Dancing for Big Brother: How Google and Facebook Censor Free Speech

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Are Google and Facebook Censoring Free Speech? Art Credit: Chet Dembeck

1984

Google and Facebook have become the mighty twins of online content. Google’s search engine is now ubiquitous, while  Facebook’s billion-plus membership as a social network covers every nook and cranny in the world. While this does connect people who were never connected before, the fact that these two huge tech companies hold a virtual monopoly on what content is seen, distributed and banished makes our world much less freer than it was before their advent.

Google Now Editor-And-Chief of the World

I first realized how Google was editing every article I wrote indirectly when many of the publications I worked for went bankrupt and I began earning a living as a freelance writer. In part, these companies went bankrupt because they could no longer compete with free advertising for jobs and other items on Craigslist and other Internet startups. But the double whammy to the world of journalism was that these publications also were paid no royalties whatsoever from Google and other search engines and social networks such as Facebook that used their content freely and often to attract new viewers so they could sell their adsense ads and increase their membership. Copyright was suddenly declared null and void.

As a starving freelancer, I soon discovered that when I began submitting stories or political opinion pieces,  I would soon hear back from an editor of the new online publication telling me that although my article was good there were certain problems with it because it wasn’t what Google wanted.

Being unemployed and needing income, I then rewrote the article trying to comply with Google’s guidelines, which included having a certain amount of keywords, links to other articles, even if such modifications weren’t adding anything to the article per se. Moreover, I soon found that there were certain political subjects Google frowned upon, especially anything of the conservative bent. Now, I never got any of this in writing, or was I told why they didn’t like a particular piece, but it soon became obvious that every time I filed articles that were favoring some candidate or politician that was conservative, they were summarily rejected by the editors of these publications. Or sometimes, they’d tell me to rewrite the piece and tone it down — and then reject it a second time. By the way, I didn’t get paid, if it wasn’t accepted.

Google and Facebook Indirectly Control Independent Sites

Now that I have my own site, I notice that whenever I mention certain terms words or phrases in an article, Google drags its feet on indexing the article. In fact, it may not index the article at all, which means no one will ever see it unless they happen to visit my site and go through my archives. In addition to that, several times a year, or sometimes more frequently, Google changes its search algorithms. It’s always a mystery as to why they do it, but we’re told its because it’s the company’s goal is to give their search customers the highest quality content. Yet, I have seen Google’s content quality go down to the basement. I can barely read any articles on Google today, because so many of them are riddled with ads, pop-ups and videos that start up automatically.

Plus, I’ve noticed that the majority of the articles being written today favor one side of the political spectrum, or they are sensationalized clickbait articles, which are being paid for. It’s really tough, today, on Google to search and find any real information. It’s no wonder that the term “Fake News” has taken on such a powerful meaning and gained so much traction!

Yet, I submit original articles I write every day that are not indexed in Google and go completely ignored for days, months or forever. I can only surmise that while Google talks a good game about promoting quality content, the company is really just interested in paid content. Or, Google is interested in content that fits its particular favored political agendas. Or, content that attacks its political or competitive enemies.

Not Quite As Egregious Yet

Facebook, on the other hand, is not quite as egregious as Google yet in it’s banning , or not promoting content it doesn’t care for. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that recently Facebook has bots that are questioning many of my posts saying they have been removed because they are spam. I then have to tell Facebook that my posts are not spam and a few times the bots actually thanked me and republished the post.

Considering that the post is simply an excerpt of an article I have written with a link to my site, I find Facebook’s definition of spam intriguing. My intent is not to spend too much time today on this subject, but I think the long-term implications of this type of censorship, which I expect will increase shortly, is a critical subject that will affect all of our futures.

I wonder if Google will index this article, even though it is original and thought-provoking? What do you think? 

1984

© 2018 Chet Dembeck



Categories: Future Trends

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