As Google continues to intrude on personal privacy beyond the wildest dreams of the National Security Agency, become the global arbiter of good and evil and to set the standards for acceptable speech media codes, it’s time to see how this $500 billion mega-corporation used for two-thirds of Internet searches actually works.
There’s a 180-page document created by Google that lays it all out.
For the most part, it’s fairly sensible in its methodology. I would even say I agree with 90 percent or more of its common-sense standards. But, as with all attempts by mankind to impose a worldview on behavior, control thought, speech and media, create a common denominator of socio-political and cultural acceptability and boil this all down into algorithms, the Google attempt at objectivity displays some critical shortcomings.
Before I share my concerns with Google’s “search quality guidelines” manifesto, I want to make sure you can evaluate it for yourself. It’s found here, so you can see I am not making any of this up or resorting to speculation.
One of the issues dividing the U.S. and the world today is the definition of two words – “hate” and “violence.”
It shouldn’t be so hard to define such basic terms, yet it is for some.
As for me, I can accept the basic dictionary definition of these terms:
- Hate: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest;
- Violence: an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws;
Is hate always wrong? I tend to think hate of individuals is almost always wrong. But there are some exceptions. I hate Adolf Hitler. I hate Joseph Stalin. I hate that little punk, Kim Jong-un, in North Korea who systematically starves and imprisons his own people and threatens others with nuclear annihilation.
I hate certain ideologies because of their destructiveness to humanity – Nazism, fascism, communism, Islamism.
I hate people who seek to exterminate others because of their own hate or to incite violence against others because of their own hate.
I freely admit this.
There are some groups I genuinely hate, too, among them: the Ku Klux Klan and another that has made a fortune claiming to fight and destroy the KKK – the Southern Poverty Law Center – when, in fact, it simply uses its target to raise money, stash it away offshore and destroy the reputations of others by creating bogus links to white supremacists, neo-Nazis and fascists, and to incite violence against their targets.
With those definitions out of the way, let me get back to Google’s standards of hate and violence – section 7.9 of its aforementioned document, found on Page 49.
What Google says about its search standards is actually fine with me:
It uses the lowest search ratings for pages created “with the sole purpose of promoting hate or violence against a group of people.” It defines those groups as in these categories: “race or ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality or citizenship, disability, age, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”
Again, who could argue with this? Certainly not me. But notice what it does not include as one of the categories?
Would anyone argue that there are some genuinely evil ideologies in the world? You might not agree with my short list, but, almost without question, everyone has their own short list of hated ideologies. And that’s where honest political debate enters the picture.
Google and many other major corporations, governments and powerful institutions have their own short lists, too.
We’ve seen recently the example of Google firing one of its employees for an attempt at raising purely ideology debate within the Google corporate culture.
But here’s where Google shows its true ideologically subjective colors: “Reputation research is important for identifying websites that promote hate and violence. The Pew Research Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center are some reputable sources that can be used for reputation research.”
Look how Google determines whether websites promote hate and violence. Standard guidelines are set by Pew Research Center, Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center – the last of which I would argue is an actual hate group!
The ADL, by the way, long ago ceased being the No. 1 opponent of anti-Semitism in the world, settling into what I would describe as a guardian of liberal orthodoxy, raising fears about the tea-party movement and identifying me, for instance, as an extremist and anti-government “conspiracy theorist” in a 2009 report for which it has never apologized.
This illustrates the problem one has – anyone, any corporation, any government, any powerful institution – when it comes to establishing political orthodoxy or ideological legitimacy or, more to the point, censorship standards.
And that is what Google, as one of those increasingly powerful institutions, is attempting to do.
But there’s more in this report by Google that bears noting. On Page 108, review these more subjective no-no’s for restricting search access, keeping in mind Google’s own liberal orthodoxy:
- “Pages that directly contradict well established scientific or medical consensus for queries seeking scientific or medical information, unless the query indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint” (emphasis added).
- “Pages that directly contradict well-established historical facts (e.g., unsubstantiated conspiracy theories), unless the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint” (emphasis added).
You can only imagine how a website offering responsible “alternative” news and views is demonstrably and irrevocably hurt by Google’s algorithmic standards for searches.
Does a private business have every right to set its own standards for doing business? Of course. But Google long ago became a public business and is fast approaching monopoly status, which is why, in America, we have anti-trust laws.
Bottom line: Google is at war with the kind of alternative news and views the new media have created. As the very first pioneer in new media, I’ve experienced the battle scars for more than 20 years, even though Google is a relative newcomer having been founded a year after I started WND as the first independent online news alternative.
Google doesn’t like “alternatives.” Google doesn’t like independent thought. And Google doesn’t like dissent.
In fact, you might even say, Google hates these things.
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