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Is Google making us stupid?

June 18, 2008

If you were hiring, would you reject someone’s job application because you found some negative comments about him online? Even if the comments are personal in nature, like oh that two-timing sob he’s such a scumbag kind of comment? If it was a VP or CEO position you were hiring, would you think differently?

Someone had that in mind when he asked me if it was a good idea to introduce a “Google filter policy” in his company – a rule that says to only hire someone if a Google search turns up nothing negative about him. We don’t care if the actual information is true or not he said. We just don’t want to look bad when we get Googled, and later said to have hired a guy with a history.

I gave him the most incredulous look. Sure you can, I said. Just be prepared to find your office empty one day. Ever heard the saying, he that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone?

It will get bizzarre. Say you have a blogger friend. She’s opinionated, controversial. A Google search reveals you are her confidant, that you support her views. Congratulations, you’re now a risk according to the Google filter policy.

Far fetched? Hardly. Just look at the US presidential elections. They’re dredging up anything that can be turned into an attack point, even if it happened in kindergarten. The election is about to get screwed by silly trivia and people are completely losing perspective.

Instead of encouraging us to think, this sudden burst of information is making us more stupid. Wisdom is becoming redundant.

Will the internet, once the greatest liberator, become the greatest jailor?

I’ll tell you, I don’t like the answers I’m seeing.


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