Google Has the Tools to Shape Reality: Are Local Businesses a Public Demonstration of Functionality

November 9, 2021

I read about Google’s “effort to regain control of the antitrust narrative” in an essay published by Near Media. You can find that write up here. The idea is that Alphabet Google YouTube can employ “search features to sway small business sentiment.” The Cambridge Analytica example makes clear that even if framing, augmenting, and information shaping are not efficient, the methods work.

Now Google may be sufficiently concerned to employ the methods in a way that allows Near Media and even SEO wizards to sit up and take notice. An online newsletter founded by the luminary who later joined Google to explain “search” observed:

This is not the first time. When in legislative trouble before, Google has previously tried to appeal to users to make its case when laws change. In 2013, they made the case for cookies by telling searchers in the SERP, “Cookies help us deliver our services.” This was a prompt in response to European privacy laws.

SERP is one of the buzzwords much loved by search engine optimization specialists. SERP is “search engine result pages.” If an entity is not in Google or on the first page of a query result list, that entity effectively does not exist. Conversely, if information appears in such a position, that information has higher value and should be considered pretty darned reliable.

Shaping results is one of the easiest ways to provide information that frames and then paints the picture the controlling entity wishes to present. Some call this propaganda; others use terminology ripped from Orwell’s 1984.

Search Engine Land “cares.” Here’s the explanation of their emotional involvement:

While marketers are often more skeptical of the search giant’s methods and motives, it may be worth being proactive to your local SEO clients to let them know what this prompt means.

My interpretation is that the baloney shoveled by SEO experts is useless. Google has decided to exert its control in order to avoid regulation and oversight.

Will it work? Sure, it works. Just keep your eye on the lobbying efforts of the world’s largest outfit which once was associated with a truly crazy catchphrase, “Do no evil.”

If Google is sufficiently concerned, it may put pro Google, anti monopoly messages above the ads and before promotions of Google services. That would be something, wouldn’t it?

Stephen E Arnold, November 9, 2021


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