There aren't many people with Internet access who don't use Google's search engine. If you enter "Google" into Google's search field, approximately two billion items come up within .17 seconds and the first bit says Google "Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images." This is Google's service in a nutshell. Of course, Google has grown beyond a simple search engine and is one of the most powerful corporations of the digital era. With annual revenues reaching over $20 billion, it has expanded into everything from smart phones to mapping software. Basically, if you use any part of the Internet, there is a good chance Google will find a way to be there.
Google is also devoting hundreds of millions of dollars of its investment capital to renewable sources of energy. It's Develop Renewable Sources of Energy Cheaper Than Coal program is defined "developing utility scale renewable energy cheaper than coal." Any corporation that has grown to this level of universal importance also has a responsibility to move in the direction of fostering and creating a more sustainable planet. However, there is another issue in this particular case that isn't really being examined.
Google's main source of revenue comes from search advertising that appears with informational queries. Although there is no indication that the company can "modify" its search to bring up only positive news about its alternative investments in companies such as eSolar and BrightSource where it has an interest, how can we ever be assured that it will not? In other words, in today's highly competitive media environment, will an information services company be willing to publish or feature its own negative news?
Google is an amazing company that has transformed the way we seek information and communicate. However, can a company with this kind of awesome responsibility also be able to resist bottom-line self-interest? There is no sign that this has happened and there is no indication that it will. Yet, it's important to consider that the possibility exists.
Jonathan A. Schein is president/CEO of ScheinMedia and publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com.
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