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The Open Secret of Google Search

Accepted submission by fliptop at 2022-06-21 11:48:04
Techonomics

Over at The Atlantic, Charlie Warzel [theatlantic.com] wonders if Google Search is becoming a victim of its own success [theatlantic.com]:

In February, an engineer named Dmitri Brereton wrote a blog post [dkb.io] about Google’s search-engine decay, rounding up leading theories for why the product’s “results have gone to shit.” The post quickly shot to the top of tech forums such as Hacker News and was widely shared on Twitter and even prompted a PR response from Google’s Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, refuting one of Brereton’s claims. “You said in the post that quotes don’t give exact matches. They really do. Honest,” Sullivan wrote in a series of tweets [twitter.com].

Brereton’s most intriguing argument for the demise of Google Search was that savvy users of the platform no longer type instinctive keywords into the search bar and hit “Enter.” The best Googlers—the ones looking for actionable or niche information, product reviews, and interesting discussions—know a cheat code to bypass the sea of corporate search results clogging the top third of the screen. “Most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust,” Brereton argued, therefore “we resort to using Google, and appending the word ‘reddit’ to the end of our queries.” Brereton cited Google Trends data that show that people are searching the word reddit on Google more than ever before.

[...] Google has built wildly successful mobile operating systems, mapped the world, changed how we email and store photos, and tried, with varying success, to build cars that drive themselves. This story, for example, was researched, in part, through countless Google Search queries and some Google Chrome browsing, written in a Google Doc, and filed to my editor via Gmail. Along the way, the company has collected an unfathomable amount of data on billions of people (frequently unbeknownst to them)—but Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is still primarily an advertising business. In 2020, the company made $147 billion [cnbc.com] in revenue off ads alone, which is roughly 80 percent of its total revenue. Most of the tech company’s products—Maps, Gmail—are Trojan horses for a gargantuan personalized-advertising business, and Search is the one that started it all. It is the modern template for what the technology critic Shoshana Zuboff termed “surveillance capitalism.” [bookshop.org]

The article goes on at length about ruthless commercialism via ever-intrusive ads, constant tweaks to the search algorithm, and how different generations use the ubiquitous search engine.

Previously:
Google's Ad Business Could Finally Crack Open [soylentnews.org]
Google Allegedly Hid Documents From Search Monopoly Lawsuit, DOJ Claims [soylentnews.org]
EU and UK Open Antitrust Probe Into Google and Meta Over Online Ads [soylentnews.org]


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