[LINK] Is Google a spammer?

Stilgherrian stil at stilgherrian.com
Mon Dec 18 10:36:11 AEDT 2006

Could the most popular search engine Google, which claims it can make money
without doing evil, be engaged in spamming? Recent activity would suggest so
-- and they certainly have both motive and opportunity.

Over the last week, roughly 25% of the comment spam bots attacking my blog
at http://stilgherrian.com have linked back to Google -- some even include
the text ³Google is the best search engine²!


Microsoft recently released Internet Explorer 7 and flagged it as a
³critical update², so every properly-configured Windows PC will download it
automatically. The user has to confirm this action, but my experience is
that the vast majority of users will always click a button labelled ³OK² --
usually without reading what it does.

One new feature of IE7 is a search box. Now Firefox has had this feature for
ages. Both browsers allow you to choose which search engine you use. But
while Firefox is initially set to use Google, IE uses (surprise surprise!)
Microsoft¹s Windows Live Search -- unless you take specific action to set it
to something else.

So right now millions of Internet users could be switching to Windows Live
Search without knowing it. Naturally Google would want to stop this --
especially given that Google¹s market share has been declining over recent
months. http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=4


Google is ³only² the world¹s 439th company
(http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/18/06f2k_The-Forbes-2000_Rank_5.html) but
that¹s still a market value of US$107 billion. And spambots are cheap to

Google could even do it themselves and be difficult to trace. Google¹s own
software runs on many people¹s computers, including Google Toolbar and
Google Desktop Search. Both update themselves automatically, so either of
them could download code for a spambot, fire off a few comments and then
erase the evidence without anyone knowing.

But is it really Google?

Have you got a better explanation?


Stilgherrian http://stilgherrian.com/
Internet, IT and Media Consulting, Sydney, Australia
mobile +61 407 623 600
fax +61 2 9516 5630
ABN 25 231 641 421

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