Some Googlers shouldn’t be allowed to blog

Google is one of the bigger companies that’s very liberal with having their employees write on official product blogs. Almost all of Google’s products and services have their own official blog managed by Googlers. Matt Cutts is one such prominent Google blogger and whom I’m a huge fan of. His blog about search engine optimization is a blessing to legions of webmasters and bloggers.

However, this recent debacle between Google and Michale Moore over the latter’s film documentary called Sicko is one case why Google shouldn’t allow some of its employees to blog.

When Michael Moore’s documentary got leaked out on P2P networks before public showing, there was a lot of debate around it and the health industry. Google Health Advertising Team published a blog post (“Does negative press make you Sicko?” by Lauren Turner) with a negative tone against Sicko:

“While legislators, litigators, and patient groups are growing excited, others among us are growing anxious. And why wouldn’t they? Moore attacks health insurers, health providers, and pharmaceutical companies by connecting them to isolated and emotional stories of the system at its worst. Moore’s film portrays the industry as money and marketing driven, and fails to show healthcare’s interest in patient well-being and care.”

Her advice to companies in the health care industry is truly an act that goes along the lines of Google’s motto (“do no evil…”):

We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message.

I let out a smirk after reading that post. The advice makes good sense actually — it’s good for Google interest having more advertisers from the health care industry. If it were Yahoo or Microsoft, we wouldn’t react that much (just read all that blog posts ). But for a company who promises to do no evil, their position is totally a 180-degree turn away from it.

Google Mission Wall
One of Google’s self-proclaimed core values, displayed at Google Hamburg as well, is “Our business practices are beyond reproach,” followed by “We make money by doing good things.” – Philipp Lenssen.

Update: Lauren Turner followed it up with an apology and the Official Google admits to the shortcomings.


8 Comments

  1. truth machine /

    ” Matt Cutts … a huge fan of mine”

    How modest (or inept) of you.

  2. How clumsy of me — line corrected.

  3. I beg to disagree Abe. What’s so evil about pointing out the (perceived) flaws of Sicko, saying it’s the wrong way to do things, before showing how your product is a “better way”?

    Isn’t this—trying to convince advertisers of your service’s viability—just marketing in its most basic form?

  4. My point exactly, Rico — Google joined in the debate not because it cared about the health care industry. Google joined in to advertise their services. It’s like a coffin-maker knocking on a hospital bedroom of the just deceased pretending to give condolences and then pitches his company’s premium gold coffins.

    I’ll repeat my last statement: If it were Yahoo or Microsoft, we wouldn’t react that much (just read all that blog posts ). But for a company who promises to do no evil, their position is totally a 180-degree turn away from it.

    One of Google’s self-proclaimed core values is “Our business practices are beyond reproach,” followed by “We make money by doing good things.”

    Meanwhile, Lauren Turner followed it up with an apology and the Official Google admits to the shortcomings.

  5. Well, I agree that your coffin-maker analogy is a valid example of evil business practices (God knows how often that happens here).

    Still, I can’t find Google’s actions evil. Sure, they joined the debate (on their own blog at that) to talk about their services. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unconcerned about the health care industry. If you’re talking about how you can fill a need, doesn’t that imply a concern for the need itself?

    Granted, there are people who only care about business. Yet Lauren’s recent post isn’t “proof” for “conviction.” To automatically categorize Google’s advocacy of its own services as an evil business practice is a leap of logic.

    Regarding the links you’ve listed, both Google and Lauren have clarified their positions, saying that the latter’s opinions aren’t necessarily those of the former. Hardly an apology and admission of shortcoming IMHO.

  6. Oh, don’t take the “evil” word as in morally, hell-bound, anti-Christ evil. I used it in context to their motto “Do no evil.” as prefaced in their Investor Relations page. Think of it as the “evil” like anti-trust, monopolistic, capitalistic Microsoft like evil.

    Her follow-up post only indicates she doesn’t want her employer to take on her case. She called it a “spin”, CNN says the facts are correct. I call it a sell-out — defending capitalistic HMOs and advising them to advertise on Google.

    There are so many angles to this issue, but you can read the over 120+ blogs who weighed in on her point. That and Google finally backpedaled and inviting all 1,000+ employees to watch Sicko that Turner bashed earlier, if that doesn’t give you a hint of anything.

    Then again, just read the title of my post.

  7. I didn’t think the “evil” you were talking about was that evil. :lol: But thanks for clearing that up. Now your stance is much more clear to me.

    But if you’re Lauren, you just watched Sicko, and think that “Moore attacks health insurers, health providers, and pharmaceutical companies by connecting them to isolated and emotional stories of the system at its worst,” can you not propose a way to help companies fight what you really think is a one-sided attack?

    My point is, we shouldn’t be quick to condemn Google or Lauren as a sell-out or acting inconsistently with the “do no evil” motto. It could be just a harmless case of Lauren simply expressing her opinion, while highlighting a service that she believes will be helpful. Her infamous post isn’t that different from this, this, and that (pretty much all the posts so far). At least in terms of discussing a need (again, real or perceived), and showing how Google can address it.

    Honestly, I think this whole brouhaha developed because someone once again declared their opposition to Michael Moore. I’m not saying he’s totally wrong, but when someone talks about what they think he’s doing wrong, they get bashed. The latest victim is Google apparently. Even if a lot of other bloggers are attacking Google, I just don’t agree with them.

    The impression I got from Google’s post was that it invited its employees to watch Sicko before all this brouhaha happened. I mean, Sicko debuted last June 29. While this controversy developed some time the next day.

    As for your post’s main point, I really think the last thing Google should do is exercise more control over what their bloggers say. As someone said (Michael Arrington?), we’ll be losing a lot of insights into the operation of one of the most dynamic companies in existence today.

  8. moore is getting less .. when we received the award he shouted and speak up his views about their president , he turns the show into a den of crying wolf — booing at him . boh boh bohh

    i think more should stop his art before marilyn manson eats him alive ..

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