The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) today published a story showcasing the results of a report from the Campaign for Accountability. The story details a series of shady encounters between Google representatives and various Professors wherein Google appears to be paying academics to write specific papers.
According to the report, Google (and others) are influencing politics and students by paying high-dollar stipends to the professors who are willing to do its evil bidding. The WSJ says:
Google’s strategic recruitment of like-minded professors is one of the tech industry’s most sophisticated programs, and includes funding of conferences and research by trade groups, think tanks and consulting firms, according to documents and interviews with academics and lobbyists.
Google, in its response, says that the Campaign for Accountability is a biased organization pushing an anti-Google agenda. In an official blog post the company said:
The irony of discussing disclosures and transparency with the “Campaign for Accountability” is that this group consistently refuses to name its corporate funders. And those backers won’t ‘fess up either. The one funder the world does know about is Oracle, which is running a well-documented lobbying campaign against us. In its own name and through proxies, Oracle has funded many hundreds of articles, research papers, symposia and reports. Oracle is not alone—you can easily find similar activity by companies and organizations funded by our competitors, like AT&T, the MPAA, ICOMP, FairSearch and dozens more; including hundreds of pieces directly targeting Google.
Google defends itself against the accusations by simply admitting that, of course, they fund research. They point out that some of the articles mentioned in the report are actually arguing against Google on various issues.
It certainly looks like Google goes out of its way to find people who are interested in writing papers that portray them in a positive light, but it’s difficult to imagine an alternative. Google could stop funding research, maybe set up blind funds or something – but when it’s common industry practice for companies to fund research it would be strange for Google to be the only one to abstain.
Whether you think the Google monster is devouring free-will and taking over all of academia or you think its an over-blown accusation, you gotta admit that the company knows how to toss some shade:
We’re proud of our programs and their integrity. The “Campaign for Accountability” and its funders are, clearly, not proud of theirs.