A web developer's opinion
Companies spend a lot of money advertising on Google. Thousands of pounds every day, and that's lots of companies, in lots of cities, in lots of countries. Lots of the money they used to give to the newspapers.
Some estimates put their earnings at $161,000,000 or £94,000,000 per day!
The newspapers are a shadow of their former selves and they used to wield a lot of power, their owners known as barons. Now the money has moved into the hands of Google, has the power too?
I think it has, not necessarily the same sort of power, but very similar, the power bought by money and influence and by being the worlds largest arbiters of information.
And this isn't just in one country, it's all over the world, it's virtually all newspapers in all countries have had their incomes decimated.
Lots of smaller companies rely on their income from the position of their website in the organic search results. One tweak in the algorithm could send their website plummeting in the rankings and spell disaster for the company and the livelihoods of their employees. And tweaks in the algorithms happen every day.
So no wonder that webmasters everywhere hang on to every word Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Webspam team, utters. Their algorithm passes judgement on the quality of all websites and thus decides the fate of many businesses. And they have a virtual monopoly on search.
I have been a fan of Google for many years but the amount of power they have worries me. I've always thought there was a lot of truth in the phrase power corrupts.
Until recently I've never been too worried about Google, they seem to do the right thing, their motto being don't be evil, and they give so many great tools away for free.
But then came their attitude to paying tax in countries where they make millions and millions of dollars. That is, they found all the loopholes they could to pay as little as possible. That just seemed wrong to me.
That's not even mentioning the amount of information they know about us and our online habits. I'm not saying they have misused it, just that the potential is there. On the other hand they might argue that they are doing their best to protect us from outside forces that would very much like to exploit that information, like government agencies.
I'm still a fan, but I shall be watching them with a little more concern than I used to.