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The Google of 2024 feels hopelessly broken in so many ways

Published Jun 20th, 2024 7:20PM EDT
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Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

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2024 has finally crystallized for me that when it comes to Google, this bloated, broken, visionless internet giant is on a trajectory that’s no longer reversible. From its broken search engine to its constant and ridiculous bugs that exert real-world harm — as well as all its woke employees who think every day is Bring Your Ideology to Work Day — it’s never been more clear to me that Google’s best days are behind it.

And the hits keep coming.

Here’s a maddening report from Search Engine Roundtable, about scammers taking advantage of an exploit in Google Maps, whereby you can move a business’ map pin far away from its actual location — and, obviously, send their ratings into the gutter as a result. Real, actual businesses are being hurt by this. It’s been going on for months.

But, hey, speaking of Google Maps, at least the company thinks deeply about the tough stuff — like its discussions in the past about not offering users a “scenic route” option because Google doesn’t want to steer people away from low-income communities. A Google spokesperson told Tom’s Guide that the ex-Googler who brought that concept to light on X/Twitter no longer works for the company, but if you don’t think that person’s idiocy still very much exists and thrives inside the Googleplex, I’ve got a Large Language Model to sell you.

I actively despise this company, and it’s because of so many things like that — both large and small.

I have to regularly check my Gmail’s spam box almost daily now, because Google can’t even reliably route mail to my inbox anymore. If you do a Google Search (on desktop) for my name, you’ll see my so-called Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side of the screen. Mind you, I had to prove to Google who I was in order to claim the panel. Moreover, the associated Search results for my name show that Google knows who I am. That said, the Knowledge Panel has so consistently included incorrect information about me that I’ve given up policing it.

That LinkedIn account you see near my name? It’s not mine (I don’t have a LinkedIn account).

Cory Doctorow has described the phenomenon I’ve talked about here as the “enshittification” of companies like Google, and I think that’s the perfect word for what’s going on. I hate this company so much that I’ve switched to a different search engine — one that delivers a slightly less optimal experience, but I accept it simply because the company is not Google. I’ve also painstakingly deleted or shifted all of my photos out of Google Photos, for no other reason than I want this company to die.

You might accurately point out that the demise of Google would hurt someone who makes a living by writing on the internet. And yes, that’s true. I think of it, though, sort of like the Palestinian who once told a member of Israel’s Knesset that “victory for us is to see you suffer.” That’s exactly how I feel about Google, even if I have to pay a price myself in exchange.

Somehow, the tech industry writ large has let itself forget that people today mostly just want shit that works correctly and makes their lives better. The only people clamoring for AI are CEOs and Wall Street investors. Everybody else is forced to watch as companies like Google are so scared about being caught flat-footed by AI that they will literally break their products in order to compete in that race. Exhibit A: Just add “Before:2023” to your Google Search string, and watch how much cleaner and more useful your results are.

The one thing about all this that gives me hope is actually a fact of life that’s been true since the ancient world: It’s that empires don’t last forever. The Roman Empire, for example, used to stretch across three continents. At one time, the British empire spanned almost 14 million square miles. Today, Britain is roughly comparable in size to the state of Oregon.

At some point, the same thing will happen to Google. It’s only a matter of time.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.