It’s amazing how quickly the once free, unencumbered, “all users are created equal” world of the Internet has quickly turned into a cyber space universe ruled by craven despots and dictators.
Take Google. Please.
The once heroic, quirkily named web search engine giant began as a free, user friendly way to navigate the web and quickly find specific information. They were indeed trailblazers in the field, and earned their way to top dog status in the billion-dollar race to suck consumer eyeballs to their screen.
A funny thing happened on the way to monstrous commercial success. Hip and playful Google turned into The Man, ruling from on high, making and breaking people seemingly without rhyme or reason.
There are as many examples as there are spiders searching the web for tiny nuggets of information. Let’s explore one. Arizona entrepreneur David DeGroote has been battling the web monolith over the placement and acceptance of ads for his rebellious little company that markets photo radar repelling license plate covers. (http://wwww.loover.com)
Seems Google claims to have some kind of high and mighty, morally derived policy where they refuse to advertise such “anti-American” products that interfere with a RoboCop’s right to flash great wads of cash out of the public’s wallets.
Yet, do a search on “fight photo radar”, and to the right will pop numerous paid ads for such devices, everything from license plate covers similar to the ones DeGroote sells, to windshield and license plate sprays that claim to blur one’s damning numerals from the cameras’ intrusive eyes.
As any businessman can attest, getting such a Google ad, and being placed at, or near, the top of the heap, can mean life or death to a company. The competition is certainly fierce, and under a more sympathetic light, Google can be seen as being in a no win situation. When the whole world is beating a path to your door, it’s hard to avoid accusations of favoritism.
But this isn’t about market economics, or letting he who pays the most, or camps out in the line the longest, have the best seats. Google arbitrarily refuses the photo radar blocking ads of some, while accepting those of others for reason’s only Google’s top henchmen know.
Such a head scratching policy is more in tune with the way the Mafia does business as opposed to red, white, and blue free Internet enterprise.
Multiple requests to Google for a logical explanation of their crippling bias resulted in the standard scripted excuses. An automaton reached by phone confirmed the silly anti-photo radar ban, and claimed that the promos we all see on our screens simply “slipped through the cracks” and will be removed when the overworked Google Moral Police catches up.
DeGroote says that’s a crock. He claims a number is his rivals have been listed without interruption for years. Repeated searches have born that out.
Requests for a better explanation from official Google mouthpieces were systematically ignored in multiple mediums -- telephone messages left with gatekeepers, voice mails, and Google’s “preferred” method, via E-Mail. How doth thou ignore me Google? Let me count the ways.
It must be a sticky subject.
DeGroote, whose roller-coaster business has been all but crushed by Google’s weird slight, is not upset with the biased nature of the system. Willing to play ball, he’d just like to solve the mystery of what his competitors are doing, or whose palms and butts they are greasing, to get Google’s Moral Police to look the other way.
It’s not simply money, he says, as he’s offered to pay more for ad hits than his competitors. In response, Google beats the “we don’t accept anti-photo radar ads” drum, and round and round he goes, strangled by virtual sea of maddening double talk.
Oh well. The freedom of the World Wide Web was fun while it lasted. What did we really expect?