re: Are we Developers helping Google to build an unstoppable monopoly? VIEW POST


I appreciate you bringing this topic up for discussion.

I used to be a Google fanboy having owned and used:

  • 2 Google Pixels
  • 1 Google Pixelbook
  • 1 Chromebook
  • 3 Google Homes
  • 3 Google WiFis
  • Google Search enging
  • Google Chrome browser
  • Docs
  • Slides
  • Sheets
  • Photos
  • Drive
  • Maps
  • Opinion Rewards (literally free money)
  • Keep
  • Calendar
  • ...etc

After several Facebook data breaches brought to light how much data these companies have on consumers, I realized and decided I needed to be more conscious and protective of my data and my identity online.

But, I noticed a trend in the comments/arguments leveraged by proponents and opponents of Google and I want to help align the conversation and move it in the right direction.

Argument #1: Free Services

Nothing is free. You pay for the services whether you know it or not.

With these so-called "free services", you might be giving up a fairly large amount of personal data (name, age, address, phone, conversations in Gmail, documents in Drive ...etc, pictures in Photo, geolocation in apps & hardware ...etc).

I mean, take a look at Google Drive's Privacy Policy:

Google Drive Privacy Policy

Since companies have to make money one way or another, they'll either make money off of their consumers directly, or they'll collect data from their consumers to sell it to other companies.

Argument #2: Convenience

I mean, at one point, it was so convenient for you to log into any Google service or app (e.g. Gmail, YouTube) and Google would automatically log you into the Chrome browser.

Of course, it is convenient. After all, it is in the best interest of Google and their likes to be as convenient as possible in centralizing, aggregating, collecting as many data points on individuals as possible to drive their revenue.

But convenience is not limited to companies that offer free services. Apple's closed ecosystem is known to be very convenient. I can visit a site on mobile Safari and pick up right where I left off on my MacBook, for example.

So, you can have privacy and convenience, if you're willing to pay with money for the privacy part, because companies have to make money somehow (see Argument #1)

Argument #3: Business Model

Speaking of revenue, let's not forget that Google's primary revenue model is the same as Facebook's; advertising. Keep that in mind when reading anything Google tries to promote (remember Google Amp Project?)

So, really, I'd like to pose a different question when discussing Google/Facebook/[INSERT COMPANY HERE]:

What is the product? Is it you, the consumer? Or is it the service you're using?


Yes to all that!

I think I can save myself a comment now, I just agree with everything you said. Nothing is free.

I have two problems with Google/FB/Ad business model (which by the way, Apple isn't using).

Disingenuous Business model.

"Our services are free". No, this is a lie. They are not free. They are paid for by advertisers who pay for your data, which we happen to have pretty much a monopoly on. We own your data.

Maybe I'm just really picky, but I don't like lies. Google and Facebook's services start out with a lie.

Apple: We're selling you hardware. You can buy it, or not. If you think it's overpriced, don't buy it, if you think it's a good value, buy it. This is an honest business model. Apple makes almost all of its money off hardware. They can afford to be good guys - their business model allows them to.

It is necessary to become more and more evil over time.

Both Facebook and Google were founded by good people with good intentions. However, the advertising / user tracking / selling user data business model is an inherent force function towards evil. Google has had so much information on anyone and everyone they don't want you to know how much, ever. Even in the beginning. They pick and choose what they make use of - like figure out what people like and show them relevant ads - and what they don't make use of - Eric Schmidt famously cited that Google doesn't play the stock market even though they have so much info they could do that very successfully. Facebook had no ads initially.

However business has to grow, shareholders need more profits, more growth, and so they are forced to tap more and more unethical jars over time. There's no way around it. It's inherently built into the business model. And ethical employees and execs might stand in the way... for a time... but the machine has its own momentum and will not stop until the last bit of info is going to be used.

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