What if: google, blog blacklists?
Who remembers a bit ago when Google blacklisted CNET? I sure do. It made quite a stir in the blogosphere for a while. And why did this happen? Because CNET was talking naughty about Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Of course the story smacked with irony since the guilty CNETters actually gathered their dirty Schmidt secrets from... drumroll please: Google. Now, no one wants to be talked about negatively, but I read the article and didn't really see what Eric took offense to. And, come on Eric. You're CEO of arguably the most widely known brand on the internet. You'd think this guy would have thicker skin than this.
Anyway, I could spout on about Eric being a public figure, and thus fair game yadda yadda yadda, but I won't. I'd like to talk about a possible scenario involving Google blog search and blacklisting.
CNET is a reputable site with a lot of visibility and a pretty solid readership. It's proven a techie favorite over the years and thus has decent credability. How is that different from a high profile blogger who also has a solid readership, credability and influence? Guys that I follow like Scoble, John Battelle, Joel Spolsky, Jason Calacanis, Fred Wilson, Michael Parekh, and Seth Godin all meet the previously stated criteria. I'd bet that some of these guys have more industry influence than any CNET writer or editor. With that being said, what's the possibility of Google blacklisting a blogger? I know it would be political suicide for Google, but think about it. Let's say sweatyblog.com starts digging up dirt and posting about Larry Page and Sergey Brin, google will know about it. Heck I want them to know abou it. I need more readers. Seriously though, pretend I have thousands of dedicated readers who now start to create a negative buzz about the co-founders of google. These guys won't be too happy with Sweatyblog now will they? Of course I still say that people in executive management should have thick skin, but I still think they'd black list me. And what could I do? It's not as if they're trying to stifle my right to free speach, they'd just be indexing one less blog. My web traffic would all but cease and here I'd be left alone, posting to myself in a google-less world.
Perhaps I'm being paranoid, who would want to silence their naysayers? Exactly. Everyone would. Google is in a unique position that allows them to greatly muffle the negative cries of their peers, critics, and competitors.
Everyone knows that Google is the team to beat in web search (regardless of Yahoo says). Be honest, how many of you geeks use the word "google" as a verb? Google has done an amazing job of filling the search space. They brought simple and effective information queries to the web browsers and desktops of users across the globe. The majority of people I know (including my mother) use google for searches first and foremost. With that kind of influence and the ability to make someone totally disappear from their results, I predict the future will hold more blacklisting from google than we'd like to think. It's a scary thought, but entirely possible. You could be the next black listed CNET.
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Your analogy - the CNET-blacklist and a hypothetical blog blacklist is flawed. In the CNET case, Google does not blacklist CNET results from its search tools. Google says that it will not talk to CNET - this is different from censoring results. In fact several sites critical of Google show up on Google search... try a search for "google sucks" as an example.
I think the CNET case is more like "I don't like what you did... so I won't talk to you" - childish, but not evil :-)
Posted by: random | Sep 15, 2005 1:46:25 AM
True true true.
Couldn't that still happen though? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but really... It's feasible and actually reasonable to think that at some point they might do this. As W. Gates said, Google is on their honeymoon period right now. Once that ends and they're not the web's favorite widget, they'll become more defensive to criticism. Again, Microsoft is a great example. :)
Posted by: Scott | Sep 15, 2005 9:01:49 AM
Posted by: Scott | Sep 15, 2005 9:12:56 AM
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