‘I was looking for moral guidance and thought the internet might be able to provide me with enlightenment,’ said 53-year-old Tommy Jones. ‘But my Google searches about responsible and equitable living all went unanswered. A simple inquiry ‘How can multinational corporations contribute to society?’ turned up no results, while an open query about the redistribution of wealth through taxation only brought up adverts for some banks in the Cayman Islands.’
Subsequent searches by Mr Jones produced no better results. ‘My question to Google about the role of censorship in concealing human rights abuses redirected me to the Chinese Government’s homepage, and my search for ‘international privacy law’ took me straight to Google Streetview where they had footage of me opening my front door in my pyjamas and the words ‘We Know Where You Live’ flashing across the screen.’
In a final episode of bad luck, Mr Jones’s Google search for ‘corporate tax evasion’ only led him back to the Google search engine homepage where a customised doodle showed a masked man tiptoeing away from a bank with a bulging bag marked ‘Swag’ over his shoulder. ‘I just presumed it was a tribute to an artist I’d never heard of,’ said Mr Jones.
Although Mr Jones has vowed never to use Google products again, the company has nevertheless apologised to him. ‘It’s a sad day whenever we lose a customer and their rich supply of marketing data,’ said Google’s UK public relations director. ‘I never met Mr Jones, but I know he was keen on gardening, had financial problems and was being prescribed medicines for stress. It’s amazing how close you can feel to your customers.’
Mr Jones reported a much better service from rival technology giant Apple who used his browsing history to suggest that he downloads George Harrison’s ‘Taxman’ from iTunes.