Google news alerts are emails sent to you by Google through the data analysis of its monopoly search engine. Yes, the all seeing Google knows a lot of stuff and they are happy to share it with you so you can share it with others. Google will send you a link that matches your news alert and will always have social media sharing links to Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. (I can’t imagine Google adding the Facebook and Twitter links without some kind of compensation, probably cold hard cash.)
Here’s an example:
This link goes to a site called myfreemp3.cc which takes you to this page:
In case you were wondering what myfreemp3.cc was all about, how would you know if this was a pirate site? Or more precisely, how would Google know myfreemp3.cc was a pirate site? It just looks sketchy, right? But we all know that we can’t just decide something “looks sketchy” because that might break the Internet. How about some proof? Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to expertise theory in Outliers? (That’s the book that’s not available on Amazon.)
Let’s take a look at the handy Google Transparency Report and see what we can find out.
First thing we notice is that Google has received over 31 million DMCA notices to disable links in the last 30 days–and this is only for search. Not Blogger or YouTube or any other Google property. So that’s what the statisticians call a robust sample.
What about the site myfreemp3.cc? Fortunately the Google Transparency Report has a handy search tool.
And my goodness gracious, there it is! Although common sense might break the Internet, there’s the URL that Google sent directly to my inbox: myfreemp3.cc and also myfreemp3.eu. As the corner boys in the Fred Von Lohman unit at Google will no doubt tell you, there’s no proof (aside from the Internet-breaking common sense) that confirms that myfreemp3.eu and .cc are run by the same people. Even so, Google has been told 1,161,250 times that the actual URL they sent to me does illegal stuff and Google has acknowledged that the DMCA notices it receives are 97% accurate.
What do you think Malcolm Gladwell might have to say about that level of repetition? And remember–this was simply based on a search of “OK Go lyrics”. There’s nothing in that search term that suggests an interest in piracy. Yet Google serves up links to a pirate site that it has been told is a pirate site over 1 million times. And Facebook and Twitter promote this piracy through their indiscriminate links to Google Alert emails.
So let’s just say it: Google promotes piracy through Google Alerts to its profit.