Google, Google Plus, Dog Food & Politics

A reader pointed out to me that Google themselves do not seem to think that local Google + Pages for Business are all that important as they have not upgraded their page to social. They in fact have not even claimed the page as of yet. Certainly no consumption of their own dog food there.

He also points out that equally interesting is that the “profile photo” was a community contributed photo…a political protest photo at that, posted by Brad Johnson. Brad is a political activist who has been critical of Google’s climate change efforts in general and specifically critical of Google corporate moves that support climate change deniers.

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The use of Google Maps as a platform for political commentary is not new with reports from as far back as 2008. I have myself occasionally used these tools to make a point.

Google has long relied on the power of the group as a low cost way to get things right in the world of Mapping. While there was a certain democratic populism that informed many of Google’s early decisions to open up their tools and business listings for users to edit there was also a clear economic rationale. It is interesting to observe the tension that exists between policy that allows for community edits and the needs of Google as a corporation where they have to explain to corporate advertisers why their + Page is littered with reviews from protesters.

Despite the fact that I often sympathize with the messages of these protesters, I have never felt that small businesses were served by Google’s loose policies in these areas. In this case, the user simply uploaded a photo, in the absence of corporate ones, that the algo seems to think is good. No little irony in that.

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Google, Google Plus, Dog Food & Politics by

8 thoughts on “Google, Google Plus, Dog Food & Politics”

  1. Multiple layers of irony and pure craziness in that picture….and that google has not upgraded its own page on that location.

    (Must look at other locations) :D

    Mike: The decisions, actions, and results don’t just come from a cost perspective. Its a corporate wide decision to close the doors on outside commentary and interaction. Google comments on things it wants to comment upon and doesn’t utter a peep on those on which it doesn’t want to get into discussions.

    But I suppose that is another story.

    At the least, in an environment where there are ever more attacks on google for its multiple actions that have skewered webmasters and impacted the web, and in an environment in which it is encouraging local businesses to claim the page, make it social, use google products and services, etc etc…….

    one would think it would make its own page and locations more active and social. guess they missed that one.

    Quite a funny circumstance.

  2. Mike:

    Its been interesting to me that Google has essentially not policed reviews that were overtly political even as its policies state that reviews should not have that element as seen here:

    Off-topic reviews: Reviews should describe your personal, first-hand experience with a specific place. Don’t post reviews based on someone else’s experience, or that are not about the specific place you are reviewing. Reviews are not a forum for personal rants or crusades, nor are they meant to be a forum for general political or social commentary. If you want to report incorrect information about a place, use the Report a problem link for that place instead of using a review.

    That policy has been up for a longish period of time.

    Its interesting that to my knowledge, experience, and various searches…I haven’t seen lots of examples of political reviews and efforts to describe or attack entities as you suggested back in this post from 2008: http://blumenthals.com/blog/2008/11/10/google-maps-will-edit-wars-go-postal/

    Maybe there have been many more than those that I’ve seen…but generally I haven’t seen a lot of examples.

    Like you, I occasionally used google reviews to make a political statement. Interestingly, my sense was the couple of comments I made were not seen much. (There were hardly any “helpful”/ “not helpful”/ inappropriate references to the couple of times I did this.

    It was also interesting to see that they stayed up for a long long time, despite the fact they clearly violated the above policy.

    Anyway I always found this situation interesting: Max’s Deli in Birmingham, Alabama was the recipient of political attack reviews with low ratings and then political support reviews with high ratings.

    If you search for delis Birmingham Alabama one will get a carousel on top with a lot of the delis and similar food establishments in Birmingham.

    Max’s is first in the Carousel. Scan the carousel. You’ll find that Max’s has dramatically more reviews than any other such establishment in that group.

    Then cross check the number of reviews for delis in Birmingham in Yelp. In yelp I found that the 10 deli’s with the most reviews ranged from a high of 49 to a low of 10 among the delis with most reviews.

    The 292 reviews for Max’s in Google is an outlier. What occurred.

    You could look up an article that hit the Huffington Post about Max’s deli…and the review wars. Another interesting way to ascertain what occurred is to go the Google reviews for Max’s and rate them by lowest score. As soon as you do that you’ll see low reviews with references to “illegal aliens”.

    Max’s got caught up in a “political” war and it was played out in Google reviews.

    Google never removed the political reviews in this case. They are still there.

    In any case I have neither seen Google “police” this policy about politicizing reviews nor for the most part have I found it to have been widely used or abused (maybe I’m missing many cases) as you suggested back in 2008 might occur.

    Of course it could explode into something ugly at some point. Possibly if that were to occur Google would clamp down on this policy.

    It seems to me one can make their political comments in Google reviews these days and for the last several years….and the reviews will mostly or often be shown and not removed.

  3. @Dave

    I am not sure that Google is even eligible to claim their listing due to their business model. Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a Google Places listing.

    I still see political reviews. Here is a current example. They get reported but not taken down.

  4. ” Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a Google Places listing.”

    LOL. Google shuns interaction. They only interact on issues that we choose. For the rest of you….GO TO H…. DO NOT PASS GO…Do not collect $100

    Good catch. They don’t merit a listing. They are violating their own policies.

  5. Google does see people in this

    Pretty poor reviews. Yikes. More irony…such lousy reviews…such dominance of search traffic.

  6. Kind of sort of on the subject, I have a customer who was told by a vendor that they had a coupon for Google adwords that he could use if he matched their contribution. He agreed, but then couldn’t get into his Google+ Local page any longer to make changes. He claims that he called Google and was told that their hands are tied because the page had a real administrator (the vendor). Is his only recourse to add a page and report the original as a duplicate since they won’t give him the login–they say that they own the listing now. Does that sound right to you?

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