Technological prowess provokes admiration, let’s face it. Google Maps like Google Earth offer breathtaking images and services. It is both magical and so practical. Stroll through the streets of Paris or climb to the top of Mont Blanc, visit the moving ruins of Petra or discover the dreadful Monument to the founding of the Workers’ Party in Pyongyang. With a few clicks, one can find an artist in San Francisco or the opening hours of the Algiers post office.
Obviously these services are only apparently free. Google is a company, with a culture, a worldview and of course economic goals. When you visit the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, you can’t help but be struck by this strong desire to change the world. And surely Google is changing the world, transforming our world, but where to go? “Don’t be evil” (“Don’t be malicious”) said the company’s code of conduct until 2018.
On the front page of La Croix L’Hebdo this week “Google, the master of maps”. Our survey on Google maps and Google earth: technological prowess and ethical issues. pic.twitter.com/UVVTrM4r2k
– Ponce Anne (@ ponceanne1) January 22, 2021
Today we could say to users that we are: “Don’t be stupid” (“Don’t be stupid”). Because the service necessarily has a counterpart: advertising, collection of our personal data, etc. And you have to be aware of it. Besides, why not say it, these questions are particularly acute for the press. Google and its other Gafam accomplices (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) allow the media to broaden their audiences, offer journalists investigative tools, and even funding. But at the same time, they undermine their economic model by installing the idea that news is free, by interposing itself between readers and their media, by capturing publicity.
→ READ. Digital: the guide to escape the stranglehold of GAFAM
The place taken by these tech giants and their situation of quasi-monopoly are becoming political questions and issues of society. And that’s why La Croix L’Hebdo addresses these topics on a regular basis (1). Not to play the killjoy. But to inform and think together, to understand and act better. The ethical issues revealed by technological developments are among the most decisive of our time.