GoogleGoogle (GOOG) built its empire on an impressive string of innovations that delighted a huge swath of consumers who in turn attracted advertisers anxious to market their wares to them.

But, as former Google engineering director James Whittaker explained in his widely circulated blog post titled "Why I left Google," much has changed since then -- for the worse.

In his post, Whittaker laments Google's transition from a tech company focused on providing users with quality content to an advertising company focused on mining personal information from its users.

Recent Google news lends credence to Whittaker's critique that users -- the once-beloved masses -- have been consigned by the company to play the role of advertising receptacles. Not only that, but Google's new focus has the company pursuing projects that may actually be harmful to users.

Here are five signs that users are losing status at Google.

Motley Fool contributor M. Joy Hayes, Ph.D. is the principal at ethics consulting firm Courageous Ethics. She doesn't own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Follow @JoyofEthics on Twitter.

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