does Google have a dark side?Google’s corporate motto is “don’t be evil.” However, lately it seems as if they’ve been stretching that corporate motto just a bit much. I personally still use Google and respect the company a great deal. However, I do have some concerns about their throwing their corporate weight around and essentially trying to make the Internet a kind of Googleverse. Here’s what you need to know:

It’s the Privacy Issue, Stupid

The biggest problem with Google, bottom line is the privacy issue. Google is all about sharing information and making it as open as it possibly can be. However, this sharing does have a dark side. First of all, it means that Google initially tried to pull a heavyweight attitude when they created their Google Books program and they still haven’t been able to come to a complete agreement on the subject.
I also found it really interesting when I came across a story where it was reported that Google’s executives threw a fit when an expose on Eric Schmidt was published by Cnet. Supposedly, when this publication came out, Google’s execs threatened to blacklist Cnet for a year because of it. They backed down, but still – not exactly the open information verse that they claim to want for the rest of the Internet, is it?

Street View an Invasion of Privacy

Google’s street view program is also more than a little creepy if you ask me. Mind you, I fully understand the value of the service. It lets you see what a building looks like and then theoretically, you can find it more easily. Plus, it lets you “visit” foreign countries in a way simply not possible before.
I can even imagine that an upgraded version of Street View using VR could let you feel as if you’re walking down the Champs Elysees (add in Google Checkout for the various stores in the area and you could even go shopping in those places and have the stuff delivered to your door). All that said, I don’t see that there is a huge value in Google photographing my home. Trust me, if people want to find it, they can find it just as easily by the numbers on the front door, which are clear and easy to read.

Worry about Motorola

I also wonder about the recent purchase of Motorola by Google. In essence, they are taking a path much like that which Microsoft took with Microsoft Office and Windows. Microsoft was accused of allowing Office developers to get sneak peeks at code in the newest versions of Windows, thus giving them an unfair advantage.
Google similarly has now left itself open to accusations when new Motorola phones come out with Android that they have allowed Motorola engineers (who after all now work for Google) to gain unprecedented access to Android programmers.

Is the Whole Search Engine Thing Fair?

Finally, I really need to ask whether the whole search engine is engaged in a fair way of doing things. One client of mine reported that following the recent Panda update, he lost a significant amount of his traffic. This in spite of the fact that I know his content was well researched and well written (I wrote it after all).
By comparison, I continue to see massive numbers of crappy eHow articles topping the SERPs, this in spite of the fact that these articles are often poorly written, with thin content (though they have plenty of links).

Bottom Line

I suppose one could say that Google does have a dark side. On the other hand, I think every big business has a dark side. They make their money by crushing the little guy and trying to become the dominant player in their industry. The only question then is whether Google makes an effort to live up to their motto, or whether they simply gave up on it altogether.