It must have been embarrassing for Google to be accused of delivering live wiretaps to NSA. No matter if they did it or not, the story has been interesting to follow from a pure PR perspective. What would they do? They wrote this blog post where they denied any such involvement.
It’s quite convincing, but was it convincing enough for people and media to forget about the NSA story?
The company has now announced that they will invest $5 million (!) “to eradicate child abuse imagery online”.
Sounds good, no? Child abuse imagery must be just as “disgusting” as Google calls it. But of course, as we know from plenty of examples in the past, “child abuse imagery” can mean virtually anything, from Japanese comics to teenagers photographing themselves in the nude. (Though Google is smart enough not to use the term “child porn”, which the reporting media do – I guess that means we’ll still be able to see GQ’s infamous Glee cover starring some 20-something models engaging in child porn according to some “concerned parents”, at Google would have put it.)
Response has been tremendous. A reader called Dieter gives Google “+1.000.000”. No doubt he’s a good and moral person who protests publicly against child porn with one million plusses! But a bit further down, Sandy comments: “Go Google! +5,000,000,000,000 ……” I guess that means she hates child sexual abuse much more. Too bad, Dieter! You should have added some zeros!
So, can we all leave the Google + NSA story now? After all, this was a masterpiece of damage control – and an expensive one at that. But probably worth it. Watch and learn, PR people!