Google has answers for pretty much everything. If you are one of the 4.3 billion internet users, Google likely knows a lot about you too.
The data of personal information, preferences, likes/dislikes it collects from its browsers and services is mined to create ‘targeted advertising’ from other businesses, which is where Google makes most of its money, to the tune of billions of dollars. The tech titan is capitalizing on ‘network effects’ i.e. each additional user is making the company more valuable.
Google is the most popular search engine. It is estimated that the company dominates upwards of 80% of global search engine traffic. More than 75% of Americans use its services. The Alphabet Inc. owned company owns the Android operating system, popular sites like YouTube, and devices like Google Assistant. Besides providing services like Gmail, it has become a call-to-action – just ‘Google’ it.
The tech heavyweight has such a pervasive presence in our everyday lives that questions are being incessantly raised about the extent of its monopolistic dominance and influence over its consumers and customers.
According to the Americans who took part in the TIPP Poll, more than half were in favor of breaking up the company to prevent it from becoming a potential monopoly. Less than a third were opposed to the move. Less than a fifth were undecided.
- 54% support breaking up Google
- 29% opposed breaking up the company
- 17% were undecided on the matter
The survey found that some demographics were more in favor of preventing Google from becoming a monopoly. They are
- 62% of Urbanites
- 60% of white men
- 64% of Hispanics
- 61% of those with college education
- 59% of conservatives
- 58% of liberals
While consumer data translates to more accurate search results and relevant ads, it also means the tech giant can influence one’s choices; control one’s internet experience, and there is a possibility for data leaks and tracking.
The extent of Google’s dominance over the World Wide Web means it has every opportunity to behave and operate like a monopoly. By entering into billion-dollar contracts with device manufacturers and service providers to make Google the default search engine on browsers and Smartphones, it has effectively strangled the competition. It has used the same strategy with voice assistants and internet-connected services.
Such dominance hurts consumers, businesses, and advertisers. More than 30 U.S. states and territories have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google, alleging it has an “illegal monopoly.”
“Consumers are denied the benefits of competition, including the possibility of higher quality services and better privacy protections. Advertisers are harmed through lower quality and higher prices that are, in turn, passed along to consumers,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser about the lawsuit.
Google has come under fire for using mergers and investments to limit competition. The company bought out Waze, Nest, and DoubleClick that had the potential to grow into serious competitors. The company has the means and market dominance to demote or discriminate against sites and services of rivals.
Depending on how adept you are at managing your privacy settings (most of us are pretty sloppy at it, let’s admit), Google has access to everything from browsing history, videos viewed, online purchases, location history, online searches, and so much more.
Understanding ‘customer preferences’ means Google can manipulate what sites, news, or offers show up while browsing. The company has been accused of tracking its users and for its data collection practices. It can censor or promote content, services, news, and opinions based on advertising revenue or other considerations.
Every time you’ve ‘Googled’ anything, Google has learned something about you and most likely collected a nugget of data for its vast trove of information. Serious questions with broad implications are being raised about the role of the company and the wealth of personal information in its hands.
The TIPP Poll found that more and more Americans are very concerned about the reach and scope of such tech giants.
- 73% are concerned that personal data will be misused or compromised
- 73% are worried that they will have less privacy
- 73% think smaller businesses will be at a disadvantage
- 66% are worried they will not have access to news and opinions from different points of view
- 64% believe they will have limited freedom of speech and expression
The monopolistic tendencies of the tech behemoth have brought the divided nation together. There is bipartisan consensus that the government must step in to provide a better framework to protect the interest of the consumers.
The billion-dollar fines the company has been slapped with is an indication of things to come. With governments worldwide working on updating regulations, laws, and privacy policies, companies like Google may no longer be able to operate as they have been doing so far.
Given the plethora of services it provides and its presence in our everyday lives, it will be interesting to see how authorities will rein in one of the biggest Big Techs without disrupting the World Wide Web.
Trivia: Google has genuinely lived up to its name! Like its name, which is a creative way of spelling (or misspelling) googol, a mathematical term denoting the unfathomable number equal to 10 to the power of 100, the search engine can make accessible incredible amounts of information and has arcane bits of personal information about its users.
- Russia's media watchdog has threatened to slow down the speed of Google if it fails to delete what it calls "unlawful content."
- Roskomnadzor has given Google 24 hours to remove videos it says relate to drugs, violence, and extremism.
- Google - which owns YouTube - could be fined between 800,000 and 4 million roubles [$10,895 - $53771] by the service.
- The tech firm said it often requires court decisions to react to requests.
- Roskomnadzor sent more than 26,000 notices to Google to delete what it called "illegal information," the watchdog said in a statement reported by state-run news agency TASS.
- The statement also accused Google of restricting YouTube access to Russian media outlets, including RT and Sputnik, and supporting "illegal protest activity."
- Tensions are rising over iron ore, Australia's top export to China and an essential resource for the world's leading steelmaker.
- Australian ore exports of 713 million tons accounts for 61 percent of China's ore imports last year.
- China has run out of patience and options for punishing Australia, raising the risks for the iron ore trade as prices rise.
- Record prices for iron ore supplies have raised concerns about rising cost pressures in China's steel industry, even though Chinese demand has been the primary driver of the price increase.
- Last year, China's crude steel output surpassed 1 billion metric tons, a new high, as production increased 5.2 percent due to COVID recovery and infrastructure investment.
- The UN nuclear watchdog and Iran said an agreement to monitor Tehran's activities would be extended by a month until June 24, as world powers hold talks to revive a 2015 nuclear deal.
- Iran insists Washington must lift sanctions imposed after leaving the deal before Tehran pulls back its nuclear activities again.
- Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that the talks in Vienna depend on a "political decision" by the U.S. after Washington questioned Tehran's readiness to return to compliance with the accord.
- The aim is to finish negotiations ahead of Iran's presidential elections in mid-June.
- Demonstrators take to the streets to demand those responsible for the killing of 600 protesters be held to account.
- What kicked off as a hopeful wave of demonstrations in Tahrir Square saw tensions brew throughout the day and violence between protesters and security forces erupt early evening. One demonstrator has been shot dead, and dozens injured at the rally.
- Videos shared on social media showed tear gas, live fire, and chaos reminiscent of October 2019 when the nationwide social uprising first began and several protesters were shot dead by security forces.
- Since then, almost 600 demonstrators have been killed, and 35 activists have died in 82 targeted killings, according to the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR)
- The perpetrators have yet to be identified, but activists and demonstrators point the finger at Iraq’s rogue Iran-backed militias, whose presence demonstrators have called out.
- The ongoing killings and attacks on activists and journalists have sparked calls to boycott October’s parliamentary elections.
- Samoa journalists who stood their ground after being told by police to leave a parking lot at the Samoa Supreme Court should receive an apology, and an explanation of why they were not allowed in court, says the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.
- Members of the Samoa media gathered at Samoa's Supreme Court precinct on 24th May to cover an urgent 'meeting in chambers' between the Chief Justice and Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) were asked to leave the court premises.
- The Samoa Observer reports their reporter and other media professionals were asked by the police to "leave" the parking lot.
- The police said their bosses had ordered media to leave the court premises because the entire compound was in 'lockdown.'
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