Can You Walk In Google’s Shoes?

Isn’t it funny how easy it is to negatively say things about something or someone?  Especially when that something is a big business entity like Google.  When it comes to their search results, it’s easy to complain that Google shouldn’t be doing this or that they should be doing that.  Realistically, it’s much harder to make big decisions that you realize, especially when you understand all of the involved implications.

 Below, there is a special session of a SMX West search marketing conference that was done earlier this year.  A range of scenarios was put to the audience by Patrick Thomas and Matt Cutts, Google’s search policy specialist and head of Google’s web spam fighting team, respectively.

  • A woman commits suicide. She leaves a note online, which then ranks tops for her name. Her family wants it removed. Do you take it down?
  • Do you remove graphic and violent content, such as war footage, which can be both shocking yet also have redeeming values?
  • You have a picture of Ho Chi Minh’s wife that you show within a fact card, but the Vietnamese government tells you this isn’t true, despite others saying it is. Do you remove it?
  • MartinLutherKing.org is a white-supremacist site that ranks well for “Martin Luther King,” in part because of many schools linking to it, assuming it’s somehow honoring the civil-rights leader. Do you change those rankings?
  • What if a search for vaccines brings up 9 out 10 top listings that are against them, because anti-vaccine campaigners are more vocal than those that accept them?
  • When auto-complete suggestions present stereotypes about countries, races or religions, do you censor those?
  • Someone doesn’t like a picture of them online and wants it removed from Google’s listings. Do you do it? What if it’s a newsworthy photo?

There are other scenarios to take a look at as well.  Here is the video: