I've been reading a lot of articles lately that just seem to have a lot of negativity towards Google. Perhaps it's a little like "celebrity syndrome", that we love to see people and companies rise to the top. However, as a society, what we love even more is when they crumble and "cry for mom". I'm not quite ready to compare Google to Paris Hilton nor to the more loathed Bill Gates, but I wonder about this occurring trend.
Google's getting a lot of flack lately, and it seems to come from all angles. From competitors questioning "monopolistic behavior" (ironic, coming from Microsoft, isn't it?), to reports slamming Google on privacy issues, it is starting to look more and more like Google becoming a giant punching bag. Everyone loves a "David & Goliath" story, so of course there's going to be curious interest when a much smaller company calls Google out on it's privacy practices. Actually let me rephrase that, there's going to be a lot of links going to the little guy because they choose to take on Google.
To Google's credit, a lot of people are questioning Privacy International's motives and actual way of ranking. I just sat here with colleagues saying - "OK, AOL leaked private personal data that a reporter tracked down an owner of and AOL ranked higher?" Something definitely is stinky there, and we as bloggers, and journalists have the education of this industry to be able to really sense and know when something funky is up.
However, as Danny Sullivan rightly points out (and much discussion follows), Google's taking the wrong approach, even though Privacy International's report is highly questionable. Smear campaigns just make Google look bad. Granted Google is angry, but pointing out Microsoft's involvement with Privacy International, reaching out and showing that side of Google, doesn't help them. Increasing the target is being drawn to Google for "being evil", especially when other journalists are questioning privacy issues with their new street view pictures with Google maps, Viacom is suing for copyright infringements, and the FCC is now investigating Google's purchase of DoubleClick.
The remaining months of 2007 are going to definitely prove interesting to watch. Will the public as a whole keep polishing Google's shining star or will we see Google start to become the new "Microsoft" of the internet search world?