When good companies go bad: how Google learned to stop worrying and love spam

Okay. So, Google’s founders have an unofficial slogan, which is a part of Google’s genetic DNA: Don’t be evil. Nice idea, that; do well and do good.

But in my experience, “don’t be evil” has become more of…well, a suggestion than a statement of corporate policy. No, I’m not talking about the way Google records information about searches or how the Goolge toolbar inserts paid links into other people’s Web sites–frankly, I don’t care about any of that.

I’m talking about something different: spam. And the fact that Google likes it.

Oh, now I’m not suggesting Google engages in spam itself; when you’re Google, you don’t need to spam. Everyone uses you anyway. I’m talking about the fact that Google supports spammers. And it’s not even a question of supporting spammers for profit, like Savvis does, or allowing people to host spam software, like MCI Worldcom does, or allowing people to host virus and malware droppers, like Peer 1 does. What those companies do is reprehensible, of course, but it’s also understandable: they profit directly from it. The spammers give them cash, they look the other way (or in Savvis’ case, actually help shield the spammers).

No, Google supports spammers, but doesn’t even do it for profit. Google supports spammers because it simply can’t be bothered to hire anyone to do anything about it.

The entire net abuse community shuddered when Google took over Deja News and started Google Groups. Google, of course, insisted that Google Groups would serve a valuable function, and would not be used by spammers; they set up an abuse address, they promised that spammers would not be tolerated, and so on, and so on.

Now, a few years later, it seems that Google’s motto has changed from “Don’t be evil’ to “Don’t bother.”

Google Groups has become, as many people predicted, a wretched hive of scum and spammers. I’ve personally seen more spam coming from Google Groups in the past few months than from any other single newsgroup source in the world–Google has dethroned the previous reigning champions of UseNet spam (Skynet.be, newsfeeds.com, and usenetnews.com) in the sheer volume of spew and in their stubborn refusal to stem the tide. In just the past few hours, I’ve collected some nuggets of Google’s outstanding offerings to the Internet community here