Google, HMOs and Sicko

June 30th, 2007

sickoI don’t know about you, but I found this Boing Boing post (Google to HMOs: pay us and we’ll defuse “Sicko”) disturbing.

“Google’s “Health Advertising Team” is trying to sell the health industry on buying ads to be shown opposite searches for “Sicko.” The idea is to counter Michael Moore’s amazing, enraging, must-see indictment of the health industry’s grip on American society by running ads over search results for Sicko.”

Google’s health marketeers wonder in their blog “Does negative press make you Sicko?” and are ready to help, just in case you get a little queasy.

“We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message. We help you connect your company’s assets while helping users find the information they seek.”

It’s good to have an open market, and companies as well as individuals should enjoy the right of free speech. Micheal Moore certainly does, and some think he abuses it. But excessive corporate advertising and propaganda, especially if it misleads, dissembles or lies, can do a lot of harm. It will be a bad thing if Google enables it on the Web. I don’t think we are there yet, but I’m not sure about the direction we are headed in or why we are in this hand basket.