Google The Good

Google Earth, a satellite mapping service from the search giant that seeks to “do no evil,” has teamed with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in a bold move to shine light on the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.
photo courtesy of Houtlust
Thanks to this initiative, 200 million Google Earth users worldwide can now literally see razed villages, casualties and squalid refugee camps in the central African nation.
London’s Telegraph says:

Human rights workers commended the project. “It cuts through all the Sudanese government’s attempts to hide what is happening in Darfur by stopping journalists from going there and expelling aid workers,” said Ishbel Matheson of the Minority Rights Group who, as a BBC reporter, was among the first to cover the crisis.
“This is very important when it comes to rallying global support. If Darfur slips off the international agenda, if there is no public pressure, then nothing will happen.”
But Google Earth has adopted a highly controversial view of the Darfur conflict. It unquestioningly labels the war a “genocide” even though a United Nations investigation ruled in 2005 that the term did not apply to the events in Darfur.

Let’s explore the so-called controversy for a minute. Google is using their technology, their money and their convictions to fight injustice in the world. How does this make me, one of their daily customers, feel? I love it. I’ve always believed that advertising is a powerful medium (mostly used for questionable means). Helping to end suffering wherever it might be found is the right thing to do. I salute Google for caring about such things, instead of concentrating exclusively on making more money.
For more information on this crisis, see

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. But how would you feel if it was promoting an agenda you DIDN’T agree with? What if it was pro-Bush Iraq policy and you weren’t? Or worse, what if it even used its power to enable the government of Darfur by keeping damning photos off it’s service?
    Isn’t it already doing this to some extent by playing ball with the Chinese government?
    Or in the words of Alan Moore, who’s watching the watchmen?

  2. Good point. But who do you trust more? Government or business? For me, that’s an easy answer. I trust business more. Business has built in checks and balances–the marketplace.

  3. While I agree in principle with the first comment, this isn’t exactly a contentious issue with a two-sided argument. It’s virtually impossible to agree with what’s happening in Darfur.
    On another note, I find business’s checks and balances, especially in the era of giant corporations owning all the major media outlets, to be very slow-moving and dubious. Only my opinion, of course.