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Google links spark blogger storm

Discussion in 'Search Engine Optimization' started by ovi, Feb 21, 2005.

  1. ovi

    ovi Guest

    Google has created a storm of protest by launching a controversial service that modifies web pages and directs users to sites chosen by the search engine.
    AutoLink, which is included on Google’s popular desktop Toolbar, automatically inserts links in web pages. For instance, an address could be linked to a map supplied by Google or a book’s ISBN number to the page on Amazon.com, where the product is available to buy.
    The Google service has raised the ire of several bloggers who have argued that it sets a worrying precedent, with publishers losing control of their work and users losing control of their desktops.

    The Exchange Security website said: "Google's widely publicised mantra of 'don't be evil' is increasingly often being used to excuse behavior for which Microsoft, Oracle, or IBM would be roundly condemned."

    Others have countered that users are free to opt in and out of products such as AutoLink and that critics risk stunting exciting new ideas.

    "You can't argue that they are changing the website in any way and therefore messing with the author's right to link or not to link," Michael Gartenberg, the Jupiter analyst, said of Google in his blog.

    A Google spokesman told Times Online: "AutoLink adds useful links to a page but does not replace any existing links. This version of the Google Toolbar is in beta, and we're looking for feedback from users to determine if these features are useful."

    Google’s AutoLink recalls an earlier Microsoft invention called Smart Tags which the software company had planned to build into Internet Explorer, its market-leading internet browser.

    Microsoft retreated from the idea despite winning a key patent case after opponents of the technology pointed out that Smart Tags gave the company the ability to determine which content providers  including itself via MSN  were used to satisfy queries. The New York Times was among those who spoke out against the product in an editorial.

    Bloggers have been quick to draw comparisons between Google and Microsoft, which are fierce rivals. Microsoft recently launched its own search engine, going head-to-head with Google in the lucrative paid-search advertising market

    "Google is to the Web what Microsoft is to PCs - the operating system everyone uses to search ... And millions use the Google Toolbar. They shouldn't get away with what Microsoft was unable to," the blogger Steve Rubel wrote on his Micropersuasion blog.

    Other commentators have asked whether Google risks infringing copyrights by modifying pages without their author's consent.

    It has also been reported that Barnes & Noble, the American bookseller, has been in talks with Google. It is likely that executives discussed AutoLink, which only sends users to Amazon.com.

    Commentators have also queried whether it is healthy for companies that enjoy dominant market positions to alter pages without their author’s consent before they have been seen by readers.

    Source: business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,9075-1494562,00.html
  2. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    I would imagine that technology might be illegal in the UK anyhow under its passing off laws. In this instance, Google would in fact be passing off their paid (or non paid) links as being provided by the owner of the website. There could also be a case for defamation and damages if the links being shown are detrimental to the owners of the website.

    Imagine viewing a barnes and noble book review, only to be shown a link to amazon where you can get the product cheaper! Google is by doing that defacing the content of the webpages. Which opens the next can of worms, copyright law. Google technically breaches copyright law when it displays a snippet. Now most disclaimers say that the information can not be reproduced or altered etc. Google will be altering the information it serves to its viewers.

    Can of worms, big time.
  3. monkey

    monkey Guest

    if the control ultimately laid in the hands of the webmaster i wouldnt mind a tool like this existing. i want to control where all my traffic goes. if there was a some sort of tag i could put in my html that let google no that autolinks aren't allowed on my site I could like with autolink. it could see how the feature would be useful at times. or perhaps if google gave the user a pop up window whenever it altered the content of a page letting the user know that Google altered some content, and not all links are representive of the originaly page content. then maybe ask the user how he/she would like to view the page (i.e. original content or google altered).

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