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> Google could offer a search engine free of any ads, as they did in the early days. They have more than enough cash to do it. This would make users very happy. Google could try to support itself by selling something, besides advertising.

This reasoning doesn't make sense to me. Many startups offer their services for free or low cost, burning cash, to acquire users/mind-share until they find a way to be profitable. Google and Facebook found advertising as that way, and thus survived instead of running out of money. And are able to offer their services for free.

"Google should ditch that and start again" doesn't even start to make sense.




I think his claim is more of "The Search Product" can be run as a loss-leading free product just like Youtube was, while they profit elsewhere.

And he covers this with the rhetorical question: They can do these things, but they don't, because being as anti-user as possible (while putting out the occasional fluff PR piece) earns them billions and billions and billions of dollars.

He's basically saying "Google could remove advertising and figure out how to make money without being one of the most user-hostile organizations in software history, but they don't because their hostility to privacy and their revolution in combining aggressively curated private data with advertising has made them one of the richest corporations in history"


> while they profit elsewhere.

what is this elsewhere of which you speak? Google apps for your domain? Youtube red? Android licensing fees?

The truth can be seen from the way users behave. Nobody wants to pay any money for online services, and if google were to stop advertising, they'd basically be bankrupt as the userbase is not willing to pay the equivalent amount to google that they derive from selling user data.


To be clear, Google doesn't sell user data to anyone. In fact, it's got the strongest of incentives to keep other companies or hackers away from the data of their users. Which is maybe why Google's security team is what it is.


Technically, most companies in the advertising space don't sell user data. They sell the ability to target users based on anonymized and pre-digested data. Google Search Ads and AdWords both work that way, as does pretty much all of Facebook's ads products.

As an example, Facebook might sell you the ability to target people between ages 12 and 20 located in major metropolitan centers in the US. You never bought any user data that let you flag individual users, but you are still "using" the data.

(Disclaimer and also claim to authority: I worked in ad tech.)


The end result is the same if Google sold your data to an advertiser or used the data to advertise on the same advertiser's behalf. So I find "Google sells your data to 3rd parties" to be an accurate enough description.


If you think the end result is the same, you are being very charitative in your guess of what those companies could do with your data. Without giving it much thought, for a start you would lose the ability to control what that data is and who has it.


> would lose the ability to control what that data is and who has it.

It's the same with Google, you cannot control your data and what they do with it.


Have you visited the privacy checkup page lately? https://myaccount.google.com/privacycheckup

I'm not sure why people keep saying that Google and Facebook is selling user data. Does that mean that if those companies started to actually do it, it wouldn't bother the claimants as they consider it being done already? Seems to me like an important distinction to make.

In comparison, are Uber selling software? Rather than using software to sell a service?


> what that data is

Can I find out what data Google has on me?


I know that you can restrict it from https://myaccount.google.com.


I don't see a button that would prevent doubleclick/ganalytics from tracking me all over the place.


The relationship between that and "it's the same as if Google sold my data to third parties" is lost on me, honestly. Looks like you're trying to prove a sentiment instead of a point.


Obviously there is a technical difference between "Google sold my data" and what they actually do. My point is that the outcome is the same in both cases. It doen't matter to me which specific entity erodes my privacy. So in the larger scheme of things, Google did sell my data to advertisers.

Amazon doesn't directly sell you the AWS infrastructure. But they rent it to you. Google is doing something akin to that. If they had an opt out saying "Don't use my private data to show me ads" I'd no longer make the point they sell my data. But they don't provide any opt-out, and the effect is identical to my data being sold to advertisers.


When I pay Amazon to use AWS I get access to those machines. When I pay Google to display ads, I don't get access to the data of any user.

If a company sold your information, you can say bye bye to being able to restrict what that information is and who has it; you might as well consider it public from that point on. I don't think anybody in their right mind would call that difference a technicality.

Google does provide the opt out you say they don't, too: Browsing in incognito mode.


> not willing to pay the equivalent amount to google that they derive from selling user data

I think that's the GP's point -- but Google has enough cash in the bank that they could probably continue to provide services indefinitely if they took the decision to divest themselves of advertising and re-organise themselves appropriately.


> Nobody wants to pay any money for online services

I wish this meme would die already. Youtube red cannot be purchased in half the world. Google the search engine does not even have pay-for-no-ads offering that I know of.

You can't say they actually tried to get money from users yet.




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