Marissa Mayer wants to know: 'Why is the web getting worse?'

Marissa Mayer wants to know: ‘Why is the web getting worse?’

Former Google search chief Marissa Mayer has concerns about her former employer and the internet in general.

“I do think the quality of the internet has taken a hit,” Mayer, the former Yahoo chief executive and longtime Google GOOGL,
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exec who co-founded app maker Sunshine Contacts, said during this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio, which posits, “Is Google Getting Worse?”

“When you see the quality of your search results go down, it’s natural to blame Google and be like, ‘Why are they worse?’ she added. “To me, the most interesting and sophisticated thought is if you say, ‘Wait, but Google’s just a window onto the web. The real question is, why is the web getting worse?”

‘When you see the quality of your search results go down, it’s natural to blame Google and be like, “Why are they worse?” To me, the most interesting and sophisticated thought is if you say, “Wait, but Google’s just a window onto the web. The real question is, why is the web getting worse?”’


—Marissa Mayer

Mayer, along with Google’s current vice president of search, Liz Reid, discussed why Google now answers many searched questions in-platform rather than pointing people towards other websites — a move some call anticompetitive.

“(M)y sense is that recent uptick in the number of inline results is because they are concerned about some of the low-quality experiences out on the web,” Mayer said. “I think the problem is really hard. You might not like the way that Google’s solving it at the moment, but given how the web is changing and evolving, I’m not sure that the old approach, if reapplied, would do as well as you’d like it to.”

“I think because there’s a lot of economic incentive for misinformation, for clicks, for purchases,” Mayer said. “There’s a lot more fraud on the web today than there was 20 years ago.”

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