Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Eric Schmidt: The Internet is a "cesspool"

Image representing Eric Schmidt as depicted in...Image by Eric Schmidt / Google
via CrunchBase
According to this article from Advertising Age, at a meeting with magazine executives yesterday at the Googleplex, "The internet is fast becoming a "cesspool" where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday." Schmidt's solution is to bring more magazines and other old media sources onto the Internet, where their trusted editors can make the decisions on what is right and wrong, and on what information Internet users are entitled to get.

Schmidt's words might have gone down well with the magazine publishers in the audience, but it runs counter to the Internet serving as a forum for the expression of information and ideas, and it trivializes the ability of Internet users to tell fact from fiction. (And, as anyone who followed the false Steve Jobs heart attack story last week knows, it was CNN that gave the story legs and helped it to do so much damage.)

It is, in fact, this "cesspool" that makes so much money for Google. It's the blogs, websites and email that Google places its AdSense text, banner and video ads on. It's the millions of videos uploaded to YouTube that Google sells advertising against. So what, exactly, is Eric Schmidt saying?

If he wants to put his money where his mouth is, here's what he should do:
  • Drop all AdSense ads from Blogger (the posts there might be incorrect.)
  • Screen all websites getting AdSense or DoubleClick ads on a regular basis for accuracy, and drop those whose content is deemed to be insufficient of Mr. Schmidt's standards.
  • Screen all YouTube postings for accuracy, good taste, and whatever Mr. Schmidt seems to feel is wrong, and delete those found wanting. Better yet, why not save money and shut down Blogger and YouTube altogether?
  • Stop putting ads in Gmail (the contents of the mail might be inaccurate or offensive.)
Schmidt can't do these things because his advertising revenue would drop by half overnight. Google makes most of its money by selling search ads against, hosting and delivering the contents of that cesspool.

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