What if companies like Google, or banks, start throttling their services and pricing dependent on if you are positive or negative about them or if you accept their latest offering?
(Question of the day #VII)
This time a question from a conversation I have had with myself and has been bothering me for the last week:
„Am I commercially punished by Google for not accepting their services offer? Am I censored by Google? Or do I see ghosts and am I just a victim of my human urge to see(k) causality and conspiracies?”
A regular theme at RPD are the mental limitations of human mortals. We, amongst other limitations, have an incredible urge to see(k) causality everywhere. We do so to make our perception of our world and hence our perception of our selves coherent. It is one of the mechanisms to help us keep up the „illusion of understanding”.
Next to seeking causality an other human tendency is to presume conspiracies
Chances are that your „causality” does not overlap the „causality” of others… Everybody with brothers or sisters must have had this experience that while living in the same family for years you seem to have lived in totally different families all that time when talking about it?
We create all kinds of reasonings; nicely connecting the dots of our experiences and opinions while bending corners and ignoring dots or even fantasizing new dots by the truck loads. This is mostly an unconscious process but sometimes we even do it consciously.
Here are the „dots”:
- Since starting RPD many visitors have found their way to RPD via Google Search.
- In time – with more posts and content to find – the amount of visits via Google search increased.
- In percentage other „referrers” increased even more so overall Google’s search share declined from 51% last year to 34% last quarter.
- Not a single day passed without Google search related visits; Visitors have come from 60+ countries apparently random via a bunch of Google search sub domains. Statistically a very strong pattern.
I have been posting on Google on a regular basis, often curious what they are up to, sometimes even in admiration (see: Shocker: I Find Google Much More Interesting Then Apple! ). On the 3th of March I posted a post (see „Is technology governing us or are we governing technology?” I wrote:
In earlier post (see“Why do we not stop Google while we still can?”) I suggested:
They[Google] are becoming so omnipresent that they are having negative consequences, not only for their competitors but for society at large and to a frightening extend.
Maybe we should start considering to stop Google in its tracks now we still can?
I will now put my neck on the block by boldly predicting that – as a proof that we still govern technology – Google will be broken up just a little longer then a century after Standard oil was broken up (1911) into 34 companies who in the end converged into „the Seven Sisters”.
- The amount of visits via Google search have started to decline dramatically from early March.
- 11 March 2011: In post I have been predicting Google will be split like Standard oil 100 years ago.
- I am not exactly clear on the date but to my recollection two days after the last post I was called by phone by a Google Rep to sell me sponsored links and the like; I politely declined the offer.
Suddenly the amount of visits from Google searches have virtually dropped to ZERO. This drought is now going on for more then a week… Given the historic patterns it is reasonable to assume that the page rankings of my side are lowered dramatically by Google.
Next to seeking causality an other human tendency is to presume conspiracies: so there must be a causality between the amounts of search related traffic and my interactions with Google AND Google is having a hand in it deliberately.
Scenario 1) Google commercially throttles page ranks
Google is throttling page ranks for commercial reasons. Actually it is the basis of their add business to favor one link over the other for their own commercial reasons with paid sponsored links which appear first over others. What if Google would disfavor links if you do not want to pay for sponsored links? Will I now suddenly get a new offer by Google to restore my page rankings?
We cannot check this happening but it would be unacceptable and would underline the tightrope Google is on to earn money while respecting social balances considering their huge impact with their enormous market share in search especially in Europe.
Scenario 2) Google is censoring my site
Maybe it is far-fetched but while governments all over the world are trying to censor what ever possible and since the NSA files were brought out in the open to show what is happening it is not unimaginable that Google could be censoring websites. Companies like Google also have their self interests which do not have to be in line with societies interests.
Google graph – with its ability to understand information – could easily hold code algorithms and logic influencing the page ranks in case of unwanted information form Google’s perspective. As with scenario 1 we have no way of checking companies like Google deliberately throttling page ranks, or Facebook their Likes and Apple what ever they would like to do whiten the confines of the walled garden, but the potential is there and the consequences would be real.
Scenario 3) It has nothing to do with me in the first place[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”40%”]It is our human nature to seek causality and to presume conspiracies, often with our selves being either actively part of it or at least being targeted personally as victim.[/pullquote]We often think that things are happen because of our selves or that we as individuals are part of „the dots”. Just an example via Daring Fireball „Trump nails it”: John Gruber sneers sarcastically:
My understanding is, indeed, Tim Cook lies awake most nights worrying about what Donald Trump thinks about the iPhone.
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
I could be seeing ghosts here, and I maybe I am. Maybe there are very logical explanations for the downturn of traffic via Google Search to RPD lately?
The point I am trying to make here is that Google COULD do it and we have no way to prevent it or check this from happening already. We are heavily dependent on the „do no evil” company and it will get worse with their ever increasing technical and commercial abilities.
Google’s ever increasing capabilities which could start to hurt society from a „antitrust” point of view. From „Apple bigger threat to Bitcoin then Russia, China and India?”
Often antitrust is connected to behaviour in the disadvantage of competitors – and hence the dis-economies this brings for consumers – we should have a wider perspective at the (potential) negative impact companies have on society.
Slowly but surely we should start looking at the disadvantages to society’s ability to collaborate as well.
(Disclaimer: All these years I never ever used the rebates offered by Google via snail mail for sponsored links etc, as I think this a nice development for individual firms but a nail in the coffin of effective Internet search from a societal point of view.)