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The internet is fast becoming a "cesspool" where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday. Speaking with an audience of magazine executives visiting the Google campus here as part of their annual industry conference, he said their brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted.
"Brands are the solution, not the problem," Mr. Schmidt said. "Brands are how you sort out the cesspool."
Quoting Schmidt :
That said, magazines and other professional content creators are essential for Google's efforts to help people find desirable content, he explained. "We don't do content," he said. "You all create content. It's a natural partnership."
It may be a fine partnership for Google but once magazines start giving away content their subscriptions likely drop dramatically. That said they are dependent on Google guaranteeing them rankings to exist and profit.
On the subject of print, especially newspapers as we have known them, Mr. Schmidt was decidedly gloomy. "The evidence is not good," he said, guessing that the print business will eventually comprise a smaller piece of publishers' much larger online businesses.
Won’t the same eventually happen to the magazines, as they become dependent on search engine rankings. Plus the rankings would likely have to be guaranteed if I was encouraging a magazine to go in Google’s direction.
But that doesn't mean branded content is of higher quality than independent content without the funds to brand.
It's now possible for anyone to lie and rumor-monger on a global scale that was, only a few years ago, available only to a handful of mass-media companies that, at least, were answerable to stockholders, the public, and relevant government agencies. Today, you can lie to the whole world without any significant investment whatsoever.
What to do? Damned if I know.