Google often has blundered into trouble simply because it's operating in such a large, unfamiliar, and diverse world. Sometimes these misunderstandings are easy to resolve, such as one that came up in Southeast Asia.
When a picture of King Bhumibol Adulyandej of Thailand, blended with that of a giraffe, appeared on YouTube, Thailand blocked YouTube in that country. Nicole Wong, Google deputy general counsel, went to Thailand to help resolve the issue. Her meeting was on a Monday morning, and she was astounded when she saw people wearing yellow shirts and blouses in the streets, subways, offices, and markets. They were everywhere.
On that day of the week, Thais wear yellow to honor the beloved, 81-year-old titular head of their nation. Wong realized immediately that YouTube had blundered into a cultural clash. The offending image was blocked in Thailand but was available on YouTube elsewhere. YouTube was restored in Thailand.
Other conflicts, such as those involving fraud, pornography, privacy, advocating violence, and human rights, are thornier.
All of the search providers have been plagued with click fraud, the practice of manipulating the status of a website, either to make a site look more desirable or to cause trouble or run up costs for a competing website.
There's no end to the mischief. Piggybacking and conquest buys also offend advertisers and distort the usefulness of Google advertising. Piggybacking occurs when smaller ...