Has Google Become "Teh Evil"?

Google is losing consumer confidence. It recently dropped below the top 20 of companies that consumers feel do the best job at safeguarding personal information.

The Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe recently released its annual report detailing consumer opinion regarding the most trustworthy companies for privacy. The survey “asked 6,486 adult-aged U.S. consumers which companies did the best job safeguarding personal information,” and Google, which had been ranked on the list for the past three years, dropped from the top 20. American Express retained its spot atop the list this year, closely followed by eBay, IBM, and Amazon. And Facebook made its inaugural appearance on the list at number 15.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, whose eponymous research company co-conducted the study, believes that Google's stature slipped this year because it suffers from “big company syndrome,” he says. "People figure that if you're big and collecting data, there must be an issue.” The overall sentiment among those surveyed is that privacy is a bigger concern than ever, with just 45% of respondents believing they have control over their personal information (down from 48% in 2007 and 56% in 2006).

Facebook likely eclipsed Google in public appeal regarding security due to the dozens of personal modifications available for users on their site. Google seeks to make freely available as much information as possible, and the increase in public awareness regarding identity theft may have contributed to its omission from the top 20.

"Naturally, we're disappointed that we're no longer in the top 20 of the list. Nevertheless, our users' privacy concerns continue to be crucial to our operations, and we continue to have a firm commitment to being transparent about our approach to privacy and giving users meaningful control," says a Google spokesperson. Yet it seems like the biggest safeguard for users wary of Google's ability (or lack thereof) to protect their privacy would simply be to carefully monitor the content they put online.

Facebook disagrees. "It shouldn't be binary, where you either reveal a piece of data to everyone on the Internet or Facebook or not at all," says Chris Kelly, Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer. "We think people want to share more information, but they want choices."

What does this really mean for Google? Since Google is becoming the world's largest information aggregator and it isn't publicly acknowledged among the most trustworthy companies, should its users be worried?

[via SFGate]

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8 Comments

  • Christian Galipeau

    My Google Adwords account have been suspended cause I didn't respect their laws... I tried to sell some Kindles and Fuji Finepix 3D cameras witl Amazon affiliate programe and Google suspended my account because of that!

    I don't get it! Maybe I'm evil, but just tell me it's bad and I'm not gonna do it again! Instead, they've sent me emails telling me that the ad was not ok, to modify it and send it back, wich I did. ah HA!!! Finally, I'm too evil for Google! The thing is that I've spend some money there. They were making money with me and I didn't even made a dime!!! Wow, isn't that rediculous!!!!!!

    I'm a french internet marketer and I write my "memoires" on www.faireargent.info. Thanks for reading and Google IS Evil!

  • Jason Lombard

    Geez guys. We're all in business here. Let's save the sales pitch for our blogs and LinkedIn pages. How about some thoughts on the story itself?

    Thank you to Jason Bland and Chris Dannen for keeping it on point.

  • Ilya Bodner

    Google is making a valuable effort to have email sync with everything else. As a small business owner it is exciting to see so many functions in one place. At Initial Underwriting Group we help small businesses obtain financing, and don't have time to search around for functionality.

    Sincerely,

    Ilya Bodner
    Small Business Owner
    Initial Underwriting Group

  • Ilya Bodner

    Google is making a valuable effort to have email sync with everything else. As a small business owner it is exciting to see so many functions in one place. At Initial Underwriting Group we help small businesses obtain financing, and don't have time to search around for functionality.

    Sincerely,

    Ilya Bodner
    Small Business Owner
    Initial Underwriting Group

  • Ilya Bodner

    Google is making a valuable effort to have email sync with everything else. As a small business owner it is exciting to see so many functions in one place. At Initial Underwriting Group we help small businesses obtain financing, and don't have time to search around for functionality.

    Sincerely,

    Ilya Bodner
    Small Business Owner
    Initial Underwriting Group

  • Jason Bland

    Naturally, as a company gets larger it gains a bit of mystique but I don't believe its going to effect their market share or truly influence anybodies decision to use them. Everyone is aware of Wal-Mart's overseas practices (and domestic ethics and wages lawsuits) and they continue to profit, even through a slow down. Being mistrusted because of a "big business" association is just part of life in this country and will continue to be the case until corporate America as a whole earns back consumer confidence.