You already know I despise marketing, advertising, and the people involved in it. The reason is simple, as I have said before: in order to do advertising you generally have to promote something as being better than you know it to be.
This is a perfectly loathsome example: [guard]
Fossil fuel companies and firms that work closely with them are among the biggest spenders on ads designed to look like Google search results, in what campaigners say is an example of “endemic greenwashing”.
The Guardian analysed ads served on Google search results for 78 climate-related terms, in collaboration with InfluenceMap, a thinktank that tracks the lobbying efforts of polluting industries.
The results show that over one in five ads seen in the study – more than 1,600 in total – were placed by companies with significant interests in fossil fuels.
Generally, I don’t see ads – even my google searches are filtered through an ad-blocker. Ads are always unattractive interruptions to whatever else a person is doing, a crafted attempt to inject a little bullshit into your attention-stream.
Remember when Google’s founders used to say “don’t be evil”? Look how long that lasted, melted away in the blast-furnace of capitalist greed. The founders were too naive to understand that, once they took the capitalists’ money, the evil was de rigeur because it’s endemic in the system they had just joined:
ExxonMobil, Shell, Aramco, McKinsey, and Goldman Sachs were among the top-20 advertisers on the search terms, while a number of other fossil fuel producers and their financiers also placed ads.
Jake Carbone, senior data analyst at InfluenceMap, said: “Google is letting groups with a vested interest in the continued use of fossil fuels pay to influence the resources people receive when they are trying to educate themselves.
That’s the worst part of it, speaking of evil. Attempting to get upstream in someone’s educational journey, so as to taint everything that flows from it – if that’s not evil, the word has no meaning.*
The simple answer would be that Google needn’t carry deliberately deceptive ads. It’s a corporation – it does not need to extend free speech rights to advertisers that are working against humanity’s interests. But, that would make Google “self-hating advertisers” I suppose, since they are also working against humanity’s interests.
*I actually go with “the word has no meaning” because I’m skeptical about human moral systems and our ability at a non-individual level to declare something to be “evil” or not. The best I can get is 99 out of 100 people we polled agree, except the remaining 1% probably works for a marketing firm and is not answering honestly. I have wanted for years (seriously) to do some postings about nihilism as a form of skepticism, but – ugh – it’d take several days of focused attention to do the careful writing it would require.
I mentioned this in a comment over at Affinity; it’s a thing I’ve known about for some time (I think I learned it from Nima and Adam over at Citations Needed) but the notion of “carbon footprint” is a creation of fossil fuel polluting companies – specifically British Petroleum – who wanted to create a marketing campaign to draw people’s attention away from what they are doing, and focus it on our individual actions. Our individual actions, largely, don’t let us significantly impact the climate anyway – the leverage would be to stop governments from subsidizing oil extraction and burning huge amounts of fuel with their militaries – but let’s get people worrying about what kind of grocery bags they use, while the global elite continue flying to Davos and breeding up new generations of global elites that will inherit their yachts and mansions. Your personal carbon footprint is miniscule compared to Kim Kardashian’s, but by all means feel guilt instead of rage. Neither will affect the fossil fuel companies’ behavior, or Kim’s in the slightest.