This article will briefly review the history of Google company and analyse how it changes our economic, political and social relations. In this article’s definition, Google’s is a monopoly of network intermediaries, especially in a series of services based on search engines. Google almost completely occupies every field of information technology development. Therefore, this article will use historical methods to analyze Google’s development and conclude partial turning points in Google company’s history of development. The article structure includes four elements: 1. Google’s biography, 2. The flowchart of the Google service system, 3. Multi-angle analysis, 4. Bibliography.
Tags: Google, Alphabet, Search Engine, Privacy.
Biography of Google
As in the original founders’ letter mentioned in Page’s Alphabet annual report (2018), he stated “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” I believe Google’s long-term work is never-ending Internet information technology development, and their history can be described briefly as “developing technology to profit, then again”. The world’s largest Internet company provides a series of still-increasing technical services around the search engine, such as location sharing in Google maps, image cognition in Google images; Google Inc. emphasizes that unlike the traditional company, they never stay at finished industry only, but actively explore new fields. The above-mentioned Larry Page and Sergey Brin created the Google website in 1997 Sep 15, and in a short period of time, Google swelled through the page ranking algorithms in search engine services and officially became a private company in 1998 Sep 4th. After multiple times large-scale acquisition to other Internet companies (for example, Android in 2005 and YouTube in 2006); in 2015, Google established a parent company Alphabet as the “Umbrella company” (Page, 2015), that divert non-network investment for Google’s concentration in information technology. Alphabet’s Chief Executive Officer and the most important shareholder are still Larry Page, the founder of Google.
This thesis would concentrate on the Google company’s business models, I do believe Google has divided its development into two categories: services around information search, and software to set industry standards. The characteristics of these works are all based on the integration of user information. All of Google’s services enjoy the same account: while developing new services and not giving up the old ones, Google can simultaneously access the performance of individual users in different services. That means Google acts an intermediary for information and customers in the network; in this way, Google can continue to tap the potential of the Internet market based on information distribution and take advantage of the existing information channel with search services as its core. The main criticism of Google opponents is that they worry about Google’s hegemony as an engine (almost 90% global market share) that is very easy to make collectively damage in users. For example, Kerr ‘s work (2016) focuses on the right to be forgotten, because Google’s services are usually secretly collected user’s personal information for other purposes, and the recorded information may be ignored by the user while they feel that the things have been forgotten.
I want to show that if the information research channel of the Internet is controlled by Google, which means that the economic relations, in the information era, is controlled by Google at the same time. In the traditional economic system, our behavior is directly linked to the market, and the relationship between supply and demand largely reflects the price-led system of economic production. In the classic economy, money representing prices has absolute power over production activities. But in the Internet-based economic market, its core pricing system is determined by information rather than money. For example, you need to see an item on the Internet before shopping. If the search engine fails to display relevant information, you may never even know the item. This means that in modern economic relations, Google as an information intermediary will be more capable than a supplier/demander to determine the bargaining form. Alvarez León’s work (2016) describes “Digital information has posed particular challenges for the definition of property rights”, and he also cited Street View records [created by Google Maps] as an example to describe how the information economy is controlled by Google. In his case, if Google doesn’t have a commercial streetscape, it’s hard to be offered by other suppliers, but on the other hand, Google’s collection of streetscapes does have huge gains, and it’s hard for users or owners to save their own street view property rights. We see that power in economic relations has shifted from money to information. At least in the network-related field, the advantage of information may be more important than the ability to pay.
Does this mean that our situation is getting worse absolutely? It may not be. The advantages of Google’s control of economic relations will also be revealed at the same time, which is an enhancement of the ability to integrate information, and this increase may be beyond imagination. Elshendy & Colladon’s report (2017) pointed out that it is almost impossible to extract large amounts of data on a large scale in their economic research, in order to capture the Big data while saving costs, they used the Google BigQuery service. This is a platform provided by Google that allows quick queries on Big data sets, which means that web users can “share” Google’s advantages in data processing; although Elshendy & Colladon’s experiment was not completely successful, but I will argue the possibility that Google’s existing database can obtain a large sample of data by integrating global market segments, which also has an impact on economic relations. For example, Google Translate collects a large number of samples and integrates the language system, which will undoubtedly hit the existing translation employment market. It can be said that Google’s Big data analysis has “depreciated” the individual experience in economic relations.
According to Nielsen & Ganter’s suggestion (2017), “We use the term digital intermediaries to refer to companies such as Google and Facebook that have come to occupy central positions in the media environment…” I would like to conclude the coming problem as the influence based on the “central positions in the media environment.” It means we cannot ignore the influence of such a huge thing like Google, even if it is just a transfer of the market enough to cause political disputes. Nielsen & Ganter described digital intermediaries such as Google as an important part of the interaction of network information, so the online media often replaced the role of traditional media (such as printed newspaper). Does this mean that Google will replace the newspaper to complete the function of political propaganda? Not at all, Google offers different ideology services for different types of users in specific business models. A typical example I refer to is language-based service differences, for example, based on Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, Google provides different settings to meet political needs in “SafeSearch”. If you set Simplified Chinese as the language, the pornography blocking option will be automatically ticked, and the use of Taiwanese Traditional Chinese will not appear any online censorship automatically. This thesis doesn’t care the ideological speculation but concentrate on the automatic censorship. I will argue Google is able to decide what the user watching without notice – and Google thinks this makes sense. Returning to Nielson & Ganter’s work, they concluded that the independence of the media is gradually losing, but I don’t think it would be inevitably better while political propaganda replaced by online media platforms.
Is this “localization” mode according to the user market important to Google? We are not sure, but Google’s behavior is highly controversial. For example, in 2006, Google decided to conduct online censorship with Chinese law in order to obtain the friendship of the Chinese government. This was accused by US congressmen, as a political bribery to obtain the Chinese market (Rogers, 2018). This means that for multinational companies with market-leading power such as Google, they adopt different political policies in different places, and their political methods do not serve a particular ideology. This has greatly impacted the existing Internet culture and the principle of network neutrality. A theory against Google believes that Google is an American company that should obey the United States ideology. At the same time, considering that Google can conduct online censorship for political purposes, further doubts are whether Google can treat different web pages fairly. Reagle (2015) also points out that Google’s ranking of individual websites depends on the number of related links. In order to improve search content, the effectiveness of some of the older web pages may be dismissed by the engine to optimize relevant search results to a closer date. This means that, politically, Google’s information policy directly determines the ideology that Internet users can observe, and the related arrangements may be based on interests rather than moral values.
This section discusses the Internet changes that google brings may be useful for understanding social details, helping with cultural preservation, and reciews subsequent privacy issues. In modern research, sociologists have gradually developed a theoretical approach to sociological surveys based on information technology. Chykina & Crabtree’s work (2018) provide one example, using Google Trends to measure issue salience, especially the research based on hard-to -survey populations.
This figure recorded the frequency of the search phrase “will I be deported” in Google’s data from January 1, 2010, to December 1, 2017. My thesis concentrate on Google Trends can be used to examine social issues. It means the academic contribution really happened in Google’s service and can be explored by every person. Although Google Trends’ data receipts only began in 2004, from a future perspective, it is likely to gradually collect all the data from birth to death. This is extremely beneficial for social development statistics, and it is likely to benefit our perception of our society in the perspective of big data. However, this has also caused anxiety about the development of technology, should the search tendency be defined as privacy? This is different from the browsing history/street view discussed in the previous section. While our discussion is based on Google’s own data collection, it does not involve any individual behavior, but it shows the collective behavior of a certain group. I think this trend analysis absolutely redefine social relations, if you can better understand the other people in society in the form of groups.
Although this data record is useful, is the good performance in Google’s business model inevitable? I am afraid not necessarily. Chalmers & Edwards (2017) discussed a Google company’s early work on library digitization, which was very beneficial for cultural preservation; but at the same time, they accused Google of showing a transparent black box problem in the process: lack of communication, and it is difficult to maintain a continuous quality in the process of digitization to meet the needs of the algorithm. I think this evidence proves that Google may have as much damage as its contribution to social and cultural records. It is hard to predict how much of the data you have accepted has been inadvertently modified by Google. Another example of the moral value of technological development is Kudina & Verbeek’s research (2018), who are more concerned with the social impact of personal privacy in Google glasses and YouTube. They stated the augmented reality brought by Google glasses can be combined with online and offline. The world under the influence of our society through the form of information control and YouTube is a typical example of ethnographic methods in the online community. I think they all show a unique social relationship, which is highly integrated with network information technology: it is difficult for you to protect your privacy to participate in the community.
This article briefly describes Google’s history as the core of technology development, and its leader Larry Page emphasizes the importance of Google’s technological innovation (and leadership). In economic relations, Google company has redefined the bargaining system in the market and enhanced the information collection; in political relations, Google company provide propaganda instead of the old political media, but it lacks a fixed ideology; in social relations, Google company records and shares the overall behavioral trends of society with everyone, and it also increases the difficulty of protecting personal privacy.
Alvarez León, L. F. (2016). Property regimes and the commodification of geographic information: An examination of Google Street View. Big Data & Society. [Online] https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951716637885, CC-BY-NC 3.0
Chalmers, M. K., & Edwards, P. N. (2017). Producing “one vast index”: Google Book Search as an algorithmic system. Big Data & Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951717716950, CC-BY 4.0
Chykina, V., & Crabtree, C. (2018). Using Google Trends to Measure Issue Salience for Hard-to-Survey Populations. Socius. https://doi.org/10.1177/2378023118760414, CC-BY-NC 4.0
Elshendy, M., & Colladon, A. F. (2017). Big data analysis of economic news: Hints to forecast macroeconomic indicators. International Journal of Engineering Business Management. https://doi.org/10.1177/1847979017720040, CC-BY 4.0
Kerr, J. (2016). What is a search engine? the simple question the court of justice of the european union forgot to ask and what it means for the future of the right to be forgotten. Chicago Journal of International Law, 17(1), 217.
Kudina, O., & Verbeek, P.-P. (2018). Ethics from Within: Google Glass, the Collingridge Dilemma, and the Mediated Value of Privacy. Science, Technology, & Human Values. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243918793711, CC-BY-NC 4.0
Lumapoche, L. (2018). Google arts work. [Image] Pixababy 2018 Nov 10 Available at https://pixabay.com/photo-2650906/, CC0 1.0
Nielsen, R. K., & Ganter, S. A. (2017). Dealing with digital intermediaries: A case study of the relations between publishers and platforms. New Media & Society, 20(4), 1600–1617. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817701318, CC-BY-NC 4.0
Page, L. (2015). Alphabet is for Google. [Online] Alphabet 2018 Oct 30 Available at https://abc.xyz/, All rights reserved.
Page, L. (2018). Q4 & fiscal year Annual Report. [Online] Alphabet Investor Relations 2018 Nov 2 Available at https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1652044/000165204418000007/goog10-kq42017.htm, All rights reserved.
Rogers, R. (2018). Aestheticizing Google critique: A 20-year retrospective. Big Data & Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951718768626, CC-BY 4.0
Reagle J (2015) Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web, Cambridge: MIT Press. Available at https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?hl=en&publication_year=2015&author=J+Reagle&title=Reading+the+Comments%3A+Likers%2C+Haters%2C+and+Manipulators+at+the+Bottom+of+the+Web