back to article Google's 'Be Evil' business transformation is complete: Time for the end game

Ten days ago, a New York judge revealed the full prosecution filings in a multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google – one of many against the company, and of many more against the ad tech giants. There's too much to digest in a handful of days, and early headlines have concentrated on the claims that Google and Facebook …

  1. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Wishful thinking

    "It's them or us, and it has to be us."

    Wishful thinking, old chap.

    1. The Dogs Meevonks

      Re: Wishful thinking

      It's getting kind of ironic to see journalists finally reporting on the bad things companies like google and facebook are doing, and the harm it does to peoples mental health, communities and even geopolitical agendas.

      Because I've been pushing this mantra for the last decade... and all I've gotten in return is to be scoffed at, called paranoid and generally ignored.

      So whilst it's nice to see 'some' people waking up to the damage, it doesn't change a damn thing and it needs to be regulated and they need to be broken up.

      1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

        Re: Wishful thinking

        They have reported on them ad-nauseam for years.

        They have not been quiet about it. Any excuse to criticise them.

        For the simple reason - the internet has a) stolen their customers gaze, b) stolen the advertising revenue, and c) promoted emotional clickbait over quality content

        Not saying I'm taking sides here. Both have behaved appallingly over the last 10 years.

        1. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: Wishful thinking

          "c) promoted emotional clickbait over quality content"

          Not just Google that do that. Now everyone does as, sadly, its been proven to work.

          As I saw a headline in a local rag today

          "Man hits woman with his bag and she's horrified when she sees what's inside it".

          How many people have clicked that just because "I need to find out what's inside it".

          Annoys me.

          1. Sampler

            Re: Wishful thinking

            so...what was inside?

            1. BenDwire Silver badge
              Angel

              Re: Wishful thinking

              Bait ... obviously !

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Wishful thinking

                A slide show that requires 50 page loads to get through.

            2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

              Re: Wishful thinking

              > so...what was inside?

              Revenue, for Google and friends.

            3. steviebuk Silver badge

              Re: Wishful thinking

              I saw it, got annoyed with the massive click bait headline and ignored it and moved on. So I never found out.

      2. The Travelling Dangleberries

        Re: Wishful thinking

        It took 8 years from the start of proceedings against AT&T to the break up actually being a fact. I don't know how many years of complaints and agitation preceeded the start of the legal process.

        Anyway maybe as we turn the corner into 2030 we will be able to celebrate "the Alphabet" being broken up into its constituent letters.

        Sometimes you have to hold onto your dreams...

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Wishful thinking

          > It took 8 years from the start of proceedings against AT&T to the break up actually being a fact.

          It took about 10 years (and 2 prosecutions) from the start of proceedings against Microsoft to the break up actually being a fact.

          Then MS rolled the DoJ in a single-day Appeal hearing on a technical matter which legally constrained the Court to NOT consider any of the facts.

          Sometimes you have to hold onto your dreams. But don't hold your breath.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            And that's why, today, Microsoft is the almighty monopolist to end them all, way bigger than Alphabet or Meta...

            Wait, what?

            I remember the 90s. Everyone said Microsoft couldn't be touched. But now they're almost irrelevant. Don't underestimate the power of change to lay low Google as well, in time. No matter what they do to prevent it.

            1. _andrew

              Re: Wishful thinking

              Irrelevant? MS are bigger than Apple at the moment, which makes them significantly bigger than Google or Facebook.

              1. bazza Silver badge

                Re: Wishful thinking

                It’s interesting to note that MS sells things like software and services, whereas Facebook and Google generally don’t. Sure, MS does free stuff too that probably has to rely on ad-tech to raise revenue but the company overall is not dependent on that.

                Makes a difference I suspect, having real products for sale.

                1. Michael Habel Silver badge

                  Re: Wishful thinking

                  Or in that turn Services, like Office... Its so wonderful never being able to own anything, that was common enough just 10 years ago, and yet somehow remaing happy about it.

                  1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

                    Re: Wishful thinking

                    Libreoffice or Openoffice -- NEVER Microsoft Office.

                    Alternatively, if you really must have M$ Office, I'll leave my wallet on the doorstep (I work from home).

                    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

                      Re: Wishful thinking

                      Lebre/Open -Office is for the Homegamer, or cash-straped college student. I for one am highly skeptical that your employer would use it over MicroSoft Offce, when Office is the de facto industry standard. It seems far more likely that your Employer, like mine... Are using an outdated standard copy of it. in my case O2010. Which seems about par for the corse, seeing as were still on Win7 here.

              2. Michael Habel Silver badge

                Re: Wishful thinking

                Consider for the moment that, M$ has alwasy been BIGGER then Apple, so being bigger than Apple as a modern statement of some discription as an argument doesnt quite hold ture. What is true is that majority of Systems out there are running Windows X at the moment, for whatever reason. Other People have since moved on to Linux, or macOS. Then there are the older folks, who ditched their PCs yonks ago, for the comfort of an iPad, or some Galaxy Phablet. Afterall they just want to google the latest news, or purchace something off Amazons. of which they could eithe scurry over to that uncomfortble Desk, or.... Remain in thei comfy chairs.

                To that end we already saw how M$ can fail HARD! RIP WinMo10. You won't be missed

                *RIP Icon

        2. Mage Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Wishful thinking

          And the AT&T break up didn't really work.

          You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time!

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            "didn't really work" is an understatement.

            AT&T has reconstituted itself in a way which is immune to FTC action and no longer constrained by the 1920s "universal service to all" antitrust settlements

            Along the way it has destroyed competition in such a way that there are now FEWER competing companies than there were before the breakup occurred (with _zero_ LECs now in existence) - and stricter legislated local monopolies too

            1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

              Re: Wishful thinking

              It did work for a while. The RBOCs worked for a while but then the world changed completely under their feet. Mainly the technology change (the escape of the Internet out of academia and into the wide world), combined with a massive weakening in the willingness of the US government to regulate natural monopolies (not just in telecoms - and both Reps and Dems are equally guilty).

              Nowadays, of course, the US telco industry has congress and regulators sitting in their pocket and they are rubbing their hands with glee to see the attention completely turned away from them onto the Internet giants.

              1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

                Re: Wishful thinking

                I wonder what will happen when Starlink becomes ubiquitous? Maybe five years from now the vast majority of Internet connectivity (certainly residential) could be using their global satellite system. You can be anywhere and get fabulous connectivity. It will even shut up the brexiters living out in the styx. And how will foreign governments react? What will China do when you can stick a small unobtrusive aerial on your roof and bypass their firewall?[1]

                I think that's going to be transformative -- your everyday telecom provider is going to go bust, or at least probably only be able to offer business connectivity, because why would residential users use anything else? Rather like Google now.

                I think that WILL be interesting. SpaceX the new bad boy?

                [1] From that link Pre-orders are underway for this new satellite internet service, which promises to deliver broadband speeds up to 300 Mbps to anyone in the world regardless of where they might be. (my bold)

                1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

                  Re: Wishful thinking

                  It will be interesting to see. Personally I think satellite internet will be a tiny sideshow.

                  The limiting problems include: very limited capacity, particularly on the downlinks; poor speeds, with no way to improve it, unlike fibre; very high costs and high prices to recover them; increasing "space environmental" pressure to limit LEO deployments; infrastructure very vulnerable to physical threats ("if you don't follow our rules/pay our taxes when your satellites are crossing our territory we will shoot them down").

                  And don't forget that commercial satellite internet operators will not let people use their service for free. You may be able to hide your rooftop aerial but you won't be able to hide your monthly payments. If they want to accept Chinese customers they will need to play by China's rules - including firewalls and logging.

                  Basically, once 80% of houses have terabit fibre connections (10 years? outside the dysfunctional US market, of course) satellite will return to being useless except for the rural minority.

                  1. Mage Silver badge
                    Alert

                    Re: Wishful thinking

                    Vulnerable to Solar Flares.

                    Pathetic capacity compared to fibre.

            2. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: Wishful thinking

              "didn't really work" is an understatement

              The issues over which AT&T was broken up are all moot now. No one in the US thinks about whether a call is local or long distance, it is all the same. Having a local landline monopoly is now nearly useless, the reason there are no longer any LECs is because a company that does only landline phone service cannot survive in today's world.

              The breakup was successful in that it 1) forced AT&T off its long distance monopoly, and 2) split the local markets up. It was successful in that the remnants of those LECs spawned the two largest cellular carriers in the US, Verizon and "AT&T" (which acquired the name when one of those LECs bought what was left of the original AT&T) and the third carrier, T-Mobile now owns Sprint who was made possible by the opening up the long distance market.

              The fact that regulators have allowed the cellular carriers to merge until there are only three viable nationwide carriers, and one of the former LECs (Centurylink nee Qwest nee Northwestern Bell) was unable to compete with those merged entities at a level that made it a player in the modern world is not an indictment of the AT&T breakup. It is rather an indictment of hands off regulation over the past 20+ years.

              The "new economy" companies have been very successful in telling the FCC and FTC they should keep their hands off this market because they need scale to compete on a global basis.

              If the AT&T breakup had been as unsuccessful as the Microsoft breakup, the entire US would have the choice of one carrier for cellular and they'd probably have been successful in legally blocking cable companies from competing in "their" market of information services so we'd have only one ISP as well.

          2. MrBanana Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            The first time I visited the US, in the early 1990s, I tried to make a call from a pay phone. Instead of the phone ringing at the other end...

            "This is your operator, which provider would you like to complete your call?" WTF is this crap? I know nothing about the US phone system.

            Who's best/cheapest/fastest/reliable? "I'm sorry Sir, I'm not at liberty to give you that information".

            So, what are the options? "AT&T, ...". Sure, pick them.

            Maybe first on the list creates the monopoly.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wishful thinking

              Its a good thing you didn't say "I don't care" or "It doesn't matter" because both of those companies charged 20x what AT&T charged.

          3. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            How did it not work? Looked like it worked at the time. Alas the Baby-Bells were rife for the pickings. by the likes of Verizon, and co. but, I fail to see how thats AT&Ts fault.

        3. _andrew

          Re: Wishful thinking

          And how well have the resulting regional monopolies, and the loss of Bell Labs worked out for everyone?

          Perhaps regulation is a better approach than dismemberment?

          1. ShadowDragon8685

            Re: Wishful thinking

            Quite frankly, Google is too big, and too important, to break up.

            If Gmail goes away; or worse, becomes a paid-for service, countless people are going to be left scrambling trying to unfuck their lives from the sudden catastrophe of losing their online identities.

            It's too big to break up, too important to be left in the hands of adversarial (IE, profit-motivated) interests.

            The only real solution, then, is nationalization. Seize Google, Alphabet, whatever you wanna call it, turn it into a nation-owned corporation like the USPS.

            That, or just leave it be. Breaking up Google would be nothing short of a catastrophe for basically everyone.

            1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Wishful thinking

              Nobody is ever too big to break up. The bigger they are, the more they need breaking.

              Yes, it would be painful. Should have started sooner. But it will only get worse.

            2. Michael Habel Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Wishful thinking

              Remember when your ISP, used to give you access to both an ISB backed eMail @ddress, and asscees the dark (EVIL WORLD), of Usenet?

              Peperidge Farms remembers....

              Then everyone moved to Gmail.... :(

              Also where are you getting the idea that the USPS, is a state owned operation. Sure this was true pre Reagan, but since the mid-eighties the USPS, has been a private publicly owned operation.

        4. Al fazed Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Wishful thinking

          In the UK we still haven't been able to dislodge BT from it's uncompetative pole position in the ISP market, all carriers except Virgin must use the BT hardware equipment. Peeps have been screaming out for years that it's not competative, but our privileged society wouldn't be what it is without that same old blue chip insider trading bollox.......which supposedly distinguishes democratic society from a tryannical one.

          ALF

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wishful thinking

            Not so.

            In addition to Virgin's 50% UK coverage, 4G is available cheaply to around 99% of the UK. There are several altnets providing FTTP to some parts of the country and Starlink satellite broadband is available as a beta test.

            In fact, Openreach is starting to compete with Virgin for high speed internet by overbuilding their network with FTTP over the next five years.

          2. AndrueC Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Wishful thinking

            In the UK we still haven't been able to dislodge BT from it's uncompetative pole position in the ISP market, all carriers except Virgin must use the BT hardware equipment.

            Not true. Anyone with deep enough pockets can install their own equipment. And the costs can be significantly reduced by things like PIA which mean you (probably) don't have to dig your own trenches or install your own poles. If you need rack space in an exchange BT are obliged to accommodate you if at all possible. In addition Ofcom does a pretty good job of keeping prices down on the various wholesale services that BT make available to third parties.

            The only reason you don't see a huge amount of that going on(*) is because it costs money to wire over 25 million properties up and frankly it's not worth the bother. The best place to differentiate yourself is in the actual service and the UK has a thriving ISP market with more choice than you can shake a router at.

            (*)Although LLU is still quite popular once the DSLAMs moved out of exchanges into neighbourhoods most CPs lost interest so instead paid BT for an ethernet point in the exchange where they could install their own backhaul.

            And you might be surprised at how many backhaul providers have equipment in BT exchanges and their own national network. BT is still the biggest because it's everywhere but BT is not the only game in town.

      3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Wishful thinking

        Effectively Google owns the Internet and Facebook owns the content. Your corporate website must meet Googles' requirements if you want it to be found by users searching for your products and you have to pay Facebook for adverts, otherwise they will sell your referances to your competitors.

        So corporations are just food for Google and Facebook - compare this to the world and corporations are cows and sheep, users are just grass.

        1. Mage Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Wishful thinking

          It's easier to ignore Facebook than Google.

          1. msobkow Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            I don't think it is easy to ignore any of the bad corporate actors in the world; we have our own here in Canada, too, with Bell Canada and Rogers collectively engendering all the societal hatred that Ma Bell used to induce south of the border.

            Worse, I think getting in the habit of saying which is "worse" and must be "dealt with first" lets the majority get away with things for far too long while people dither and dawdle arguing over who they hate more.

            Mind you, the Roger's family meltdown currently in the news is highly entertaining, and it is Real World News, not some scripted "reality" TV. :)

          2. martyn.hare
            Trollface

            Because Google is actually useful

            What? Someone had to say it.

            1. bazza Silver badge

              Re: Because Google is actually useful

              Until you realise that the results you’re shown are biased toward Google making money, not you getting complete information. They just rely on you taking what they’re putting on a webpage as being the last word on any particular search query, when it’s often not.

              So, a little bit useful, but actually they’re ripping you off too.

              1. Michael Habel Silver badge

                Re: Because Google is actually useful

                Perhaps, the secret is to a) Scroll down... b) refine your search terms...

                Also would it be worth pointing out that other Search Engines exist? Yahoo! comes to mind. There is also Bing.

                1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: Because Google is actually useful

                  DuckDuckGo - my default search. If I can't find "it" there, I open a sandboxed browser (that has no saved history or cache) and hold my nose and use google.

                  Usually works the first time with DuckDuckGo, though.

                  (and I typically scroll down immediately)

                  1. Lomax
                    Go

                    Re: Because Google is actually useful

                    I quite like Qwant.

                    1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

                      Re: Because Google is actually useful

                      But you can't always get what you Qwant!

                      (***warning may contain some Google***)

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv9sDn_2XkI

                  2. imanidiot Silver badge

                    Re: Because Google is actually useful

                    Sometimes DDG works, sometimes it shows me stuff weirdly specifically ONLY relevant to US persons. And I'm nowhere near the US.

                  3. Michael Habel Silver badge

                    Re: Because Google is actually useful

                    Isn't Duck Duck Go, just Google... Without Google?

            2. Michael Habel Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Because Google is actually useful

              Say what you will... But, Martyn speaks true.

            3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

              Re: Because Google is actually useful

              Sorry to play Devils advocate - but I quite like Google Earth. And I don't need any form of logon or ID to use it.

          3. JassMan Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            Especially if you are using Firefox. They now have a farcebook container extension which "* prevents Facebook from tracking you around the web. The Facebook Container extension for Firefox helps you take control and isolate your web activity from Facebook." It creates a tab which hides everything you do in that tab from all the others you have open and vice versa. Just open about:addons search for facebook and make sure you use the genuine Mozilla extension.

            * description by Mozilla

            1. Michael Habel Silver badge

              Re: Wishful thinking

              You mean People are still useing that hot mess of a browser? Ok I'm not helping here (I know), but, really just use Chrome for chris sakes.

              1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                Thumb Down

                Re: Wishful thinking

                (see icon)

                I use NoScript. does not work in Chrome.

                1. John PM Chappell
                  Thumb Down

                  Re: Wishful thinking

                  Yes it does. Have used for years and it's running right now in my Chrome installations.

              2. imanidiot Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: Wishful thinking

                Because Chrome isn't a hot mess of a browser?

                1. Michael Habel Silver badge

                  Re: Wishful thinking

                  Ok ya got me!

                  Its just that I was a fan of Firefox v3, V4, and post Aurora... Yeah not so much.

        2. Bartholomew Bronze badge
          Meh

          Re: Wishful thinking

          > Effectively Google owns the Internet and Facebook owns the content

          I'll give you that Google and Facebook control and influence a lot, but at the end of the day that is just stuff on port 443 (and historically port 80), which is not the Internet. All it takes is for the next great thing to come along and they will be as dead as Gopher. All it would take is for a lightweight distributed protocol with built in search, privacy and no tracking cookies. I'm not saying it would be easy, but it is not impossible. If you tried to convince people 30 years ago that their "need" to use every day application would be a web browser, they would be wheeling you into an insane asylum.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            And, why are you expecting this to all just be free?

            Remember if you're NOT the Customer, you are the Product!

            1. Bartholomew Bronze badge

              Re: Wishful thinking

              If it is very well designed you are paying for the storage, RAM, CPU and network bandwidth used to create update and access the distributed data and index. I could list the real problems, but the people who use the system being the actual product is near the bottom of that very long list.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Wishful thinking

            comparing Google to Archie might be better...

      4. Clausewitz 4.0
        Devil

        Re: Wishful thinking

        One's mental health is only affected if the person has a weak mind. It is the survival of the fittest.

        1. The Dogs Meevonks

          Re: Wishful thinking

          Any mind can be broken when you find it's weakness... and every mind has one. To claim otherwise is just about as wrong as you can get.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wishful thinking

            "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

            1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
              WTF?

              Re: Wishful thinking

              so.. 24 hour clock, in the southern hemisphere. What is your point?

              1. J. Cook Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: Wishful thinking

                DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER

                DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER

                DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER

                DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER

                DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER

                I think that was the point.

                (It's a 1984 reference, as is the above, in the event that you are still not clued in.)

                1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

                  Re: Wishful thinking

                  Sorry, when I read 1984 it was still in the future.

                  I am happy to refer to it, but specific quotes are a bit much to remember.

                  1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                    Trollface

                    Re: Wishful thinking

                    specific quotes are a bit much to remember

                    Uh, that's what search engines are for... right?

                  2. tiggity Silver badge

                    Re: Wishful thinking

                    Its the first line, and often seen on lists / discussions of "iconic / great (etc.)" first lines of books. So its (in terms of book quotes) very well known.

              2. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Wishful thinking

                Oh, April days can be cold in the northern hemisphere too. Especially since the date isn't specified, so April 1 is entirely possible. A lot of places haven't really gotten into spring by then.

                If you're asking though, it's the opening sentence of 1984. Not a very illustrative sentence for the rest of the book, but famous enough that people recognize it.

              3. Michael Habel Silver badge

                Re: Wishful thinking

                Or anywhere in Europe for that matter. BTW at the tone it will be 13:00h's

            2. Nonymous Crowd Nerd

              Re: A bright cold day in April...

              What a great line. Maybe I should be rereading that. (1984)

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: A bright cold day in April...

                "What a great line. Maybe I should be rereading that. (1984)"

                You could wait for the TV mini-series and not bother with the tedium of reading it again :-)

                (Although from the announcement and PR, it's based on the stage play adaption, not the book and has some pretty gory torture scenes, so maybe not, eh?)

              2. Michael Habel Silver badge
                Big Brother

                Re: A bright cold day in April...

                Mores the pitty that the wrong people are reading this.... As in instuction manual, and not as a warning. Though I've been more partial to Orwell's other Tome.... Animal Farm.

        2. jonathan keith Silver badge

          Re: Wishful thinking

          Darwinian evolutionary fitness encompasses a vast range of strategies. "Nature red in tooth and claw" is just reductionist silliness.

          Anyway, best of luck in your community of zero-sum-game sociopaths.

          1. Clausewitz 4.0
            Devil

            Re: Wishful thinking

            Some folks prefer games with Win-Win personnel

      5. aerogems
        Mushroom

        Re: Wishful thinking

        As the saying goes... Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

        Though I think it was sort of a death by a thousand cuts sort of thing. Sometimes it was easy to look the other way on one individual action, or it might take a little while before the full extent of things becomes clear (like the AMP example from the article). As we, the people, have become increasingly tribal. Everyone likes to think that their tribe can do no evil, while the hated other tribe from up/down the hill or in the next valley is responsible for everything wrong with the world. As people we develop these weird cult-like fascinations with companies or individuals at companies. Look at the rabid followers for Apple, or may all the gods that were, are, and will be help you if you ever say something bad about Elon Musk or Tesla. On this side of the Atlantic, politicians get death threats for asking people to wear masks or get vaccinated against covid.

        Of course, as I believe it was The Register that pointed out, Google already sort of split itself up when it created the umbrella corp Alphabet, because they probably figured if they didn't, that regulators would come knocking on their door a lot sooner. Splitting up, on paper anyway, voluntarily was a way to stave off the inevitable and make a little more money for the top shareholders before that day comes. Now Facebook is trying to shamelessly copy Google with Meta, but they're like the absentee father who shows up for their kid's birthday party a week late, without a present, and so drunk they can barely stand up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wishful thinking

          You left off the part about raging hardon and pants around knees.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Wishful thinking

            TMI.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wishful thinking

          "Google already sort of split itself up when it created the umbrella corp Alphabet,"

          I suppose you're right that it looks better on paper (instead of "Google does X, Y and Z" it's "Google does X, FitBit does Y, and Waymo does Z"), but forming a huge conglomerate that owns many levels of the customer interaction chain at a scale that effectively crowds out all competition is kind of the opposite of splitting up.

      6. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Wishful thinking

        I've been pushing this mantra for the last decade... and all I've gotten in return is to be scoffed at, called paranoid and generally ignored.

        the choir says "Amen"

        I've been avoiding social media and even google for a long time, now. Sometimes when it makes sense I use their services, but I do it from SANDBOXED browsers that erase all history when I'm done.

        and as for 'droid devices, I'm just careful.

    2. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Wishful thinking

      Sorry, this is a YoutubeLink: Daffy Duck - It was him or me... Relevent bit is at 20 - 30 seconds. Seems to be Google's business model?

  2. Zenubi

    42 huh

    "It takes up to 42 per cent of the cut from ad money that goes through it, alleges the filing, 42 per cent that can't be spent on content providers like journalists"

    42 huh - where have I heard that number before?

    1. The Dogs Meevonks

      Re: 42 huh

      It's like that particular number has some specific 'meaning' to something, something and something else.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: 42 huh

        But it's not the meaning, it's just the answer. What we need is the question.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: 42 huh

          Could be six times nine?

          1. Joe W Silver badge

            Re: 42 huh

            At base 13. Yes.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. ghp

            Re: 42 huh

            No way, we all know six times nine is NSFW soixante-neuf.

        2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: 42 huh

          The question is: who's to be the master? That is all.

      2. herman Silver badge

        Re: 42 huh

        All Google needs to say is Yes, No and Where’s my tea.

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      Re: 42 huh

      Brain the size of a planet and all Google gets to do is direct cars.

      Maybe it should be renamed it Marvin?

  3. TonyJ Silver badge

    And they will just lobby a bit more, pay off a few politicians etc and get a metaphorical naughty boy, slap on the wrist, must do better telling off, combined with being fined roughly 12s of global revenue and then simply carry on as usual.

    1. Jonjonz

      This is the face of end stage democratic capitalism. Infrastructure is crumbling, social turmoil and division is spreading, growing shortage of goods, high unemployment together with labor shortages, it's 1980s Russia all over again, except it is greedy corporations instead of party fat cats causing the rot. Get ready for a bumpy transition to Russian/Chinese style gangster capitalism. Democratic Capitalism is terminal.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        no. you place blame inaccurately.

        It's the final stage of un[der]regulated monopolies and trusts cornering the markets and controlling everything, similar to late 1800's and early 1900's Robber Barons.

        It's a big part of why Teddy Roosevelt became president, back then (although that history is more subtle, he was McKinley's VP and became President following McKinley's death).

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Clock is ticking

    I'll be leaving my full time IT employer soon, and will be ditching all things google and M$. Perhaps it's time to revisit my own mail server idea again!

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Clock is ticking

      I am retired. I ditched MS a long time ago - I do not own a single Windows licence or machine any more.

      I also live my life without Google. No Gmail. No Android Google services. I run my own website and my own mail server (and some other services). Phone/tablet is a bit hard - I have some Apple devices and I have some de-Googled Android devices (Replicant, LineageOS and /e/ (or whatever they renamed themselves the other day)).

      The hardest part is search. I run my own Searx instance but Searx is really a proxy for other search services, many of which are themselves proxies for Google (like DDG, Startpage, etc). This gives me anonymity from Google but means my search results are still dominated by Google's algorithm, which is still notably better than Bing.

      1. Zolko Bronze badge

        Re: Clock is ticking

        The hardest part is search

        use Qwant : it's independent, European (French I believe). Gives also better results than Google, less obvious crap.

        1. luminous

          Re: Clock is ticking

          I tried... it says not available in my country... bit odd.

          Clicking "Visit our blog" goes to a database error page.

          Reminds me of the GIF... "at least you tried" birthday cake that Bart throws into the bin.

  5. IGotOut Silver badge

    Don't forget Google+ and other bolt ons

    A little charity I helped ran was about page 5 or 6 for some search phrases related to the local area.

    I created a Google+ social thing and added the location to street view.

    Bang!

    No3 in general local searches (knocking the schools down) and no1 for a slightly more specific, yet common search.

    It even got to about page 3 for a regional (countywide) search. There was no way it could normally be ranked that high.

    Talk about rigged.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Don't forget Google+ and other bolt ons

      But was that YOU searching or a new person on a PC not used for the search?

      Google search also behaves like a bookmark service.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Don't forget Google+ and other bolt ons

        New searches.

        Always proxied results through the likes of Startpage as well as different browsers and private browsing.

        Not only this but the web stats backed it up.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't forget Google+ and other bolt ons

        The way Google treats us, more like strap-ons.

  6. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

    There's still journalism out there, but few people actually want to read it and still fewer to use it as the basis for active political engagement - and almost no-one will pay for it in hard currency.

    I'm afraid if "content providers" got a greater proportion of ad revenue it would simply be used to create more fungible clickbait - because that's what people now expect to read.

    Finance may be one weapon for attacking the Tech hegemons but unwinding the damage caused by an addiction to controversy and lack of personal agency is going to be an almost insurmountable task.

    1. Esme

      Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

      It's not like we've been given a lot of choice though. The corporates simply decided that making content free for the consumer to access whilst generating revenue from advertising was the way to go, and that was that - no options.

      "Walled gardens" have had their ups and downs, pros and cons, criticisms and praises, and are fine for some things (like, say, a streaming service that specialises in science content) but have obvious potential problems iff they cover the gamut of education, entertainment and news.

      I once thought that something like the TV licencing system here in the UK might be a way forward, but whenI stopped and thought about it, the problem is that the BBC was a trusted content provider tasked by the government to produce quality programming - and until a few years ago, I;d say they did a pretty fair job of that. But trying to apply that model to the internet - pay your "licence fee" to your ISP, and a portion of that goes to content creators... the problems are obvious. .

      Al I can do is wish the youngsters good luck in the. years ahead with trying to reclaim society from sociopathic corporate interests. Whilst tackling climate change and the current trend towards right-wing extremism that doing the rounds again....

    2. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

      It is sad what has happened to journalism. Margins and revenue were cut, novice young journalists with tough targets came in.

      Social media linking drove clickbait emotionally driven content. The New York Times realised that generic anti-Trump articles had 300% more engagement than any others and thoroughly went to town with this theme. Formerly honourable journalists became undeniably partisan, on the left and right. PR campaigns became "news". Viral marketing campaigns still pretend to be news. Teenagers started cutting out the middle man and become their own influencers - with all the predatory advertsing techniques you could imagine.

      I am not sure I could stomach regularly reading any single one of the mainstream newspapers in the UK. I even find the BBC news website a regrettable and depressing array, of what I would call "6th form art student Guardian articles". Some newspapers are too far left, others too far right. Others are clearly staffed by 22yr old morons. It is astonishingly clear that several newspapers are clearly linked to political owners - with all the biased reporting and propagada you would expect in such a situation.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

        > It is astonishingly clear that several newspapers are clearly linked to political owners

        Really? What was the clue, hurrah for the black shirts?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

          Example, Bezos owns the Washington *BLEEP* (aka Washington [com]Post). It is well known as having a left-wing bias (long before Bezos bought it). I do not believe anything has really changed in their politics, from what I understand. They were the newspaper of Woodward and Bernstein (of Watergate fame), after all.

          Now I do not believe Bezos interferes with their operations or hands down orders to them. Rather, he bought a newspaper that most likely agrees with what he believed already at the time, and probably still believes (politically).

          And that's probably the case with many other "political owners".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

            A US media organisation with a left-wing bias? FFS nothing in the US of A is left, centre right is the furthest left you will find. Now owned by arch-capitalist and you thing it has a left-wing bias? I know you are right wing but really?

          2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

            Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

            I can deal with political bias in news sources so long as they actually verify what they report. I just have to read multiple source to get the whole truth or at least a reasonable facsimile.

            The problem is when outright lies or rumours are presented as news or "commentary".

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

          @Yet Another Anonymous Coward - Upvote for the reference to the inglorious history of the daily fail

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

        "It is sad what has happened to journalism. Margins and revenue were cut, novice young journalists with tough targets came in."

        That happened LONG before social media

        Back in the 1980s and early 1990s most "professional journalists" I dealt with made it clear they had no interest in doing anything except processing PR releases and absoutely zero interest in dealing with local issues unless they were given the stories prewritten and preedited for them. Only about 1 in 100 actually gave enough of a flying fig about anything they were writing to fact check various claims made by government talking heads and the average reader works on the mindset of "if it's in the newspapers it must be true, because they always make sure it's right before they print it".

        Retractions and corrections in small print on page 5 a few days later don't have the same impact as inch high headlines on page 1

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

          I suppose it depends which journalists you were meeting. Mark Tavener in his 1989 novel In The Red poked gentle fun at the stereotypical "Fleet Street Hack" (though the journalist in the book actually worked for the BBC) but obviously realised that something wasn't entirely right in the business.

          In the mid 1990s I was working in local radio and our newsroom was filled with journalists (mostly) absolutely determined to do the best they could with the limited resources at their disposal. We also took in students from the Cardiff School of Journalism and on the whole they were of the same mindset. National and international news came from Independent Radio News in London, which was probably at the peak of its abilities in the early 1990s.

          The Western Mail and Echo just up the road was fighting for its (their) life and trying to do so with some top-notch local journalism, but making up the bulk with pre-written stories from the Trinity Mirror group and press releases masquerading as news.

          There were even some still-thriving local newspapers such as the Swansea Evening Post.

          But it didn't last. The late 1990s was when the internet finally began to impinge on the consciousness of Joe Bloggs (I signed up for Demon in 1996, and I wasn't exactly early to the party), and by 2000 it was obvious that something was very wrong with independent, rigorous, trusted journalism.

          There is still some out there, but...

          M.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

          I suggest that says more about what your job was at the time - and hence, what subset of journalists you came into contact with, and in what contexts - than about the class as a whole.

          Back in the 90s I was a magazine editor, and I know what you're talking about, but you have grossly exaggerated.

      3. ghp

        Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

        There's no "Canard Enchainé" in the UK? Incrédible!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Without journalism, you get guaranteed corruption

        Name a newspaper that is too far left? Hint, it is not the Guardian which is left-centre at most.

  7. jmch Silver badge

    Last paragraph

    "Data trading for ad revenue must be regulated like finance, aviation, medicine, and power. The giants who've cheated us must be broken up to their smallest viable constituent parts, and their future interactions be through a framework of radical accountability."

    Exactly that. Fines, however large, are not enough. I woul add to the above that in the equivalent offences in, say, financial services, it's not just the company that takes the rap, it's the individual. If there's leaked internal data, there's emails, there's specific names that can and should be charged with specific offences.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Last paragraph

      Meanwhile the UK DCMS is proposing to 'liberalise' tracker use.

      "60. The government therefore proposes to create a limited, exhaustive list of legitimate interests for which organisations can use personal data without applying the balancing test in order to give them more confidence to process personal data without unnecessary recourse to consent.

      [...]

      d. Using audience measurement cookies or similar technologies to improve web pages that are frequently visited by service users

      [...]

      h. Using personal data for internal research and development purposes, or business innovation purposes aimed at improving services for customers"

      OK, this is under consultation and we're being asked to respond, but what's the betting that supportive submissions will be cherry picked?

      1. JassMan Silver badge

        Re: Last paragraph

        I am glad they publicised this survey so well. I expect no-one will respond because no one will know about it. They will take the lack of response as the general public not being worried about losing any remaining control they have over their privacy. The great health Data grab all over again.

        @Mike 137 Thanks for the heads up.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Last paragraph

        So, respond. I've done it a couple of times, it's fun and it can make a difference.

      3. Hockney

        Re: Last paragraph

        I followed the DCMS link and the text is written in the PM's voice! Good work to mimic the carrot-topped barf-bag so well, but I feel slightly soiled.

        Still, mustn't grumble, eh? Got through worse in the war didn't we?

      4. Whiskers

        Re: Last paragraph

        Tried to respond to the quesstionaire, but got too angry at the loaded questions and gobbledegook to continue. Even if normal people were aware of it, how many would persevere to provide a complete response to what seems to me to be a deliberately skewed quesstionaire designed to generate responses the "researchers" want?

        That's a common fault of "opinion polls" and so on, not only government-sponsored ones.

        1. KBeee Silver badge

          Re: Last paragraph

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GSKwf4AIlI

          1. Whiskers

            Re: Last paragraph

            Ah; "Yes, Minister". Tricky chaps, words.

  8. The Travelling Dangleberries

    Better the devil, you know...

    I remember hearing from an acquaintance in the early 90's that the Greater Manchester Police finally had enough of the gang leaders responsible for drug sales in their area and decided to put a fair few of them behind bars. Trouble was, their organisations continued to flourish except with new leaders in place. Leaders that the police had no working relationships with, leaders who had grown up without the old school habits of their predecessors, leaders who were more unpredictable.

    I have often observed that there are many more parallels between the bootleg era Mafia in the US and the large US based multinational corporations than with either of them and the ethics embodied in the ideas of WIlliam Morris and the enlightened Industrial Revolution company owners. Or in the business practices that follow the aims and principles of the co-operative movements that have made such a difference to people around the world.

    Nothing is bad for Google. It might well get broken up a la AT&T, split into separate corporations that co-incidently continue to co-operate on projects of mutual benefit. The new Google might well have to get used to more oversight but it has money and lawyers so combating oversight will just be seen as a new cost of doing business, like office rental, company cars and staff.

    On the other hand, not breaking up Google will have dire consequences for the rest of us folk and will stifle competition maybe forever more. Like the bootleg era Mafias it is never enough just to do business on a level playing field and compete fairly with the competition. Oh no, in order to maximise profits the competition have to be completely destroyed.

    1. Robigus
      Holmes

      Re: Better the devil, you know...

      About 10 years ago I met with Manchester Police who wanted to see a mapping system I'd written. They told me a similar tale to that of your aquaintance. They indicated areas over a map where the policy was containment, and not to create any kind of crime-vacuum by removing a gang/family/Women's Institute* group.

      * I made that up.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Better the devil, you know...

        (or indeed, the Greater Manchester Serious Crimes Squad)

  9. awa

    could have been

    The monopolistic tech conglomerates do plenty of evil.

    The biggest one is mostly invisible though: Tech itself can be immensely wonderful. Could have been. Open protocols. Clear data ethics. The world with an Internet that didn't get skullf*d by a couple of tech oligarchs could have been an awesome one. A washing machine that naturally knows when there is an abundance of electricity on the grid is technically possible since many decades. Didn't happen. Connecting something to the Internet could have been a great thing. Today it is not. Thanks Sergey, Larry, Mark and Jeff. And, yes, Steve, you too. But at least computers are no longer beige because of the late first tech oligarch.

    1. Timo

      Re: could have been

      I don't think we can lay all the blame on the tech companies. It comes down to how people want to buy things, and for the majority of them free, supported by advertising, is how things get monitized.

    2. Pirate Dave Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: could have been

      The wife and I were talking about this a few days ago, after seeing one of the many commercials showing an Amazon Alexa connecting to a Roomba robot vacuum. I mentioned that I'd always wanted voice-activated robots since I was a kid in the 1970's, but Amazon (and Google) have perverted that by using it for data-mining. I'd be fine with a robot that did all of its own voice-processing onboard, but I'll be damned if I'm going to have one that sends all of our sounds to The Cloud for processing. It's a shame they've ruined that dream for some of us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: robot hoovers

        Who will no doubt report back to the mothership about the contents of your home.

        Then Alexa/Bixby/etc will say,

        "That sofa is looking a bit shabby. We recommend..."

        None of this shit is coming into my home. If I want to use Amazon, then I have to use my mobile data or someone else's WiFi because I've blocked it. Most of google was blocked about a decade ago. android devices complain about being unable to connect to the mothership when in my home. Good!

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: could have been

      But at least computers are no longer beige because of the late first tech oligarch.

      ... at least mainstream computers ...

      Those by the late Sir Clive weren't beige either.

      1. Whiskers

        Re: could have been

        Some were tangerine :))

  10. devin3782

    As the ancient saying goes "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" have we learned nothing, probably most take things too literally.

    1. Foxglove

      Shirley that should be:

      "Beware of Geeks bearing gifts"

      1. Robigus
        Coat

        "Beware of Geeks bearing grifts"?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Or from the corporate oligarch side: "Beware of geeks baring grifts"

          1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

            And one step worse that that is "Beware of geeks baring all"

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Dr Paul Taylor

        Actually, what Laocoon said in Aeneid book II was "timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes" - "I fear the Greeks, even when they're bearing gifts". He and his sons were then eaten y a sea-serpent.

        1. Robigus

          Who'd be a priest of Neptune?

        2. PerlyKing Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes

          To digress a little, I had to learn some Latin at secondary school (or at least attend the classes...). Early on, the teacher asked us whether we knew any Latin phrases. We started with the usual "et cetera", "id est" and maybe a couple more. Until it was my turn, and I trotted out "Timeo danaos et dona ferentes" (which is what Asterix said in Asterix the Legionary :-D). After a slightly stunned silence, the teacher took me apart on my somewhat loose translation. A bit like the centurion in The Life of Brian except that my Latin was never that good.

        3. Panicnow

          Beware of Geeks bearing GIFS?

          (Just drop 2 letters from the old phrase)

    3. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
      Coat

      "Beware of gifts bearing Greeks" - Former citizen of Troy

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        "You need to keep an eye on that wife of yours..." - Menelaus' court advisor.

  11. Omnipresent

    society is screwed

    All you have to do is put down your computers and walk outside... look at what's happening around you in the real world. Look at how people act, talk, deal with each other. We've entered a world that buys and sells your children like property, and look at the children. They are no longer a part of the real world. Ideas get spread like wild fire before they are even determined to be true or false.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: society is screwed

      Indeed, it (mis)spells the ned of cilivisation as we know it.*

      * award yourself points if you know where that quote comes from.

  12. Gerlad Dreisewerd

    A Third Way

    The business of Big Tech is data mining. Slurping your data to be bundled and sold to whoever has the cash. Data is only valuable so long as the buyer has some confidence that the data is at least 90% good. What is the value of data when it's only 50% good or 25% good? Is it worth a hacker's effort to hack into a site when 90% of the usernames & passwords are fictitious and can be used to track down the original hacker's? What use is location data when the phone is reporting that it's in Hell, Michigan USA? Will the targeted ad industry start sending ads for burn treatments, fire extinguishers & fire resistant clothing? Create accounts for dead relatives. Maybe they'll get ads for lawn care services. The idea is to create so much bogus data that it becomes difficult if not impossible for an outsider to discern what is real and what is garbage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Third Way

      It's a nice idea but to be quite frank they don't care. As long as company A is paying company B for ads and the sales are coming that's all they need. Some of the biggest companies in the world don't even care if their individual campaigns are successful they just want them to be at the forefront of your mind when you think about whatever it is they sell or think about what they sell without reason just because it's engrained. Thirsty then get a Coca cola. Hungry then get a McDonalds.

      The way this is supposed to work is competition and regulation. When you have neither this is what we get and I fear we have let them go too far this time. Their fingers are in too many pies. Even the former deputy prime minister works for Facebook as a lobbyist so you can imagine the access and influence he has to the upper echelons of parliament.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: A Third Way

      I'd like to believe that, but there are three major objections to it working.

      First, companies are often quick to ignore whether what they think works actually works. A lot of this data goes into advertising. Well, if we give them junk data, their advertising should be less successful, right? They will run a study and find this out. Except companies mostly don't like to do that and when they do, the advertising they already get loses a lot. If you like podcasts or are willing to read transcripts, these might be of interest. It demonstrates what happens when researchers try to analyze the success of advertising. Part 1: television advertising, Part 2: Online advertising

      Second, creating fake data isn't easy. In order to have a fake location report, you have to set up several things on a device which ordinarily tracks location, then set up tracking, then hide other information which can show that you lied. If you report a fake location in Michigan but you're actually in the UK, your local time zone, IP address, and path you took to the reporting server will all indicate the data's wrong. Fixing that is expensive and complicated. And that's if they don't think about the fact that a device generally moves and your fake location probably doesn't. Getting your fake location tracker to make the reporting device appear to move without phasing through Michiganian walls is quite a bit harder.

      Third, while the results of the data collection may be unreliable, the companies have an interest in collecting it for some reason. I don't know if they have found an evil plan that really benefits from having it, but if they haven't, they're working on it. They can hire some people to clean the junk out of the system. Unless everyone is doing it, there will be signatures they can follow and a lot of software can ignore the small amount of noise we can create for them. They probably won't be courteous enough to tell us that our fake data has been rejected, so we continue to use methods they can filter. Doing it in the hopes of slowly bringing their data collection down is probably a waste of our time and resources.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: A Third Way

        I think - having read the transcripts of the programmes at your links - that the message of those two podcasts is that advertisers (that is, the people who buy advertising space) not only do not know how well their advertising is doing, in any kind of objective sense, but that they are not interested in finding out. The advert-slingers (be that a newspaper, a TV channel or an online slinger) are, of course, invested hugely in keeping them in the dark.

        In other words, it probably doesn't matter whether or not we (as consumers) try to "spoof" the algorithms. Best just to block the ads :-)

        M.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is interesting to me that this is all focused on Google and Facebook. While they are definitely two of the bad actors to be be sure, everyone seems to be ignoring the rest of the behemoths in the tech sector. Microsoft? I'm not sure I'd put them in the same category as Google/Facebook but I'm also quite sure they are not a force for good in the world. Apple? Better (but not great) from a privacy and security point of view but again, plenty of challenges with them. What about the cellular phone carriers who track our every move and sell that information to the highest (and lowest) bidders? Credit card companies that track our spending habits and have no problem selling that data?

    As a society we seem to have decided that free is worth it at the expense of our privacy (and I'm just as guilty as the next person - I use Google for much of my e-mail and productivity though I also have some other accounts but just like everyone else, Google is convenient so I silently put up with it). I have abandoned Facebook entirely but still use Instagram and WhatsApp occasionally.

    Unfortunately IMO, without serious government regulation this is not going to get better and based on the political climate in the USA at least that means this is not going to get better. Our politicians (on both sides) would rather score points against the "other side" than actually do anything to improve the country.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      While the Rejects of Redmond and others are very noxious in their own right there is the potential for a more

      'hands off' relationship. The others sell products such as software and hardware which has utility in its own right without the need for intrusive data collection. Failbook and Chocolate Factory must generate ad revenue to survive. Thus their insatiable appetite for user data to misuse. One of the key stupidities of both is the idea of narrowly targeted advertising.

      The problem with targeted advertising is context. For example, my dryer died recently (it is 10+ years old). My options were repair or replace. I investigated both, choosing repair as it would be cheaper than replace. Now I did some searching for dryers to get an idea of cost and availability. The targeted advertising would take the fact I was searching for a dryer without the context of why I was searching. But since it has been repaired I do not need a new dryer but there is nothing for the targeted ads to determine if I still interested in a dryer. What's worse I searched on specific local stores sites I knew sold dryers so in fact Google did not know I was even looking for a dryer.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "everyone seems to be ignoring the rest of the behemoths in the tech sector"

      They (and, largely, the regulators) are also ignoring the vast numbers of smaller organisations that trample over our privacy by tracking us. The aggregate effect of these probably at least equals that of the behemoths due to the sheer number of parties doing it.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      If you actually got out more often, you would see there are thousands and thousands of articles all across the world written about other companies contributions to the problem as well.

      "They only focus/write about/talk about" is a self declaration of your ignorance.

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    poison pill story

    In this case the poison pill was a widely reviled company on the verge of bankruptcy named Doubleclick, whose executives needed to disappear up their own fundamental orifaces

    It was generally regarded as a very stupid move for Google to acquire them

    Guess which position in Alphabet they now hold?

    Fans of Schlock-horror movies might know a movie called "The Stuff" (carnivourous yoghurt which eats you from the inside and turns you into a "Stuffie" zombie) - that's essentially what happened to Google

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Either Google is screwed, or society is screwed'

    'google screws society'?

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    Google OR society is screwed?

    LOL. It's both.

  17. jollyboyspecial

    Anybody?

    Honestly now. Did anybody really believe all that do no evil schtick?

  18. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Once upon a time...

    Way back when, we remember that Google's motto was "do no evil". Then they started making money... big money. The corruption and rot set in. So here we are today. As someone earlier posted... "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" and another saying "beware of Geeks bearing gifts". Seems to be sound advice.

    1. jollyboyspecial

      Re: Once upon a time...

      Google were always an evil empire. But in the early days they were a tiny evil empire so nobody was a aware of their evil intent. It was always obvious that their plan was to make money out of advertising. And their USP was targeted advertising in the guise of a search engine. I wouldn't call that full on evil but certainly nasty.

      However in retrospect I think the plan was probably always to achieve maximum revenue by selling the data they harvested.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Once upon a time...

        I think it was less obvious at the beginning. With their successful search engine, a non-evil advertising concept was available to them: target advertising to the search query, collect lots of data about how ads appeal to different types of searchers, and make money from that. Without having to collect the personal information or histories from people, they could still have used it to their benefit. I don't know whether they were hiding that from everybody or if it was their intent at one point, but an observer could expect them to take that approach until they unveiled their more invasive version.

      2. alisonken1
        Coat

        Re: Once upon a time...

        Actually, ISTR in the beginning, Google was literally just a search engine. For about 5 years, they had no real revenue and no other business but website scraping to get links to tweak their algorithm.

        But prior to going public, they were told they had to have a revenue stream before going public (and Wikipedia-style grants/donations were not an option)*.

        It was only after they were almost forced to accept ad revenue that they changed from "Do No Evil" to "Don't Get Caught".

        * Can't find the reference article since it's been years ago that I read it.

        1. Whiskers

          Re: Once upon a time...

          We (humanity as a whole) got the web search and journalism etc services we deserved. Getting people to pay money for them just didn't work; "free" and "pretty" are too tempting.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Once upon a time...

        Don't forget manipulating their search results in order to favour those who pay the most.

        Just like Amazon who will put links to their (often inferior) products at the top of the page over those poor suckers who rely on the goodwill of Bezos Inc to do business.

        The Google/Facebook hegemony is just Big Brother lite. It will evolve into full-blown BB when Bezos joins in the fun.

        If you are an old Grumpy like me it is quite easy to avoid the evil empire but for younger people?

        That is not so easy. These companies have been part of their life for so long, they can't do without them.

        Addicted by design.

  19. Mark 85 Silver badge

    This reminds me of an old drinking song.

    Way back in my youth, there was a bawdy song to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean". I'll not repeat it here but the chorus was "My God how the money rolls in. Rolls in. Rolls in." Seems to apply to many tech companies.

  20. msobkow Silver badge

    There are 26 letters in the alphabet. Might I suggest breaking up Google into 26 parts? Even that isn't as far as they went with Ma Bell in the US...

    1. TJ1
      Joke

      Make it 52 parts...

      ... with UPPER and lower case - and possibly some 'punch'tuation too!

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Unicode offers a lot more characters…

  21. Lorribot Silver badge

    Some bits of seperating your life from Google will be tough (Mobile Phone) as the options are limited and frying pan and fire type. But we can all stop using Chrome, Google search, Maps, GMail etc and stop giving Google your data. And while you at it stop using Face book apps too.

    Group of people sttting on chairs in a old church hall. "Welcome to Google Anonymous, I am a google addict, its been 30 days since i last used a Google service."

  22. bigtimehustler

    Well, anyone would think you are judge and jury. Just looking for an executioner from your sumning up. Perhaps wait for the verdict first, you know, innocent until origen guilty and all that.

  23. joekhul

    Freetard whining

    Never trust them media. Another hack job of falsities by El Reg. Anyone who actually used AMP understood it did what it said: sped up *most* pages. It did this but restricting the amount of garbage JS files you could include. Did Google duo this to benefit their self to? Of course. They are a business!

    And the media is a business too, and they are losing sand they are crying... Never trust them.

  24. TM™

    "Data trading for ad revenue must be regulated like finance, aviation, medicine, and power"

    I would argue that it is already regulated in just the same way those other things are.

    1. Short Fat Bald Hairy Man
  25. Filippo Silver badge

    "the decision isn't whether to do anything but what"

    I'm not at all sure about that. It looks to me like the option not to do anything significant is still very much on the table.

  26. Jess

    I've been slowly giving my online prescence a Googlectomy.

    I already cut facebook out a few years ago. (Occasionally I have to use one of their services in a limited and specific way, eg WhatsApp on a separate phone, with only the required contacts).

    Mobile is pretty well isolated. My main phone is running CalyxOS (on a Google Pixel ironically), secondary phone is an AGM M7 (Light version of Android without Google added.)

    I use browser isolation, everything Google on chrome, Microsoft on Edge, (Limited and specific FB on Brave) Everything else on Firefox. (Probably should spin out Amazon too at some stage, chromium perhaps?)

  27. Panicnow

    The Chinese govt look good here

    The Chinese govt have single-mindedly stopped these operators doing this stuff in China, acting totally in the interests of (their vision of ) Chinese society.

    Whereas Western governments appear to be "owned" by corporations.

  28. Lomax
    Boffin

    UnGoogle yourself

    If you've finally reached the conclusion that life without Google might be better, but don't know what to do about the spyware smartphone in your pocket:

    Jolla have just released Sailfish OS 4.2, their third release this year.

    It's really quite good.

  29. ST Silver badge
    Meh

    None of this is surprising really

    Why would anyone assume that Google would be any different than what's described in the article.

  30. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    'Either Google is screwed, or society is screwed'

    So where are we going? Fraud is normal these days, should we start prosecuting people who are not sending out phishing emails regularly? I remember seeing a phishing email about 20 years ago ... weird, I got another one later that year. Today my junk folder is full of phishing attempts and every day I see about half a dozen email "from" the mail server administrator telling me that I need to verify my password ... wait a moment, the phone's ringing...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Oh, my cars warranty has expired ... that's odd because it's a 12 year old car.

  31. IT Guy

    "journalism is gone" because most big media outlets were purchased by very big business with the agenda of controlling the narrative. Well, it isn't gone... as it is still physically there, but anyone that wants to use their own mind avoids most of these traditional media sources as that narrative is usually clearly false. When you know one or two news items are clearly wrong, the source can't be trusted which will lead to more and more viewers being gone.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      When you know the extent of misreporting regarding your own industry, it is amazing the media holds the power that it does.

      Articles have been written for sales since at least the 60s. Maybe longer. From earth to the moon made a great example of the tabloid tosh surrounding Apollo 13.

      Some reliable sources exist, el reg for example. But they tend to be rare, highly specialised and/or paywalled. Such is the price of actual intelligence on a given subject. Actual journos don’t come for nothing you know.

  32. JohnSheeran

    Time for the Butlerian Jihad.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flabby Writing

    "fine for big companies that are keen to keep their dealings away from the public, and politicians and criminals"

    More concise: "Fine for criminals that are keen to keep their dealings away from the public"

  34. Binraider Silver badge

    The grifting industry surrounding certain misinformation channels exists purely because google and FB allow them to earn revenue on it. As noted in the article, they don’t care about content. They want traffic.

    Tim Berners-Lee was, and is horrified. So how do we, the ones in the know move on? Adblock is a start,but how do we go further to reroute?

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