By Searchers operations director Israr Sarwar
I love the irony of a search engine complaining about theft of data, when said search engine has admitted guilt over the harvesting of data from unprotected wireless computer networks around the world.
My instinct – which is generally good – with the Bing data sting incident is that there is far more here than meets the eye: for a start, Google chose a third party (Search Engine Land) to release the story, which has set off alarm bells for me.
Danny Sullivan’s article, and the subsequent Google blog post, made me sit up. Hang on, what …? Google acknowledges that humans bypass the algorithm’s alleged neutrality and – for want of a less emotive word – manipulate the results?
It’s not the first time this has come up, and with the EU’s antitrust investigation ongoing it is unlikely to go away soon.
But the alarm bells were still ringing.
I’m not sure about the legitimacy of the claims Google makes, though I would not put it past Microsoft to employ such tactics.
But for me, the focus of the article was slightly left of centre: I see the death of one of the founding tenets of Google, which was the playing down of human manipulation (yes, that word again) of the algorithm.
I also see it as a very strategically placed admission of this fact, which I believe they are rolling out in anticipation of an attempt by the EU to force the disclosure of some of their most closely guarded search secrets.
Under oath they would have to admit their results are not always as unbiased as they have previously stated. So, they are softening the ground, under the wheels of a rather graceful Trojan Horse.