But as soon as Google offered a good search with minimal advertising the market spoke very loudly about that kind of thing.
Google wasn't the first search engine with a minimalist site design; Altavista started that, and I think you're right about it being an important driver for their success. This was in the days of dial-up, and the difference between loading the Yahoo page and the Altavista one was quite a few seconds.
The model for today's social networks appear to be to deliberately start with low-friction, low-bullshit, come-in-we're-open policies (sometimes after a beta-for-the-leet-only period), become popular, then cash in and pile on the restrictions, rules, ads and dataraping. Not that I begrudge the founders of a good startup their fortunes, and I'm not a big fan of the word "sell-out" and the sentiment that it carries, but in some of these cases that word does apply. When you sell your initial users on being all open and huggy, with the intent of adding massive monetization schemes later (or selling your business to someone who will), then you ought to feel a little bit sleazy about it.
Whatever fines are collected should be distributed to the lawyers representing the people that they violated - and I'm not one of them.
We don't expect an architect fresh out of college to design a skyscraper, nor a guy with a new medical degree to perform complex procedures on his own, nor a newly graduated MBA to run a division. (Sometimes it does happen, with crap results as a rule). By the same token, someone starting out in coding shouldn't be made responsible for critical parts of the software, design work, etc. They need coaching and training, same as in any other highly skilled profession. The problem is that, unlike other professions, there seems to be a lack of time, budget, or even perceived need to provide such coaching to new coders.
By the way, I think coding should be taught to (more or less) everyone in high school. Not with the goal of teaching them to code, but because coding teaches and trains other skills that are valuable in many other professions: problem analysis, troubleshooting, logic, etc.
Maybe these guys are on to something...