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Google’s Road to Internet Dominance Utilized Questionable Tactics

By Charles Miller

No fewer than five Atención readers sent me a reference to the same Washington Post article by Geoffrey A. Fowler entitled “Goodbye, Chrome: Google’s Web Browser Has Become Spy Software.”

With a healthy dose of sarcasm I answered back, “What? You mean the biggest advertising company on the planet put malware into its web browser to spy on you and track everything you do online? Surely Google wouldn’t do that!”

The aforementioned article is available online at washingtonpost.com and well worth reading. A majority of all Internet users worldwide use Google Chrome as their default web browser, and that probably includes you, so it should be of interest.

Google Chrome is the dominant web browser today, and the history of how it got to be so is something of a dirty little secret. How did it happen? A clue can be found in the experience I had years ago shortly after Chrome was released. An elderly lady phoned me actually in tears.

“My computer is ruined, and I can’t use it anymore,” she cried.

Between sobs, she related that her computer had demanded she abandon the Yahoo email address she had used for years and use Gmail instead. And now she had lost all the phone numbers and addresses in her contacts, could no longer use email, and could not get to her favorite news sites, among other things. She tearfully said she could not afford to buy a new computer.

Fortunately her description of the problem was enough for me to recognize she had been the latest victim of Google’s deceitful campaign to sneak Chrome onto the computers of as many unsuspecting users as it could fool. Google paid other companies such as Adobe to package Chrome along with other software so that when users updated the other software Chrome could then invade the computer, taking over as the default browser and start pushing suggestions to change to Gmail. This was a major annoyance to tech savvy users who knew to ignore the “suggestions,” but a bewildering obstacle to nice little ol’ ladies who thought their computer needed to be replaced.

Over the phone, I was able to tell the lady how to click on the Internet Explorer icon and set it back as the default browser. After that, her familiar Yahoo home page was back and she was immensely grateful to be able to click on “Mail” and get back to the Yahoo.com email address she had used for years. To this day, it still upsets me to think of how many nontechnical users have been victims of Google’s disreputable marketing tactics, but I doubt Google cares, because its Chrome is now number one.

In 2015, Google dropped its company motto of “Don’t Be Evil” in favor of “Do the Right Thing.” Clearly the company was not following the old motto anyhow, but in some areas it is following the new motto. Next week, I will have something positive to say about that.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or by email at FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com

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