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By providing everyone with free search to locate information, providing them with free high quality email, adwords to market their wares/services, adsense to monetize their traffic.

Fair enough, but by that logic you can say any business that provides services that the poor can afford is 'helping the poor'. Bing helps the poor the same way google does, Apple helps the poor by selling music by the track, etc. Zynga helps the poor by providing cheap entertainment, etc.

I thought there was the implication that google did something specific.

It's not just that they provide free services, it's that those services are beneficial to society. Obviously this is very subjective and complex. Wikipedia would generally be regarded as good for society - removing the barrier to obtaining knowledge. However, if Wikipedia details how to make a bomb, that's regarded as bad for society.

Google helps society. They provide good search. What separates then from Bing is that they operate with the idea of "do no evil". Bing are seen as copying (an idea - stealing) which is bad in society.

Zynga provides cheap entertainment, but that's not good for society. TV isn't seen as good for society anymore - it's passive. There's an opportunity cost to being entertained - you could be productive - learning on Wikipedia.

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