Thought Exercise, If you were this company….

how would you feel if someone came in and tried to change how you did business? Should you be punished for creating a company that people want to use, even if it makes it harder for other businesses to compete?

I remember first learning about business in middle school and high school and the first thing I learned was that if you had a brilliant idea then you could turn that into a business then people will want to buy and use it. But the reality of that is not true in this world, many large successful companies are finding that if you get too big and make it extremely difficult for new companies to enter the market then you need to be broken up and regulated by the government, in any country you do business in.

Now most people would agree with that statement but the notion is actually wrong if it existed within a flawless environment. Unfortunately people run companies and people are humans and humans make mistakes. If a company was run for the purpose of fulfilling their mission goals and providing a solution to the problem they intended to fix (hence why you started your company in the first place) then there would be no reason to let greed cloud your judgement, but greed does cloud a public company’s judgement and they do it badly in the form of so-called shareholders (aka. investors). Shareholders want to see a company make a profit at every turn so that means they must innovate all the time and sell something that consumers want, even if this means expanding into areas that can compromise their own way of doing business, almost like walking into a mine field, knowing very well you could blow yourself up at any minute but because there is a pile of cash at the end, you feel the risk is worth the rewards.

Well this one company has taken that road and because of their eagerness to expand, but also because of their extreme efficiency in getting people want they want, they are now mired in a complex web of problems. I would say these are problems that are extremely, if not almost impossible to fix, especially if you do not understand how these systems work in the first place.

I wrote an article about this whole issue after the courts ruled in favor of it’s citizens, entitled The Pandora’s box of Search Engine Requests. Here is the problem, if you are a company that provides excellent search results and people have sought you out to use you, why should you be forced to changed? The whole issue started when a spanish lawyer in Spain complained that anytime someone searched his name online all his past history of news would show up, including past debts and personal information. He felt he had a right to have that information removed because it harmed his reputation. He won the case and now Google has to comply with removing requests from people who say there is information that is inaccurate, not just because they want it gone, but they have to show valid reason.

If you see where this issue is a problem then good for you, but it gets worse. If a news station was to right an article about someone then the person, who the article is written about, can request to have that article removed, if it damages their reputation, whenever someone searches their name, so news companies have to remove links, but here is where it gets even more problematic. A news company has a right to report the news and have those links reinstated because it validates their story. They can relink, or go around, to other pieces of information. This becomes the old Whack-a-Mole problems times a billion. Just because Google removes a link that one person requested, does not stop anyone else from relinking again. But why should Google have to do this if their job is to know everything that is happening on the internet? That is their purpose of being the number one rated search engine in the world.

As an entrepreneur you have to consider this for your business. If you impede on someone else’s life and you get in trouble for it, and even though it is fine in one area of business but not in another, should you change? The answer is no, and most who read that would say, “yea but if the law says they have to change because of a court ruling then they have to change.” Yes I get that, I’m totally aware of how that all works. Just writing this article requires google spiders to scan this article and put another piece of information about the person who wishes to be forgotten out on the internet again. If Google’s job is to know everything on the internet and if his name is on the “Right-To-Be-Forgotten” list then is google required to omit his name from this article every time it pops up?

Here is where the problem get worse, AGAIN, many historians are now seeing how this issue is a HUGE problem. If a student wanted to learn about a famous person today and they wanted to learn everything they did to become who they are now they can search online and read every article about them that is on the internet. The E.U. ruling would basically not allow that student to be able to find anything bad, or close to ruining their reputation, about that person if they requested it to be removed. Now understand the article is not actually deleted from the internet, it still exists, it’s just not allowed to be reported in search results when someone searches for them. It exists in the dark parts of the internet. This right that causes a HUGE ethical and moral dilemma because now history is being rewritten online about people. If you think people are going to be pushed to use paperback encyclopedias to find out about stuff you are joking yourself. Everyone uses the internet to find out the truth, and Wikipedia’s job is to store the accurate truth about any person or topic, that is what an online crowdsourced encyclopedia is for. Infact there is now a page that has links of Wikiepedia articles that google removed from their search results to show the damage that is being done by this ruling. Whack-a-mole all over again.

So if there was an article written about the spanish lawyer, using his real name, on Wikipedia and it shows the history of how he got there then people have a right to learn about that, but the court ruling in Europe would prevent the wikepedia article from linking to ANY past information about him. That shouldn’t happen because then people can create fake histories about themselves and only cast themselves in a positive light and as we all know, not everyone is honest about what they say.

The European Ruling has caused more damage in this world then good. But you have to understand why. Court rulings in Europe are based on individual rights, whereas, in America, our court rulings are based on the greater good for everyone. Google’s nightmare of this court ruling will only get worst because of the lack of understanding the European Union has for how search engines work and the internet in general. People want the truth when they search online. Here in America we have websites that allow you to run back-ground checks on anyone you meet, which is a safe thing to do if you plan to go on a date with someone you met online or hiring someone to work in your home. In Europe that would not even be allowed because people now have the right to be forgotten. So finding any kind of information on someone would be impossible, especially from an employer stand point. You need to know this information. Does that mean company’s would be allowed to search the “truth” online to find out that person’s real history before hiring them?

People in Europe are also complaining that Google favors its results for Google’s own products rather than other companies in Europe. It’s not Google’s fault that those companies’ don’t understand how SEO works so why should they be blamed for other company’s mistakes? They shouldn’t but they are and it shows by how Europe is treating Google and any Internet Search Company, so this ruling is not just for Google but for all search engines that operate within the European Union and it’s outer regions. In the article, “Discussing Online..” a question is asked about whether there is any role the right-to-be-forgotten had in the real world and social media and judging by the answer to the question, they truly feel there is nothing wrong with the court ruling and the leading damage it will have on the history of people in the European Union.

So if you were Google, how would you react to what the European Union is demanding of your company? It’s your job to know everything that is happening on the internet, that is why people use your service. If the court ruling now favors you to remove and de-list information from the internet, won’t that mean people will have to use other services that find the removed content? This means less business traffic for you? Shouldn’t the courts reimburse you for damages? (Wishful thinking but a very true idea)

This is the problem you must consider when starting any company, if you get too large and everyone uses your services and products, where will the backlash come from? Because it will, it will always come from the group that made a mistake and is crying fowl and they need someone to blame. If you don’t think this will effect American google search results, think again.

Read these two articles and think about if you were them, how would you react to what is happening. If you wish to understand exactly how search engines work, you can read this article.

News Articles

Google is Target of European Backlash

Discussing Online “Right-To-Be-Forgotten”

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