Donald J. Trump is The President, and we realize that this is going to be inherently political, but this is more of a how-to guide rather than a slam post. I’m going to **try** and keep my feelings in check about this and just keep it on the technical merits. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and just get smacked in the face with a handful of stupid before the covfefe is ready.
That moment you realize when you aren’t as popular as the people around you let on.
My first clue that Donald Trump didn’t know anything about the Internet was in one of the GOP debates. I believe the candidates were talking about how much money was wasted launching healthcare.gov and Trump goes off about how many websites he has had built, how cheap they are etc. says something about GoDaddy (strike one), $3 plus fries. I forgot how bad this is. Very bad.
First of all, GoDaddy sites are a pedal car compared to healthcare.gov is a fancy RV. Health Care is complex on a scale that GoDaddy websites just cannot compare to. But the kid in the pedal car thinks they can drive because they can spin the steering wheel, flash the lights, and honk the horn.
Trump does own a couple thousand domains to help protect his brand, so he has some experience in this, and it implies that he should really know better. Some of the domains include terms like, “fraud,” and you can connect the dots and see that someone around Trump knows a little something about SEO.
It’s about a toss-up if Trump even launched with SSL. Maybe it was just an opt-in for a time-share sales seminar or Trump University, we have no way to be certain what Trump was talking about, and we can all be equally certain that Trump doesn’t know what Trump is talking about.
The news cycle is what it is, people’s interests are what they are. If you want more people talking about a new trade deal with Mexico instead of something more interesting, like, oh let’s just say, paying hush money with allegedly illegal campaign contributions to pornstars and Playboy Playmates, it’s incumbent upon you to make it more interesting.
Which is exactly what this Tweet is intended to do. This is just part of the Trump misdirection and we are so very sorry for participating.
So you think Google is rigged.
It kind of is, in a sense, it has rules and it favors people who follow the rules, especially in the Google News section. I looked at the results and the search results and news results seem pretty normal. CNN and Washington Post felt the same. It’s a big nothing-burger. Not even really worth getting into the technical details of because it is so plain to see on its face.
There are negative stories about Trump because they exist, people share the negative emotions and anxiety and are interested in Trump and the stories change all the time.
But you will find that this story about Google results is now top of the news and not whatever it was yesterday. Oh yeah, allegedly illegal campaign contributions.
It’s not just about sending out press releases or Tweets. The White House does plenty of both, but they aren’t getting as much traction as other stories. People still need to take you up on the offer or show interest and that is largely hard-wired in psychology. Pornstars, Playmates, and Presidents are always going to be more interesting than SEO and what Google is serving up for News today and how the algorithm works.
Google has made a lot of free products that help website owners and publishers deliver a high-quality experience to site visitors and offers a way to get your content discovered. It’s a largely symbiotic relationship that benefits both parties and users, the only problem is Google keeps most of the money and newspapers are going out of business.
Ok, it’s maybe not so symbiotic.
And even if it was truly symbiotic it would not be an excuse for other bad behavior. Please don’t try to Catholic Church or Lance Armstrong your way out of this. Sure, there is a lot of good works but like two wrongs don’t make a right, a preponderance of good deeds won’t make up for the damage we cause directly to individuals.
It’s more than search, but search still pays for everything else at Alphabet. It’s all about billions of dollars worth of AdWords and where that revenue goes. Google is almost as large as their name implies and they have been attempting to build themselves into the A to Z of infrastructure of the information economy as Alphabet. It’s not just search, it’s telecommunications, Fiber, smart electric meters, AI to identify everything from people to defective products on an assembly line, and recently AI to aid weaponry.
Google may need regulation or possibly breaking up, but not because they have a monopoly on search. Search and Social Media are the two largest drivers of traffic on the Internet,and they have been roughly equal with a slight edge to social until recently. Let’s say for easy math Google controls 75% of search (a generous estimate), that is only 3/8 of all referral traffic right? Even Amazon gets a fair amount of search if you segment product searches, which is a really great segment, people with their wallets out.
Doesn’t really feel like a monopoly when you explain it with s̶t̶a̶t̶i̶s̶t̶i̶c̶s̶ basic arithmetic, but who are these people who are using Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines?
I swear I have never met one.
It feels like a search monopoly and Google has Android as a platform with their products built-in. Not to mention Google has been tracking you without consent with impunity and then selling your data and saying, “you’re welcome” while they get rich off of your data. Meanwhile we all keep using Google for search and letting Google crawl our website content. The growing length of featured snippets in Google is troubling to many in publishing and digital marketing.
I don’t believe Trump has any interest in regulating Google outside of his own narrow self-interest, and that could have dire consequences for everyone on the planet. Nor do I believe that the US Federal Government has the expertise or ability to pass effective legislation to regulate search engines. Once again we find ourselves at the mercy of politicians who have more power than they have knowledge and understanding. Maybe the Feds can break up Alphabet and stop search money from going to dominate other fields, but I don’t see how the results page gets regulated without essentially prescribing the results themselves.
Google isn’t likely to get an “equal time” requirement like other media companies, pretty sure that Google owns their search results and index, but if they get classified as a utility who knows what could happen. The troublesome thing is that Google is already working on censorship for China. Some employees are quitting over it and the weapons programs also. Google is having a reckoning with with its own value system.
Same with Facebook. Just saying you are a “platform,” because it has no legal definition, doesn’t mean that you aren’t a media company. Facebook might as well call themselves a, “platypus,” for all the difference it makes.
One thing is certain, Facebook, Google, and Amazon are becoming critical infrastructure for everyone in the world, not just these United States. Please exercise critical thinking skills and maintain a healthy level of skepticism while on the Internet. And please try to be kind, there are people out there.
UPDATE: If you are interested in how Google News actually works, please read: Google News vs Donald Trump: Bias in Google’s Algorithms? by Barry Adams