We’ve come to expect Google to stretch the truth a bit. But even we were taken aback when we recently discovered the company outright misleading the public on the facts about our latest ad campaign.
It started when Google Policy Manager Betsy Masiello wrote the following on the company’s Public Policy Blog on February 1, in reference to one of our “Good to Know” campaign ads:
“Myth: In 2011, Google made $36 billion selling information about users like you. [Fairsearch – PDF].”
Ironically, the stated intent of Masiello’s post is to “give you the facts.” And yet, her first point is factually inaccurate. Here’s what the ad actually says (check out the PDF, which remains online):
“Google sold over $36 billion of targeted advertising in 2011.”
That’s straight out of Google’s own statement of its 2011 full-year financial results, which shows $36.531 billion in “total advertising revenue.”
But sometime in the past week, Google’s gone a step further in its misinformation campaign. Masiello’s Google Public Policy Blog post has been revised:
That’s just pure fiction. The ads ran as part of a week-long series in several publications, which all thoroughly fact-checked our statements (for the record, we passed). And the campaign is still up on our website. Check all the ads out for yourself.
The facts here are clear — Google lied about what the FairSearch.org ad stated originally, and even more bizarrely then lied about the ad being pulled for being “inaccurate.”
”Trust us” on the setting the record straight? Keep on searching for the truth, Google.
For our part, we’ll stick with the facts.