Google is the Internet

Jan 2023

A public for-profit company has become synonymous with the internet and it is a big problem for users.

When Google first created their search engine product it was a breath of fresh air for users navigating the complex landscape of internet search engines. Yahoo, Altavista, Ask Jeeves, AOL — amongst others were fighting for market share and inundated users with ads. In comes Google with a clean, accurate search engine and it quickly becomes a favorite with users. Fast forward 20 years and Google now processes 93% of all web searches worldwide.

And that is just search.

Google also has nearly 2 billion users on its email platform, 1 billion users active on its maps platform, and nearly 70% of internet users choose to run their Chrome web browser.

While the past 20 years has been a huge expansion of technology and Google has very importantly contributed to that innovation, there is a risk of a shareholder controlled company having such reach and control.

As a firm that is familiar with subtle details of the internet, we have started to notice some concerning trends in decisions that Google has made that are not in the best interest of the internet as a whole.

A few small examples of this are (I’m sure there are more):

  • Google has discontinued their widely used Google Translate service to force users to utilize translation services that are built into the Chrome web browser.
  • Google has started penalizing websites for load time if sites are not using their custom font solution (Bye, Bye Typekit).
  • Google highly preferences websites that are simple for its search engine to crawl, even if it isn’t in the best interest of the business the site represents.
  • Google ads are now controlling user behavior on the web more than they ever had, with organic search results getting pushed into obscurity down the page.
  • Data-privacy concerns continue to plague Google with the EU leading the charge to have them make changes for the good of all users.

While these issues likely go undetected for the vast majority of users — its a shift that is concerning — one that is showing early signals of “absolute power, corrupting absolutely”.

I hope that we all keep in-mind that not just Google, but many large companies (Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, etc) that make our lives so convenient are ultimately in it to provide a return for their shareholders. Any publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to make as much profit as possible. Often times there is alignment of interests and profits, but the larger a company gets the more “fuzzy” that “win for all” becomes.

At Floodlight we are committed to acting in the best interests of our clients and helping them navigate the changing digital landscape. If your business is looking for help navigating these challenging digital waters lets start a conversation.