05 May 2007

Forgiving Google

It's been more than a year since VCBC decided to boycott Google Ads for hypocritically stiffing the US Government hunting for internet child pornographers in order to give the false impression to Westerners that Google was a defender of human rights. At the same time, Google was knuckling under to the Chinese government by deleting all references that might help pro-democracy dissidents. Google could have done worse. Yahoo is being sued on behalf of Chinese citizens for providing information to the Chinese government that led to their illegal (under international law) imprisonment.

But you get the picture. Google's major competitors haven't distinguished themselves either. Instead of fulfilling Tom Friedman's prophecy that the internet would lead to greater freedom on earth, they are enabling it to be used as a tool of oppression as well.

So has our boycott been effective? Our search engine ratings, traffic, and revenues have declined. But the effect on Google has been absolutely nil. We made our point, and took our hit. Now we have decided to forgive Google, renew our advertising, and take our cut.

Our boycott was futile. On the other hand, the lawsuits over contributing to false imprisonment are probably not. They put the calculus of whether to cooperate with despots directly into the profit and loss columns. Web portals may still decide that it is more lucrative to cooperate with tyranny, but it will now cost them something to do it.

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