Every once in awhile I come across a story in the tech world that I find truly horrifying, often times related to those moments we get a glimpse underneath the sparkling veneer of technology to its demonstrable dark side, the place where technology destroys human lives so others can enjoy dazzling retina displays or what have you.
For Google, a company that prides itself on its anti-evil stance, several controversial decisions have come to light of late that have tested its own self-stated “Don’t Be Evil’ philosophy—whether it be the intentional flouting of privacy regulations or the irresponsible testing of experimental vehicles on public roadways—but generally things that would be classified as negligent, not evil…that is until now.
While the majority of us are content not to think about it past the 6 o’clock news, there exists a very real, very dark corner of technology. In this moral void exist all the kinds of illegal activities that make the majority of us wonder what our world has become, and because it exists there also exists a segment of both the law enforcement and technology worlds that are tasked to monitor it. Its here this dark tale begins…
It’s a job I certainly don’t envy, those tasked with reviewing and tracking the most repulsive Web content available. From child pornography to bestiality to sites featuring ritual murder, there are some dark and depraved things available on the Internet, and there are representatives of both the public and private sectors who delve into this realm known for bending the mind towards true evil.
Of course the interest of law enforcement for delving into the darkest reaches of the Internet is to preserve the public good, attempting to rescue the victims of these sorts of crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. For a private company like Google, responsible for billions of Internet searches daily, its vested interest is quite different, as it needs to be aware of the content accessed through its vast suite of tools so it can better protect itself from liability issues and its users from accessing undesired content.
To better serve itself and its users Google, much like law enforcement, tasks some of its workers to review this content, but while those in the law enforcement community are limited to six months of this unfortunate sort of duty followed by months of intensive therapy—due to the fact that simply viewing these sorts of things can actually twist the human mind towards liking what it sees–Google’s policy for those viewing the same material is quite different; destructive really.
According to a story released this past week, Google contracts this sort of work out to temps, hiring them for a year to review the worst of what the Internet has to offer, cutting them lose after their stint is up without any help, therapy, or any support system to speak of. The decision to employ this sort of policy (hiring temps instead of using regular employees), the report suggests, is so that Google can save on employee related health care costs.
Needless to say, such actions not only destroy the lives of the temps, with many struggling with serious mental health issues years after their work with Google, but may in fact introduce a great deal more evil into society at large, as Google’s irresponsible policies seem to be a perfect recipe for actually creating these monsters, which they simply throw back into the general population.
In the end, while it’s clear that theTelecomblog simply isn’t the proper forum for an in depth discussion on what evil really is, I would wager a guess that most of us know it when we see it, and subjecting temporary employees to view the worst of what the Internet has to offer and then let them go without support or assistance because you want to save money on therapy costs–ulimately letting society shoulder the myriad of burdens this creates–is intentional, dangerous, and truly evil.