Saturday, August 29, 2015

Why I Don't Use Google Search

Google is by far the most popular search engine, why wouldn't I use it?  They claim that they will not evil, so what is not to like?  Normally, I have no problem using popular products made by large corporations, but in this case, I avoid Google Search, and am trying to reduce my use of other Google Products.

What are my concerns?

  1. Google has a worldwide stranglehold on search, the most used function on the Internet.  They are quite secretive about what they do and how they do it.  They offer search for free in return for showing you advertisements and using your personal data.  Why do certain stores and sites get listed at the top, the most profitable  position?  We don't know.  Does Google "blackball" sites and not show them or put them way down the list?  We don't know.
  2. Google has a worldwide stranglehold on self-produced video with Youtube.  A lot of people now make their living or support their charities with the money Google pays to put ads on their videos.  One charity I followed (Rise Up Society) operates in Africa and tries to cure people of Jiggers, a nasty parasite.  They produced their own homemade videos with cheap cameras and made money that they used to buy supplies like scalpels, disinfectant, gloves.  They had tens of thousands of followers who admired their work.  All of a sudden, their channel was removed for unspecified reasons.  I have seen this before, removal of a channel for mysterious reasons.  Luckily, one of their followers was an influential person in Silicon Valley and he intervened with higher ups at Google that he knew personally.  If not for this person, this poor charity would be back struggling for donations with no access to Youtube.
  3. Google reads your mail and uses the info to target you with ads.  Everyone is up in arms about the NSA but Gmail users are quite happy to have all of their mail scanned by Google.
  4. Google knows a lot about you, which you can find at this link.  Some of it is pretty personal and creepy, like recording your voice if you use voice search and recording your locations and showing you a timeline of where you were, for how long, what pictures you took, etc.
  5. Today, there are sites which have been hacked, like Ashley Madison, and sites which will be hacked, like Google.  What happens when they are hacked and all your info is stolen?
  6. Google uses super-creative tax tricks to pay little or no taxes to foreign governments (2.6% to the UK on $5B in revenue). The normal UK tax rate is 28%.
  7. The terms of use of some of their services are pretty evil.  They can use your content to promote their services.  They can terminate a service or deny a service to you at their sole discretion.  For example, based on the Blogger terms of service, they could take exception to this posting and ban me from this service.  I would have no way to deal with this other than getting a lawyer and suing them in court.
  8. Google operates according to the culture of Silicon Valley.  In the past, this culture was defined by a bunch of nerds who valued innovation and new technology.  The "new and improved" Silicon Valley values money above all else and the freedom to do whatever they want, screw everyone else, in essence radical libertarianism.  One billionaire backer of Facebook wants to create a new offshore country with "no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons"
  9. There are other good search engines out there.  Bing works well and is especially good at image searches and they give reward points for your searches.  I get at least $5-$10 a month in Amazon gift card credits using Bing.
  10. Lastly, Google right now has some nice people running it, and they seem to try to be benevolent.  But as we all know, corporate leadership changes, especially if the quarterly results are bad, witness Yahoo, AOL, etc.  What happens when some nasty "turnaround guy" ends up as head of Google and decides he is going to "monetize their information"?
So I am trying to reduce the clutches of Google on my information, my searches, and my business.  Let's see what happens.

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