While I usually appreciate the colloquial tone of Google’s messaging – “This stuff matters” – very much keeping with its everyman, non-corporate vibe, its casualness merely masks the deviousness of the change.
Gizmodo’s Mat Honan described why the new policy smacks in the face of everything Google has stood for in the past, in a column aptly titled “Google’s Broken Promise: The End of ‘Don’t Be Evil’":
Google built its reputation, and its multi-billion dollar business, on the promise of its "don't be evil" philosophy. That's been largely interpreted as meaning that Google will always put its users first, an interpretation that Google has cultivated and encouraged. Google has built a very lucrative company on the reputation of user respect. It has made billions of dollars in that effort to get us all under its feel-good tent. And now it's pulling the stakes out, collapsing it. It gives you a few weeks to pull your data out, using its data-liberation service, but if you want to use Google services, you have to agree to these rules.
This explains why Google is spending a whole lot of money in an attempt to convince its users, the media, and the government that its intentions are noble and good. It purchased display ads on WashingtonPost.com (a popular site for politicos and lobbyists, naturally) and tripled its spend on lobbying in Q4 of 2011 ($3.8 million, twice as much as Microsoft over the same three months).