Okay, somebody claimed that Google is in bed with the CIA. I thought about debunking this one via haiku, but the 5-7-5 verse syllable structure was really constraining. Even tanka, which goes with 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7 syllables on each line was too limiting. Dax says that I should debunk using rap, but I lack the hipness, Dax-dawg. So I’m going with a fictional dialogue.
The short answer is that this story is completely untrue. I would have pegged this story as one that would rattle around conspiracy sites and various blogs, but wouldn’t get traction with well-known blogs. But John Battelle surprised me by mentioning it on October 29th, and I believe that he asked Google’s PR (that’s public relations, not PageRank) team to comment on whether Google was in bed with the CIA. On November 2nd, Battelle got an official Google statement on the CIA allegations: “The statements related to Google are completely untrue.”
Here’s where the fictional dialogue comes in to play. In order to make a statement like that, you just know some poor PR person had to walk around the company making absolutely, 100% sure, that Google is not in bed with the CIA. Eventually the PR person would probably end up talking to a random co-founder, just to be completely positive. Here’s how I imagine the dialogue going. Note: I am totally making this dialogue up.
Random Google PR person: Hey, co-founder, can I grab a minute of your time?
Random Google Co-founder: I’m on my way to a meeting, you can walk with me if you want.
PR person: So a site on the web claims that Google is in bed with the CIA.
Co-founder: Huh? What are you talking about?
PR person: There’s this site claiming that Google is, like, in bed with the CIA. So, are we?
Co-founder: Dude, why are you bothering me with crap like this? Of course we’re not! I think somebody’s pulling your leg.
PR person: No, really, it was a serious inquiry. As long as we’re talking about this, can I check on just a couple other things?
PR person: Are we a, let me find it, “proxy NSA outfit”?
Co-founder: What the hell are you talking about?
PR person: Someone said that “Google’s ceaseless drive to dominate Microsoft and reap untold profits has come at the expense of privacy as the company jettison’s [sic] its “don’t be evil” mandate and merges itself into a proxy NSA outfit, creating all the tools necessary for the state to suffocate its subjects under an inescapable high-tech panopticon control grid.”
Co-founder: PR person, have you been smoking crack? I seriously think someone is having fun with you. When the government sent subpoenas to 34 different companies requesting user queries and behavior, Google was the only company that said no. That was earlier this year; don’t you remember that?
PR person: So that’s a no?
Co-founder: That’s a definite no. I’ll never understand why people fixate so much on search engines. We don’t even know who people are. ISPs know everywhere people go on the web, including search engines, and they actually know things like the user’s name, address, and probably a credit card number. But even though ISPs have a strict superset of the data that search engines have for any given query, people pay more attention to search engines instead. It’s weird.
PR person: Yup. Anyway, just a few more. Did Google intentionally “disappear” bilderberg.org?
Co-founder: That name sounds familiar. Is that the guy where we weren’t able to reach his site to crawl it back in 2002, and he seemed to think that Google intentionally delisted him?
PR person: That’s the guy. He said: “This makes me very nervous for public confidence in your service since I know there is pressure on a lot of people (including govt employees here in the UK) not to allow the public to access information about the occult – which I have begun to mention on my front page in connection to the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963.”
Co-founder: Didn’t someone from the PR team personally reply back in 2002 and say that Google’s crawler couldn’t reach his site?
PR person: That’s right.
Co-founder: If we replied personally and explained it back in 2002, why would he believe us any more now?
PR person: I see your point. Hey, speaking of the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963, did Google have anything to do with that?
Co-founder: (The random co-founder stops in his tracks and stares at the PR person). What the hell? Google was founded in 1998! How could we have anything to do with the Kennedy assassination?
PR person: 1963 to 1998 is 35 years. 35 is a round number. Some people have been asking.
Co-founder: You have totally lost it! What’s next? Sasquatch monitors our crawl? The Loch Ness Monster works on search quality?
PR person: I didn’t hear a firm denial on the Kennedy thing. Are you just trying to muddy the water with sarcasm?
Co-founder: (Sigh.) Google had nothing to do with Kennedy’s death.
PR person: Thank you. Just a yes/no, that’s all I need.
Co-founder: Whatever. You’re weirding me out, man.
PR person: We’re almost done. A couple month ago, an Oxford critic said that he wasn’t showing up, and he was worried that Google might be suppressing him. He said, and I quote, “What price the Goflood-Oxreg agreement?”
Co-founder: What’s a Goflood-Oxreg agreement?
PR person: I have no idea. It sounds either good or bad, but I can’t decide which.
Co-founder: Huh. Wait a minute. Didn’t someone look into this, and it was just a difference in data centers? The site wasn’t showing up because one data center had the newest version of a binary and another data center didn’t?
PR person: Oh, that’s right, so there’s a place to point to for that fellow. Nevermind. Now, about the black helicopters.
Co-founder: What black helicopters?
PR person: You know, the ones that the government uses to ferry the Illuminati to meetings with the Knights Templar after the Trilateral Commission tells the Federal Reserve how to set the interest rates? We got a question about whether we plan to sell HelicopterWords. You know, ads on the black helicopters.
Co-founder: Okay, I’ve had enough of this. Get back to work.
PR person: (grins) So that’s a no on HelicopterWords. Check. Okay, that’s all I needed–thanks!
I want to re-iterate that this is just my personal imagination, even though I feel for the PR person who had to field that CIA inquiry.
By the way, I did embed a secret message in this post. The alternating red/green lines of color are my way to say happy holidays to everyone.