Home > Misc > 2009-11-10 We Are The Network: Is Google Destined To Become Evil?

2009-11-10 We Are The Network: Is Google Destined To Become Evil?

November 8th, 2009

Please join us for a discussion every Tuesday at 12PM noon SL (US Pacific Time)WeAreTheNetwork-istock-titled.001.150x88

This Tuesday, November 10, we will be at the Epoch Institute in Second Life
Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life

This Week’s Topic

“Is Google Destined To Become Evil?”

In Google’s 2004 SEC registration statement was this statement from the founders of Google, explaining the new pact that Google would make with the world, in order to ease concerns about privacy, control and security related to the services that were being constructed, as well as others to come later on. This statement has been widely referred to as Google’s goal to “Don’t Be Evil”:


Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company. Google users trust our systems to help them with important decisions: medical, financial and many others. Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective, and we do not accept payment for them or for inclusion or more frequent updating. We also display advertising, which we work hard to make relevant, and we label it clearly. This is similar to a well-run newspaper, where the advertisements are clear and the articles are not influenced by the advertisers’ payments. We believe it is important for everyone to have access to the best information and research, not only to the information people pay for you to see.


We aspire to make Google an institution that makes the world a better place. In pursuing this goal, we will always be mindful of our responsibilities to our shareholders, employees, customers and business partners. With our products, Google connects people and information all around the world for free. We are adding other powerful services such as Gmail, which provides an efficient one gigabyte Gmail account for free. We know that some people have raised privacy concerns, primarily over Gmail’s targeted ads, which could lead to negative perceptions about Google. However, we believe Gmail protects a user’s privacy. By releasing services, such as Gmail, for free, we hope to help bridge the digital divide. AdWords connects users and advertisers efficiently, helping both. AdSense helps fund a huge variety of online web sites and enables authors who could not otherwise publish. Last year we created Google Grants—a growing program in which hundreds of non-profits addressing issues, including the environment, poverty and human rights, receive free advertising. And now, we are in the process of establishing the Google Foundation. We intend to contribute significant resources to the foundation, including employee time and approximately 1% of Google’s equity and profits in some form. We hope someday this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world’s problems.


Google is not a conventional company. Eric, Sergey and I intend to operate Google differently, applying the values it has developed as a private company to its future as a public company. Our mission and business description are available in the rest of this prospectus; we encourage you to carefully read this information. We will optimize for the long term rather than trying to produce smooth earnings for each quarter. We will support selected high-risk, high-reward projects and manage our portfolio of projects. We will run the company collaboratively with Eric, our CEO, as a team of three. We are conscious of our duty as fiduciaries for our shareholders, and we will fulfill those responsibilities. We will continue to strive to attract creative, committed new employees, and we will welcome support from new shareholders. We will live up to our “don’t be evil” principle by keeping user trust and not accepting payment for search results. We have a dual class structure that is biased toward stability and independence and that requires investors to bet on the team, especially Sergey and me.”

As Google has grown, it has accumulated and centralized a previously unknown level of personal information, made it eminently searchable in seconds, and provided numerous services that are focused on accomplishing these goals. At the same time, the willingness of people to freely share personal information (often in return for services that have the appearance of being free to the individual) is based on a generalized belief that Google will forever hold to its mantra of “do no evil”.  Is this a reasonable assumption?  What if that assumption, that millions of us have taken as a reasonable risk, turns out to be false?

A phrase that appears as part and parcel of corporate and political governance discussions is “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”.  Is Google on the path to absolute power (or perhaps has reached it already?), and if so, what would stop this long known maxim from exerting itself over time?

In this session we will discuss the meaning of absolute power in the Internet age, how Google fits into the picture of privacy, security and trust, and discuss some possible scenarios, both good and bad, for how Google’s continued expansion might play out.

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon SL, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

Best regards,


Reading links below – have fun and see you soon!

Don’t Be Evil (reference on Wikipedia)

Origins of the phrase “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”

Google’s 2004 SEC Filing (search for “Don’t Be Evil” to find the section quoted)

Google May Know More About You Than Your Mother Does. Got a problem with that? (Robert L. Mitchell Computerworld)

Urgo’s Google World Domination Site

GoogleWatch “Google’s monopoly, algorithms, and privacy policies”

Google Decides To Offer Censored Search To China (“We actually did an evil scale”, decides this is less evil than serving no one in China)

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Please Note – Mixed Text and Voice Session:

We Are The Network is an open, mixed voice / text discussion session. Please feel free to participate in voice or in text, to your preference. The facilitator and some participants will be using voice, so you may wish to enable voice in your viewer so that you can hear the voice portions of the session.

To enable voice, choose Preferences from the Edit menu, click the “Voice Chat” tab along the left of the form, and then make sure that “Enable voice chat” is checked. Again, speaking is not required for this session, however if you do not enable voice, and use speakers or headphones, you will not be able to hear part of the discussion.

Thanks for attending!

Joel Foner (SL: Joel Savard)

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,
  1. Shannon Bohle
    November 9th, 2009 at 13:40 | #1

    Protect yourself by doing searches of your name and “your name” in quotation marks in various search tools.

    Helpful links to remove spam from search results are below. Be sure to fill out ALL information in the forms, including those listed as optional or you might get a follow-up email asking for that information.

    Google: http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html
    Yahoo!: http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/search/spam_abuse.html
    Altavista: http://www.altavista.com/help/contact/search

    These links don’t remove the web pages from the internet, they just help prevent them from showing up in a search results page. Permanently removing them is a bit trickier.

    Don’t forget about Web 2.0 spam too.

    Twitter: http://blog.twitter.com/2009/10/help-us-nail-spammers.html
    Spam Blogs: (Blogger): http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/request.py?hl=en&contact_type=spam

    Don’t forget about the FLAG feature available on many Web 2.0 sites.

    Web designers and administrators can do their part too.

    Bot Spam: (Captcha for website administrators):http://recaptcha.net/captcha.html
    Wiki Spam: (MediaWiki Extension:Blacklist for wiki administrators): http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:Blacklist

  2. Shannon Bohle
    November 9th, 2009 at 13:46 | #2
  3. JoelFoner
    November 9th, 2009 at 13:47 | #3

    Thanks Shannon! Looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday if you can make it.

  1. November 9th, 2009 at 15:52 | #1
  2. November 9th, 2009 at 16:11 | #2
  3. November 28th, 2009 at 22:31 | #3
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