Big bird's birthday: Part of Google's charm campaign?
For big bird's birthday, Google has morphed added the Sesame Street icon's feet into the 'l' in its search logo. But is Big Bird an unwitting part of Google's charm offensive?
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So why did the president of Consumer Watchdog call it "the Trojan Muppet?"
Artful logo play is nothing new for Google, who has paid homage to bar codes and H.G. Wells in the past, little flourishes that build an image of a company with a playful and congenial posture. It's an image Google has spent quite some effort burnishing of late, sending a team far and wide (including to the Monitor) to talk about Google's role in Internet search, Web advertising, book digitizing, and antitrust, among other issues.
But the Trojan Muppet idea has its roots in mounting criticism of the Mountain View, Calif., megafirm. Critics say its corporate motto of "Don't be evil" is a smoke screen for invasive procedures that are stripping away privacy (like scanning your gmail account for keywords to create targeted advertising).
"I love Google. But I also fear Google," says Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. "It's made finding information remarkably easy, but I’m not under any illusion that that’s a free lunch. And most Internet users have had their eyes opened recently to the fact that they are being tracked and they don’t have a way of stopping that."
Don't believe Mr. Court? Start typing "Google is" into the main search bar and the search offers "going to take over the world" and "SkyNet" as completing phrases.
Google's own keywords service suggests that those terms are actually searched about 28 and 390 times per month, respectively. (Somehow, you'd expect it to be more.)
Of course, there are millions of Internet users worldwide that Google doesn't need to charm.
Start typing "I love" into the search box. See what comes up first.
(Is that a subtle Google message?)