Friday, October 8


Google is doing what they said they wouldn't do. They now take payola to put links at the top of the search results. Other search engines have been doing this for a while, but Google said they wouldn't. The only ads they'd put up would be clearly marked as ads, and so they have until now: the sponsored links appear on in a sidebar.

But today I was searching for VOIP&voice over internet protocol, a way to call using broadband internet lines—and a couple of links kept coming out on top, even when I told it to search within a certain web domain. Like I did " VOIP" and some voip providers' websites came out above Wired's websites. Then I noticed far over on the right side that it said "sponsored links," and that these links were ever-so-slightly indented from the left margin.

This might not seem like a big deal, but when I toured Google headquarters last spring, employees there made a big deal about how their attitude toward sponsored links made them different from other search engines. They portrayed themselves as more honest. I think this image has some truth, and it helped quell the concerns over their gmail service, which scans your incoming emails and then serves up ads alongside, the same as the search engine. But Google said they'd only use the information for serving up ads and nothing else. And I couldn't find anything on their website admitting they'd made a change to their policy on sponsored links.

But the post-IPO Google seems to be changing their ways. Can they still be trusted?


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