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Thread: How Google Censors The Internet & What You Think Is There

  1. #1

    Default How Google Censors The Internet & What You Think Is There

    While this article was written by and much about one socialist website, the general principles apply to all websites that are in anyway alternative, progressive, critical of or anti-capitalist, whistleblowers, presenting information and opinion opposed to the official propaganda lines, etc.

    Google’s new search protocol is restricting access to 13 leading socialist, progressive and anti-war web sites


    2 August 2017

    New data compiled by the World Socialist Web Site, with the assistance of other Internet-based news outlets and search technology experts, proves that a massive loss of readership observed by socialist, anti-war and progressive web sites over the past three months has been caused by a cumulative 45 percent decrease in traffic from Google searches.
    The drop followed the implementation of changes in Google’s search evaluation protocols. In a statement issued on April 25, Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.”
    The World Socialist Web Site has obtained statistical data from SEMrush estimating the decline of traffic generated by Google searches for 13 sites with substantial readerships. The results are as follows:
    * wsws.org fell by 67 percent
    * alternet.org fell by 63 percent
    * globalresearch.ca fell by 62 percent
    * consortiumnews.com fell by 47 percent
    * socialistworker.org fell by 47 percent
    * mediamatters.org fell by 42 percent
    * commondreams.org fell by 37 percent
    * internationalviewpoint.org fell by 36 percent
    * democracynow.org fell by 36 percent
    * wikileaks.org fell by 30 percent
    * truth-out.org fell by 25 percent
    * counterpunch.org fell by 21 percent
    * theintercept.com fell by 19 percent
    Of the 13 web sites on the list, the World Socialist Web Site has been the most heavily affected. Its traffic from Google searches has fallen by two thirds.
    The new statistics demonstrate that the WSWS is a central target of Google’s censorship campaign. In the twelve months preceding the implementation of the new Google protocols, the WSWS had experienced a substantial increase in readership. A significant component of this increase was the product of Google search results. The rapid rise in search traffic reflected the well-documented growth in popular interest in socialist politics during 2016. The rate of growth accelerated following the November election, which led to large protests against the election of Trump.
    Search traffic to the WSWS peaked in April 2017, precisely at the point when Google began the implementation of its censorship protocols.
    Another site affected by Google’s action has provided information that confirms the findings of the WSWS.
    “In late May, changes to Google’s algorithm negatively impacted the volume of traffic to the Common Dreams website from organic Google searches,” said Aaron Kaufman, director of development at progressive news outlet Common Dreams. “Since May, traffic from Google Search as a percentage of total traffic to the Common Dreams website has decreased nearly 50 percent.”
    The extent and impact of Google’s actions prove that a combination of techniques is being employed to block access to targeted sites. These involve the direct flagging and blackballing of the WSWS and the other 12 sites listed above by Google evaluators. These sites are assigned a highly negative rating that assures that their articles will be either demoted or entirely bypassed. In addition, new programming technology teaches the computers to think like the evaluators, that is, to emulate their preferences and prejudices.
    Finally, the precision of this operation strongly suggests that there is an additional range of exclusion techniques involving the selection of terms, words, phrases and topics that are associated with socialist and left-wing websites.
    This would explain why the World SocialistWeb Site, which focuses on issues such as war, geopolitics, social inequality and working class struggles has experienced such a dramatic fall in Google-generated searches on these very topics. We have seen that the very terms and phrases that would under normal circumstances be most likely to generate the highest level of hits—such as “socialism,” “Marxism” and “Trotskyism”—produce the lowest results.
    This is an ongoing process in which one can expect that Google evaluators are continuously adding suspect terms to make their algorithm ever more precise, with the eventual goal of eliminating traffic to the WSWS and other targeted sites.
    The information that has been gathered and published by the WSWS during the past week exposes that Google is at the center of a corporate-state conspiracy to drastically curtail democratic rights. The attack on free speech and uncensored access to information is aimed at crippling popular opposition to social inequality, war and authoritarianism.
    The central and sinister role of Google in this process demonstrates that freedom of speech and thought is incompatible with corporate control of the Internet.
    As we continue our exposure of Google’s assault on democratic rights, we demand that it immediately and unequivocally halt and revoke its censorship program.
    It is critical that a coordinated campaign be organized within the United States and internationally against Google’s censorship of the Internet. We intend to do everything in our power to develop and contribute to a counter-offensive against its efforts to suppress freedom of speech and thought.
    The fight against corporate-state censorship of the Internet is central to the defense of democratic rights, and there must be a broad-based collaboration among socialist, left and progressive websites to alert the public and the widest sections of the working class.

    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #2

    Default

    Google’s new search engine bias is no accident

    30 September 2017Alternet has gone public with concerns about the way Google and Facebook have limited traffic to its website and, more generally, undermined access to progressive and independent media.
    Its traffic from web searches has dropped precipitously – by 40 per cent – since Google introduced new algorithms in the summer. Other big progressive sites have reported similar, or worse, falls. More anecdotally, and less significantly, I have noticed on both my own website and Facebook page a sharp drop in views and shares in recent weeks.
    Alternet is appealing for financial help, justifiably afraid that the drop in traffic will impact its revenues and threaten its future.
    Nonetheless, there is something deeply misguided, even dangerous, about its description of what is happening. Here is how its executive editor, Don Hazen, describes Alternet’s problems:
    Little did we know that Google had decided, perhaps with bad advice or wrong-headed thinking, that media like AlterNet—dedicated to fighting white supremacy, misogyny, racism, Donald Trump, and fake news—would be clobbered by Google in its clumsy attempt to address hate speech and fake news. …
    So the reality we face is that two companies, Google and Facebook—which are not media companies, do not have editors or fact-checkers, and do no investigative reporting—are deciding what people should read, based on a failure to understand how media and journalism function.
    “Bad advice”, “wrong-headed”, “clumsy”, “failure to understand”. Alternet itself is the one that has misunderstood what is going on. There is nothing accidental or clumsy about what Google and Facebook are doing. In fact, what has happened was entirely predictable as soon as western political and media elites started raising their voices against “fake news”.
    That was something I and others warned about at the time. Here is what I wrote on this blog late last year:
    But the claim of “fake news” does usefully offer western security agencies, establishment politicians and the corporate media a powerful weapon to silence their critics. After all, these critics have no platform other than independent websites and social media. Shut down the sites and you shut up your opponents.
    Google and Facebook have been coming under relentless and well-documented pressure from traditional media corporations and the political establishment to curb access to independent news and analysis sites, especially those offering highly critical perspectives on the policies and behaviour of western corporations and state bureaucracies. These moves are intimately tied to ongoing efforts to spread the dishonest claim that progressive sites are working in the service of Russia’s Vladimir Putin in his alleged attempts to subvert western democracies.
    Shadowy groups like PropOrNot have been springing up to make such wildly unsubstantiated claims, which have then been taken up as authoritative by traditional corporate media like the Washington Post. It is noticeable that the list of sites suffering sudden downturns in traffic closely correlates with the progressive websites defamed as Putin propaganda outfits by PropOrNot.
    The pressure on Google and Facebook is not going to ease. And the two new-media giants are not likely to put up any more resistance than is absolutely necessary to suggest they are still committed to some abstract notion of free speech. Given that their algorithms and distribution systems are completely secret, they can say one thing in public and do something else entirely in private.
    Other comments by Hazen further suggest that Alternet does not really understand the new environment it finds itself in. He writes:
    Ben Gomes, the company’s vice president for engineering, stated in April that Google’s update of its search engine would block access to ‘offensive’ sites, while working to surface more ‘authoritative content’. This seemed like a good idea. Fighting fake news, which Trump often uses to advance his interests and rally his supporters, is an important goal that AlterNet shares.
    Fake news can be found across much of the media spectrum: in the New York Times, CNN, BBC, Guardian, as well in Donald Trump’s tweets. It has existed for as long as powerful interests have dominated the media and its news agenda – which is since the invention of print. Fake news cannot be defeated by giving greater powers to huge media conglomerations to decide what people should hear. It is defeated by true media pluralism – something we have barely experienced even now, in this brief heady period of relative online freedom.
    Alternet is treating Google and Facebook, and the powerful corporate interests behind them, as if they can be tamed and made to see sense, and persuaded that they should support progressive media. That is not going to happen.
    Like the media barons of old, who alone could afford to distribute newspapers through truck deliveries and corner shops, Google and Facebook are the monopolistic distribution platforms for new and social media. They have enormous power to decide what you will see and read, and they will use that power in their interests – not yours.
    They will continue to refine and tighten their restrictions so that access to dissident media becomes harder and harder. It will happen so subtly and incrementally that there is a real danger few will notice how they have been gradually herded back into the arms of the media corporations.


    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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