In mid February, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt expressed pride in Google employee Wael Ghonim’s brave struggle against the autocratic Mubarak regime to establish political transparency in Egypt. “We are very, very proud of what Wael and that group was able to do in Egypt,” Schmidt said in Barcelona. But what Schmidt needs to do now is apply Ghonim’s views about political transparency to Google’s own search business.
With its 70% control of the global online search market, Google’s power to make and break online businesses is unrivalled. So it’s not surprising that website owners want more transparency over the reasons why the often autocratic Google sometimes impose penalties on their businesses. But a report issued last week by the newsnavigator OneNewsPage found a distinct lack of transparency in the search business with 88% of respondents saying that paid search advertising costs lacked transparency, while 24% said that they had experienced large, unexplained falls in site traffic as a consequence of changes in their search engine status.