Google Bans CNet

I’ve mentioned in the past that Google was going to step into it’s own poop with their “Do No Evil” nonsense. Well, one way to help things along is to ban a well-recognized publication from talking to you for a year.

Google has decided to stop talking to CNet after a story highlighted how easy it is to dig up personal information on someone through Google. To illustrate, they Googled Eric Schmidt, their CEO.

In response, Google has decided that CNet will not be spoken to for one year. Lovely.

Of course, this story has seeped out of the blogosphere and into the mainstream press, which generally speaking, loathes this sort of arbitrary boycotting. The New York Times as well as the major news wires have picked it up.

Now, the metaphysical question we’re left with is: Did Google do something evil? Who are we to draw that sort of conclusion? It seems like a bit of an over-reaction; bordering on almost childish behavior. Does it merit all this press and attention? Probably not. Which I think leads us to the real problem for Google: it ain’t about what you did, it’s about perception. Their cheery, almost candy-like image is going to actually work against them when issues like this arise.

Hey, we didn’t raise the (perceived) bar. They did.

In other news, Howard Stern(?) has filed a class action suit against Google for allegedly fudging around with AdWords fees. Read all about it.

5 Comments Google Bans CNet

  1. John Dowdell

    “…this story has seeped out of the blogosphere….”
    Hmm. All I’ve seen is a single sentence of source evidence in a CNET article last week. Over the weekend there have been reams of opinion in weblogs, but all I’ve actually seen has been a single sentence of assertion from CNET, and I’ve not seen any response from Google.
    Have you seen other source evidence, hidden within all the subsequent writing on the subject…?
    tx, jd

  2. googlicious

    thats because its crap, and unless we’re going to shut down the web, then its a non story.
    The bottom line is that google only brings back whats publicly available. However as much crap as I have on the web, I defy anybody but a hacker to go find any sensitive info about me from google. I know the hacks, and I’ve worked them. If the info simply isnt available, then nobody will find out about your hampster pron issue, or that you spam weblogs with crap all day everyday, etc.

  3. Richard Ziade

    Are you saying the story is potentially false? I know Google hasn’t commented on it (yet).
    My general point is that they’re kinda setting themselves up for this higher level of scrutiny by over-reaching with the “warm & fuzzy” image they’ve tried to foster.
    Do other companies do this? I.e. decide not to talk to certain publications for X period of time?

  4. John Dowdell

    Richard, I’m not sure of the story either way yet — I’ve seen a lot of strong opinions on it over the weekend, and am wondering whether I missed another piece of source evidence. All I’ve seen is that one line at the end of a CNET story Friday. Are there any more statements from any of the principals…?
    (I don’t know about the PR policies of various companies. I do know there’s a normal frustration when stories regularly come out with, ah, uhm, err, well, significant potential for improvement, lemme put it that way. How to deal with such situations is an ongoing problem. But I have zip info on this story, myself… just saw a lot of blog comment this weekend and wondered if there was more evidence, context, explanation than just that one line in a Friday article.)
    I checked at, but this blog doesn’t seem to address many current issues — one-way convo. had a little bit but he’s a Google staffer from Pyra, and it’s more a personal blog. But after I see all the weblog conversation I wondered if I missed a confirmation somewhere else…?

  5. Richard Ziade

    If it isnn’t true, that’s still a very lousy piece of news to have out there. If major publications are writing abou it – New York Times, etc. – then, in my opinion, the damage is already done.
    You’d think if it weren’t true, Google would’ve formally responded by now (before the thing ends up a blurb in some national news magazine).


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