The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)

Competition Policy and Antitrust and Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Siva Vaidhyanathan


University of California Press, 2011


Google dominates the way we navigate the Internet, offering Web search, email, video, and more. Most people trust Google, but dependence on Google may be dangerous. Google’s role is too important to leave to one private company.

Policy Relevance

Regulators should subject Google to strict antitrust scrutiny. Computer users’ privacy should be better protected.

Main Points

  • The inventors of airplanes and automobiles failed to plan for problems like Global Warming. By the end of the twentieth century our lives had been redesigned around these inventions.
  • Google grew by offering Web searches that ranked search results by popularity, and by controlling malware and pornography; today, Google squeezes out competing search engines and word processing services.
  • Google is not neutral; as a private company, its main duty is to its shareholders. In the long run, Google might value consumption, shopping, and distraction more than knowledge.
  • Trust in technology to solve all problems, “technology fundamentalism,” is misplaced.
  • Google’s core business is consumer profiling; Google does not make its use of personal information clear, and default settings favor maximum disclosure.
  • The failure of public institutions, “public failure,” happens when they are inadequately funded or undermined by political decisions.
  • Despite Google’s purported interest in free speech, Google shut down portions of its Chinese search engine, leaving government-backed search engines in control of the Web in China.
  • The funds and political will were lacking to create a universal digital library, so Google Books arose; however, Google paid no attention to quality or long-term preservation goals.
    • Google’s settlement with book publishers threatens competition.
    • Libraries and publishers have abandoned plans to create their own digital libraries.
  • Dependence on Google is changing the way researchers conduct research; scholars cite fewer sources, and tend to use only newer sources.


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