Google Suggest: The Potential for Power, Coruption, and Liability

How long before Google’s suggestions actually cause measurable harm to a person or company?


We’ve already seen the tendency for Google to suggest the rather inappropriate.

So what would happen if someone who owned a enough boxes sent out enough Google queries on seemingly legitimate accounts? Could this type of activity damage a competitor’s brand?

Could it go far enough toward ruining someone’s life that Google would be held responsible in court?

Google suggest is a useful feature and perhaps we’re still just in the beta format (isn’t everything there considered beta for years?).

Regardless of what they do with this tool, they’re gonna take some heat. If they suggest sponsors – well if they do that, I’d love to sign up! But I’m sure people will bitch and moan about it.

If they clearly augment the suggestions by human review, then it’s going to be increasingly difficult for them to retain the image of being agnostic about the results. Google won’t be able to hide behind “oh, well that’s just what the big machine behind the curtain spits out”.

This type of suggestion is very powerful. The potential for abuse (whatever that means) is enormous. This is Orwell’s Ministry of Truth incarnate: only stronger. That 1984 vision only had the power to change the answer.

Google takes that one step further: they have the power to change the very question.

I, for one, am certainly happy that this power rests in the hands of a company that “don’t be evil.”

Aren’t you?.

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3 Responses to “Google Suggest: The Potential for Power, Coruption, and Liability”

  1. Justinator says:

    I often search from the browser itself (Firefox) so I hadn’t realized that this is an always on default function now. Yup I bet its not long at all until “someone who owned enough boxes” things plays out. I’m sure this will be hacked by something like a netbot network to alter the suggestions for one reason or another. I certainly wouldn’t want to get into editing these by hand as you suggest since its such a slippery slope… but they obviously already do to weed out the “bad” words.

    As far as being happy about where the power lies… um yup. Thankfully Google knows that serving unbiased relevant information is what got them where they are in the first place. But as you imply… this is bound to get sticky!

  2. It can easily be fixed by Google to simply not show suggestions that contain offending keywords. It would be a simple 5 minute alteration.

  3. It works like this, a client searches for a keyword on Google. You have published an article which targets this word and get submitted it to a internet site which Google likes. The client finds your clause on page one, shows it, clicks on your internet site link, and visits your internet site. All release well, you will have some affiliate link click-throughs, and special sales in there! That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing.