Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tell the Future

As you may have noticed, Google (or Alphabet) has been releasing new and interesting products all the time. From the announcement about Alphabet itself to a solar panel savings calculator, new stuff keeps on coming.

Yesterday, I was delighted to see this post in my Facebook newsfeed:

Google Fortune Telling? This reminded me of those old early 2000's websites that claimed they could tell your future or predict which button you would press. All a wonderful exercise in hilarity. But then, when has Google ever steered me wrong before? How could they take part in something so...well, hoaxy? So I took a leap. I clicked on the link. This is what I was presented with:

Nothing but a blank page, save for a very familiar search box. Inside, the text reads "Type here a question about your future". I began to type, and found that the searchbar began to type on its own! I was then provided with four "autofill" phrases to pick from, all relating to wartime and peril.

All of them lead to the same page:

Ah, now all is revealed. This was but a ploy to get people to donate to refugees from Syria. Honestly, I never would have clicked a link that was upfront about asking me to donate to a charity. The sad fact is that if people don't want to donate, they won't. On the other hand, if they do, they will probably be motivated enough to seek out a charity on their own.

Raising awareness is important, but Google using clickbait seems a little shady to me. I have never faltered in my trust of Google before, but now I am a tiny bit shaken. Especially considering the fact that they are constantly releasing projects that once seemed impossible, people may not be so quick to believe in all of their far-fetched projects in future.

In any case, hopefully this ploy has raised more money than would have been raised without its existence, and there's definitely some value in that.

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