Whether it’s Apple, Microsoft, or Yahoo, only one tech giant has reigned supreme when it comes to our search engines. Google. It’s so dominant around the world that we use it as a verb. No, seriously, let me google that for you.
With so many other services connected to Google, what would happen if it went down? What could cause a Google outage? How would our lives be affected? What alternatives would pick up the slack?
With a recent but brief outage, Twitter was in a frenzy with the trending hashtag #googledown. Many third-party apps and services that rely on Google’s back end tech stopped working. Don’t worry. All your Pokémons are safe.
YouTubers, such as ourselves, briefly panicked as they were locked out of their accounts. While this problem was fixed within an hour, thanks to Google’s top-notch engineers, it has shown us just how important Google has become in our lives. So, how would our lives change if Google blacked out for an entire week?
If Google crashed or got hacked, they would likely be back up and running pretty quickly. They have a whole team of “bug bounty hunters” who find exploitable bugs and loopholes and report them.
Many of these bug hunters are former hackers themselves and are paid quite handsomely for their work. Since 2010, Google has spent over $21 million to find vulnerabilities in Google’s services. Wowza! Where do I sign up?
But just for fun, let’s consider a scenario where an expert hacker out hacks them all and causes a massive server crash. What would be the immediate repercussions? Well, for one, this channel and all the others on YouTube would be down, driving fans and creators to watch and create more content on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. Many YouTubers who rely on Google’s advertising payments for a living would have to pivot and seek alternatives, like Twitch or Vimeo. Talk about a Pewdie-pie-to-the-face.
With YouTube down, other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime would likely see a boost in sales. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With Google’s abundance of services linked to its servers, many businesses and schools would be compromised.
Many companies have incorporated Google’s suite of online apps, like Google Docs, Sheets, Photos, and Google Drive, into their business ecosystem. Schools like Wayne-Westland Community School in Michigan, USA, where students rely on Google Meets for their online lessons, experienced a new kind of snow day during the recent outage.
They are but one of several institutions and businesses that rely on and store all their data with Google. While there are many alternatives to Google’s popular services, one crash could lead to many others because of heavy traffic. Some smaller companies like Yahoo! may not have the server capacity to handle billions of users’ data and could tumble down and crash like digital dominoes.
Small businesses that rely on Google’s services excessively could end up shutting down completely, even from just one week without Google. On the other hand, since the outage is worldwide, maybe there would be a grace period from the government or stakeholders until things are back up. Fingers crossed. Regardless, there would be large monetary and productivity losses.
If your school or university relies on Google for remote work, well, you might get the entire week off. See? There’s always a silver lining.
And if you’re living in a smart home using Google, well, let’s hope this doesn’t happen to you. There’s gotta be a manual override button somewhere!? And if you’re like me and like to secretly google things on your phone at dinner parties to sound extra smart, well, don’t worry, you’d still have other options. But you might not find the same sources or quality of results using another search engine.
This is especially true because Google saves our searches and uses algorithms to show us results based on our location and search history. We have to remember that Google’s primary function, and what they do at the most fundamental level, is advertising. They are an advertising site that shows ads during searches or before and after YouTube videos. I know, I know it’s annoying. But it keeps food on the table for a lot of us out here.
There would be an immediate loss in revenue for companies who advertise on Google. Without Google Ads, the advertising service, some companies wouldn’t know where they stand with ad sales.
And with Google cut off, fewer stakeholders would invest in advertising using Google. Advertisements might not be as tailored or specific toward the users anymore.
Overall, trust in Google and its services would drop. Google would have to spend a lot of time, money, and effort trying to restore its credibility. Even if it were just a seven-day outage, it would make people fearful of something like this happening again with no warning.
This is not out of the question, but it is also not likely to happen. Google has access to some of the best and brightest employees. No problem is too hard to solve. But our reliance on Google’s search engine is unmatched. Google is not invincible.
During this week off Google, another company or start-up might create and launch the next big search engine that takes the world by storm and replaces Google. Hmm, what If “What If” became the next Google? I mean, we do have access to a lot of cool facts. I’m gonna have to start planning my dream home.
Okay, okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here. But maybe we should reconsider how much data and reliance our world has on one company. Many people have opted out of using Google due to privacy concerns. Maybe Google should work with users to come to fair agreements about how it collects and uses our data. With that said, always back up your data and try not to keep all your digital eggs in one basket. On the flip side, if Google and other megacorporations keep growing, they might even become a new form of technocratic government and run your city someday. You can google that for more info, or stick around, because that’s a story for another What IF.
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