China v Google Not About Free Speech
“Don’t be Evil”. It is fairly well known that Don’t be evil is Google’s informal corporate motto. It looks great and gives everyone that sees it a warm and fuzzy feeling that this huge corporation that essentially tracks everything you do online is like a friendly neighbor. Google still has a pretty good reputation as far as corporations go. Unlike Microsoft, the general public still seems to trust Google and truly believe that they are a force for good in the world. Those who have had direct experience with the Google borg, like online marketers, SEOs, AdSense, publishers, etc. have a much different view of Google than do most people. In my experience Google is no different than every other for profit corporation. They are neither good nor evil but they are solely focused on increasing their revenue and profits. That’s why they went to China and agreed to censor search results. They saw the opportunity that was available in China and felt that the free speech wasn’t as important as that extra money that the China market could add to their bottom line.
Intellectual Property Trumps Free Speech
Google happily censored their results and cashed those checks from China until they found out that their IP was compromised. Apparently the Gmail accounts of prominent Chinese human rights proponents were hacked and in the process some of Google’s IP was accessed as well. All of the sudden Google was vehemently against censoring their results in China and they became huge proponents of free speech. Blogs and news sites all across the Internet celebrated Google’s righteousness and spoke glowingly about their defense of free speech across the world. Chinese citizens even jumped on the bandwagon and began laying flowers at the Google China offices like one would do at a funeral. Lost in the celebration of Google’s refusal to censor results was the fact that they had no problem doing it until their intellectual property was compromised. It was only then that they became the “don’t be evil” defender of free speech and civil rights. I don’t hate Google, although I feel they have too much power and control, but I have a hard time heaping praise on an entity that profits from censorship and defends free speech only when they have been harmed.
Google not evil but they are not free speech heroes either
Google is just another monopoly for profit corporation. They are focused on improving their bottom line. If censoring the results in China or anywhere else adds to that they will gladly do it. Just like many other organizations they are beholden to their stockholders and they need to continue to grow and increase revenue. Google may imply that they are different but the fact is that they saw a huge opportunity in China and willingly compromised their results in order to increase their profitability. It wasn’t until their IP was compromised that they became “free speech” activists and “martyrs”. I have a feeling that many other “evil” corporations would do the same thing. So in the end Google gets to come out looking like they care about the rights of the Chinese people but the fact is they are just upset because their rights had been violated and they didn’t like it. Now maybe they know how we all feel sometimes?