by Constantine von Hoffman

The 10, er, 7 Things Google Has Found To Be True

Jan 25, 20063 mins

If you go to the Google homepage, click on About Google and then Corporate Information you come to a page that puts forth “Our Philosophy.” The page is devoted to a lot of things that would hardly impress Plato, Spinoza, Wittgenstein or anyone who has slept through an “Intro to Western Thought” class, however it does include a list of “Ten things Google has found to be true.” Allow me to draw your attention to numbers 4, 6 and 8:

  • Democracy on the web works.
  • You can make money without doing evil.
  • The need for information crosses all borders.

Which, when actually applied to the real world, should be read as:

  • Democracy on the web works, but that’s about as far as we want to take it.
  • You can make money without doing evil, but why bother?
  • The need for information crosses all borders, however we’re going to do our best to make sure the information itself stays the hell out of China.

How else to interpret the news that Google has agreed to censor search results in China? I’m sure it is just a coincidence that Google’s decision to play patty cake with the police state comes a mere five months after a survey revealed Google was losing market share to Beijing-based rival (And, not to toot my own horn … but if you are trusting ANY numbers coming out of China than you clearly have not read China Market Research Is a Game of Fuzzy Math.) Quoth the BBC: “Critics warn the new [China-only version of Google] could restrict access to thousands of sensitive terms and web sites. Such topics are likely to include independence for Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.”

This move places Google in a fascinating, if revolting, position. Here in the US they boldly sue the Department of Justice for seeking access to data on what people are searching for, thereby making themselves look like the grand defender of liberty and all that is good. However the legal challenge to the DOJ is clearly just smoke and mirrors because when the bottom line is threatened the company folded faster than me at a poker table. Apparently, despite having a stock that sells $400-a-share Google still can’t afford to buy a conscience.

Disclaimer — all opinions expressed here are those of the writer and are not cleared with anyone else at IDG before going into print. They should not be construed as being endorsed (or opposed) by the company.