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Google Follows Big Tech Lead in Information Censorship

According to a recent report by Breitbart, big tech giant Google has been increasing the powers of censorship it gives to moderators, following other big tech companies who are becoming less and less ashamed about censoring content.

Breitbart has previously reported how censorship from Google has been used to manipulate politics, especially in the past four years leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Google manually filters certain websites through moderators that make individual judgments about whether certain sites can be banned or suppressed. If a website discovers that it has been deemed guilty of a violation, it can attempt to fix it, but it could take several days or even a week for the process to unfold.

Google’s website claims that:

“Google issues a manual action against a site when a human reviewer at Google has determined that pages on the site are not compliant with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. Most manual actions address attempts to manipulate our search index. Most issues reported here will result in pages or sites being ranked lower or omitted from search results without any visual indication to the user.” 

Google claims they want to improve the quality of its searches. It aims to filter out websites trying to cheat their way to the top of the results page. One can find the complete list of policies on the Google website.

Some of the policies that can be used to silence websites through manual action include:

·      News and Discover policy violation: Dangerous content

·      News and Discover policy violation: Harassing content

·      News and Discover policy violation: Hateful content

·      News and Discover policy violation: Manipulated media

·      News and Discover policy violation: Medical content

·      Discover policy violation: Misleading content

·      News and Discover policy violation: Sexually explicit content

·      News and Discover policy violation: Terrorist content

·      News policy violation: Transparency

·      News and Discover policy violation: Violence and gore content

·      News and Discover policy violation: Vulgar language and profanity.

Did the former Google engineer lie?

Breitbart has also done a report based on testimony from a former Google engineer Mike Wacker, who claims CEO Sundar Pichai lied when claiming that it does not manually intervene on users’ search results.

Wacker noticed certain searches would be subject to a blacklist, then given automated results that expelled information that the original search would have turned up. These alternative search results given for blacklisted searches were the result of moderators who changed the original search results after users’ complaints. Specifically, Wacker noticed this happened after a pro-choice activist complained about a YouTube search that resulted in a blacklist anytime someone searched abortion on Google. 

Google claims that their new censorship guidelines will improve the quality of their searches. Images: amazonaws/ CC0.1.0

“As it turns out, the question of ‘what we’re going to show the user’ is not dictated solely by algorithms and automated processes, and the biases of Google’s employees could have something to do with those search results,” Wacker stated.

Additionally, Breitbart found that Google may have even been interfering with the 2020 Presidential election through a manipulation process called a “political search bias.” In May 2020, when doing Google searches, you were “highly unlikely” to come across any reports by Breitbart; if you searched for “Joe Biden” or anything related to Biden, the results were down to zero. 

Breitbart claimed, “On May 1, Google searches for “Joe Biden” generated approximately 30,000 impressions (views, used as a metric for advertisers) for Breitbart links. After May 5, both impressions and clicks went to zero.” 

Furthermore, Google search traffic to Breitbart has gone down 63 percent, comparing the first half of 2016 to 2020. Dr. Robert Epstien, a psychologist and former Hillary Clinton supporter, studied the effects of search engine bias on voters. He believes that Google has blacklisted Breitbart. 

“Voters do not expect Google to be biased in the same way that CNN or the New York Times to be biased, so when they search on Google, they think they are getting unbiased information when that might not necessarily be the case,” Epstein said. “Big tech could influence an extraordinary number of voters without any trace… In 2020—if all these [big tech] companies are supporting the same candidate—there are 15 million votes on the line that can be shifted without people’s knowledge, and without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace.”

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  • David Wagner is a University of Manitoba graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion in Sociology. He is interested in the psychology of religious and ideological belief and the relationship between religions and the state in totalitarian countries.

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