Walt Mossberg on Google's AutoLink

After weeks of web designers complaining, Google may start to listen since Walt Mossberg comes down on it:

Still, the feature has disturbing consequences for Web site owners. In my tests, for instance, it added links to the addresses of movie theaters I had called up in a Yahoo page, and the links took me to Google Maps, not to Yahoo’s own map page. When I looked up a book on eCampus, a book-selling site, AutoLink turned the ISBN numbers on the page into links to Amazon, which competes with eCampus to sell the books. When I looked up a used car for sale on AutoTrader, AutoLink turned the VIN numbers into links to Carfax, not to a competing auto-history-report seller, AutoCheck, used by AutoTrader.

Proponents of AutoLink, including Google, argue that it’s a feature that benefits the user and/or that the user has a right to do whatever they want with content that is given to them. That’s true, but Google is the one doing this, not the user.

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