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Lost in Google translation (from utopia to dystopia) by Lucas Hurni



One morning I woke up with an email from Google, saying that the Google Ads account of the company was suspended. Suspended definitively.


The email proposed to fill a form to make an appeal of this decision.


We didn’t know why our account was suspended, we didn’t know which ad could have triggered the suspension, so we decided to call Google Ads support.


This was efficient, 2 minutes later I was on the phone with someone from Google.

I asked for the reasons for the suspension and I explained that this suspension impacted thousands of our customers.


The person from Google told me that our account was suspended because one of our client’s ads was advertising counterfeit goods. So I asked naively that they tell us which ad was problematic so we could remove it and reopen the account.


But that’s not how a techno-monopolistic conglomerate works…


The Google employee told me that they cannot tell me which ad was problematic, neither explain to me how they decided that the products were counterfeits, and that the suspension of our account was maybe definitive and that we can’t open a new Google Ads account.

So we filled out the appeal form, providing proofs of the authenticity of our clients' goods and explaining that there must have been a mistake.


Since then, we’ve been four times on the phone with Google Ads support, we’ve filled three appeal forms and we’re still waiting.


This has been the first time that I’ve experienced the powerlessness of trying to negotiate with a monopolistic company.


I don’t blame the people in Google's support team, but their only answers are “It’s the algorithm, we can’t do anything about it.”


The problem is, if you’re unhappy with Google’s paid search ads service, you can’t go to the competition. Yes of course you could do paid search ads on Microsoft’s search engine Bing…

In Europe Google search engine is used by more than 90% of internet users, so you’ll lose 90% of your audience.


In 2021 Google’s ad revenue increased by 69%, to reach possibly $200 billion per year.

So Google is continuing to consolidate it’s monopolistic position in the paid search ads.

It’s not just about Google, it’s about how these mega-conglomerate are disrupting all the sectors of our lives, going from selling utopia to a possible dystopian future.


This become a worrying idea, that in the future this kind of experience can happen if:


- Google becomes a major actor in the health industry and sells your fitness tracker data to your health insurance, and you haven’t been to the gym for one month, so you’ve lost your health coverage.


- Your brand new Elon Musk’s Neuralink brain chip has a problem and you have to file a form to explain the problem, meanwhile you’re not able to perform any mental calculation.

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- Your Waymo/Uber account is suspended, because you spilled some coffee on the backseats, and you can’t get to your job anymore.

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- Your Google Drive / Microsoft office 365 is suspended and you can’t access your work files anymore.

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- Your Boston Dynamics(ex-Google) robot maid account was suspended because you mistreated it, and now you have to wash the dishes on your own.

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- You’ve written a product review with some profanities on Amazon, now your account is suspended and you can't watch the end of your TV show on Amazon Prime Video.

Even the US government is now afraid of the power of the big tech companies and wants to regulate or dismantle them.


The big tech companies are taking the threat of antitrust laws seriously, as they train their staff to avoid words like “dominant”, “unique” and “leader”.



What can I do about it?


As a consumer, it’s difficult (not impossible) to make a difference. For example this article was written with an Apple Macbook, using Google Docs and sent with Google Gmail. You will probably read it from a device using Apple, Google or Microsoft operating systems…

As a citizen, you should vote for political parties that are aware of the benefits and the risks of big tech companies. These companies are well aware of the risk of politicians that could fight against their expansion strategies, that is why they spend millions on political lobbying.


Even some of the biggest winners of this big tech industry seem worried. Marc Andeersen, co-founder of Netscape, and early investor in Facebook, Twitter and Skype wrote:


“We went from being pirates to being the navy. People may love pirates when they’re young and small and scrappy, but nobody likes a navy that acts like a pirate. And today’s technology industry can come across a lot like a navy that acts like a pirate.”


There are a lot of reasons to rejoice about all the technology disruptions that are happening. We just need to make sure, as a society, that we don’t let only a few corporations control these technologies.


Our civilization would have looked radically different if a single corporation would have owned the printing press technology.


Photo by PhotoMIX Company

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