Google’s AutoLink Does Evil

You may have read about the Google Toolbar’s new AutoLink feature. You may wonder what the big deal is?

I was wondering too. At first glance, they are just linking maps. This may be a little annoying to Yahoo, because it wants you to use their maps, but not the end of the world.

But the real problem comes with books. For instance, there are authors out on the net promoting their books via their web pages. They make modest amounts of money each year doing this. But, if you install the Google Toolbar, Google replaces these links with links of their own! If the end user clicks those links, then the commission for selling the book bypasses the author and instead goes to Google! Woa! That is really unfair, unjust, and unright.

Rogers Cadenhead writes a better article than this one about why its just not right for Google to do this.

Here are some quick screenshots (see the circled red area for Google’s links)

Before Google After Google

Anyway, the really funny part of all this is that Microsoft tried this a few years ago with a product called SmartTags. Opposition was so strong to SmartTags, that after being blasted for a while, Microsoft pulled the feature. Lots of people are noticing this now. Dan Gillmor, Robert Scoble, and mikel.

To Google – if you are listening – I love your company and products, you are doing a lot of good stuff. But this feature has to be removed. This will be the impetus to really stop using your products if you do not. (Boy will I miss adwords!)