again like you used to.” Intrigued, I clicked the ad. It took me to the web page shown above. (Click to view full size.) At the top was a message thanking me for subscribing. Ouch! I had not subscribed, I had merely clicked a link. Opt-in subscription without notice or warning is about as dark as a user experience pattern can get and still be legal.

Beneath the notice was an ad for a women’s strip tease class. I don’t think I’m the intended demographic. Facebook would know that. Why doesn’t Google?

The offer had a time limit; the script on the time limit froze my browser, prompting a force-quit and restart.

If “Don’t Be Evil” is still Google’s slogan, I wonder if folks who work there say it with a straight face.

17 thoughts on “Don’t Be Evil (Wink).

  1. Hopefully google plus will begin to allow the demographical/psychographical segmentation of their user base. This has been a huge deficiency that wholly allowed Facebook to erode huge advertising revenue from Google’s pocket.

  2. Google is just as evil as Micro$oft (and now Facebook), it’s just that Google actually makes useful stuff that people like, so nobody really seems to mind. And really, these shady business practices have become so commonplace what alternative do we have other than canceling our Internet connection?

  3. Google is not “just as evil as Micro$oft (and now Facebook)” – they are in bed with the CIA. Never forget!

  4. For the record, Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto was changed to “You can make money without doing evil.” about 2 years ago. As long as greed for money is excelled by lust for knowledge, evil is just ignorance.

    If CIA would really evaluate users on their super-ego boosting shallow profile pages, then maybe Google teaching them some “transparency” is not such an “evil” thing to do. It’s clearly not as ignorant as believing such things without reading at least once a “license agreement” or a “privacy notice” from ANY website.

    @Jeffrey: Really cool stuff to read around here and I want to share with you a secret in return: Opt-in is possible ONLY when you click the link which reads “Subscribe”. Like Brade put it, maybe one day on the web surfing without ads blurring your view is not that bad.

  5. anonSeeker:

    The word “SUBSCRIBE” did appear on the banner ad but it was not prominent and I did not see it when I clicked. I clicked a photo of New York with descriptive copy promising to bring back the excitement of discovering New York. That copy had nothing to do with the actual product being sold, which was a Groupon knock-off. And the placement of the word Subscribe was clearly done via an eye-tracking study showing *users don’t notice the word when it is placed there.* Thus the ad gives the *appearance* of opt-in while actually tricking the end-user. That is a dark pattern that is anti-user and bad for business. That’s no way for anyone to launch a product, let alone a company whose motto is “Don’t be evil.”

  6. Jeffrey:

    It’s clear that you are pretty biased against Google but I don’t know why is that hard for you to accept the fact that “You can make money without doing evil” is the motto of the company. (unless you skim the messages you answer to).

    And now let me explain why that motto is solid. It’s not evil to charge money for a business that decieves users in to clicking their banner which was specifically designed to trick the eye. That’s anti-user indeed but good for business.

    If you find evil stuff using Google search engine that doesn’t mean Google is evil. Think about that. Or just ignore it.

  7. @anonSeeker:
    Is it really biased to shun a corporation who for all practical purposes is collecting data on behalf of the CIA? Doesn’t matter what motto they advertise. Google is evil.

  8. @William

    You ask a question that proves my point. Don’t tell me you believe that ignorance is strength and freedom is slavery.

    Collecting data is not relevant but the way the data is used. No one can hold your private info when the government requests it. Don’t like the way things are? Then do something about it!

    PS: Recently the evil company released a new page where it posts all the censorship and user data requests made by governments all over the world. I would put a link but i don’t know if it’s allowed. Anyway I’m sure you can find it if you don’t ignore it.

  9. @anonSeeker:
    I’m afraid I don’t understand how the fact I presented can be twisted into Orwellian doublethink. It is already doublethink if you know of the partnership and simultaneously believe Google is not evil.

    The CIA and Google are in an active partnership. It’s not “the CIA requesting information” (which I think Google would be evil to comply with as well.). Of course I don’t like it. What can be done about it in this situation? I boycott Google & block their tracking tools, and encourage others to do the same. What else can be done, I’d like to know. Besides, we all choose our battles and this isn’t my crusade. I have better things to do.

    Your P.S. is your turn to support my point. All governments are on a rampage to collect as much data about everyone as possible, and you’d be pretty naive to believe it’s for entirely benign purposes. The internet is an all-you-can-eat buffet. We all need to do everything we can to protect ourselves.

    Then again, it’s possible that you & I have opposite ideas of what constitutes ‘evil’.

  10. @William

    Why would the CIA be evil? And if it were evil, why would any partner of CIA be evil too? Are americans evil for paying taxes that fund CIA? Confirmation bias is wicked and we both know that so that’s why those questions are not important. Any corporation or government is evil to some extent, but not humans.

    Unfortunately any ISP will track and archive all the data of it’s clients, so keeping Google out is ok only if Google were the only one doing this. You boycott Google for pertinent reasons, I reccomend it for simmilar reasons. Indeed it would be foolish to think any company is benevolent but it would also be foolish to reject progress just because it can be used to do evil.

    Information, power, money are not important but the way they are used. We build enough walls in real life, so if the internet is an (limitless) all-you-can-eat buffet, isn’t it pointless to compete when it’s easier to cooperate?

  11. “Why would the CIA be evil?”
    If you have to ask, then it is clear that we do indeed have opposite ideas of what is evil. The rest of that paragraph is so obtuse I’m afraid I can’t be bothered unraveling everything that is wrong with it.

    I don’t believe that just any ISP will inherently track it’s customers. Tracking & data retention only means extra work and extra expense with questionable return. Larger ISPs (arguably) tend to have less respect for their clients and seem more inclined to treat them like a commodity so they can turn around and sell tracking data to advertisers (or in the case of Google & the CIA, for god only knows what kickbacks). Most smaller ISPs couldn’t be bothered and would really rather not, except when/where required by law. Just because some do independently choose to do so makes it no less evil. In response to your assertion, Google is certainly not the only company to boycott/block.

    I do agree with you on the point that “information, power, [and] money are not important but the way [that] they are used [is].” Can I count on Google/CIA to use my information in a way that might increase my power and/or money, or in a way that potentially negates their power and/or money? Of course not. This is also a partial response to the question I expand on in the following paragraph.

    You ask: “Isn’t it pointless to compete when it’s easier to cooperate?” Very chilling. This question first brings to mind that old gem “Resistance is futile.” It also smacks of 1930’s Germany, Soviet era Russia, or modern China. It’s especially reminiscent of Orwells 1984, which you (ironically?) introduced earlier.

    Well, now that Godwin’s Law has been invoked, I can see this thread isn’t particularly constructive, so we can just agree to disagree and I’ll sign off here.


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