There has been a lot of buzz lately about Facebook and its collecting and dissemination of data to third parties on its billions of members, which is the somewhat hidden price they pay for a free membership to the social media network. Still, Facebook with all its warts and contradictions is in the minor leagues when compared to Google’s censorship of content.
While there can be absolutely no justification for the recent storming of YouTube headquarters by a homicidal and disgruntled content creator who went on a shooting spree and then killed herself over YouTube’s changing policies, there has to be an acknowledgement that Google and its subsidiary YouTube can negatively change peoples’ lives in a heartbeat when each services arbitrarily changes its censoring policies. (I pray for the speedy recovery of those YouTube employees injured in the unjustified rampage).
I have known dozens of hard-working entrepreneurs who have spent years building up a following on a Web site, offering good content and services, only to have their businesses tank in a few weeks after Google or YouTube put in force a new policy change that removed them, or lowered their position on its search engine’s search results to the point their sites could no longer be found.
Google will tell you that it changes its complex, secret search algorithms and YouTube every few months to improve the search experience for its world of customers. But if you really look into individual cases, you’ll find Google’s top searches are often paid searches that promote click-bait articles that are impossible to read because of one or several automatic videos that pop up every few seconds. Also, you’ll notice that the changes often exclude some of the rich and famous YouTubers. If that is what Google considers as improving its search experience, then Google has failed miserably.
Conservative Politics – Forget It
When the entire news industry collapsed as a result of free ads on Craig’s List and free news articles being published online without any royalties being paid to those who produced the articles, I and thousands of reporters like me found themselves suddenly unemployed and in the new realm of freelancing.
I can tell you first hand that Google is no friend of the freelancer. In fact, after new online publishers discovered Google’s editorial wants and needs for certain types of articles, written and shaped to its work count and link specs, they would tell you upfront when you submitted an idea or completed article: “Google doesn’t like this kind of piece.” They never really put the guidelines in writing, but they would quickly reject most articles that weren’t left leaning politically. That’s just the way it is.
Let me illustrate: do a search on Donald Trump on Google. You are going to get nothing but anti-Trump, bias news from known Trump haters such as CNN. You’re not going to get any balanced coverage, or pro-Trump coverage. No way.
So, in reality, you have a private company, which is not regulated by the FCC like radio and TV stations are, shaping worldwide opinion both on a micro and macro level. Google is not giving both sides of the political spectrum anything close to parity. In fact, it is outrageous just how blatantly slanted Google search results are. Simple truth: Google has become the ultimate censor.
This is just the beginning. Google’s algorithms make the “Memory Hole” in George Orwell’s 1984 look like child’s play. With a few clicks, Google can make every article or reference to you just go away, or go so low on the search that no one will ever see it. Google can also make negative articles on companies and politicians go away with a few clicks. I used to be able to find negative reviews on companies I was considering doing business with. Today, most of them have disappeared. Controlling and fixing companies’ and individuals’ online reputations has become a growing business. More censorship. Buyers and voters beware!
Drudge Warned Us Long Ago
Matt Drudge, pioneer Internet entrepreneur, warned all of us about the danger of Google and Facebook censorship long ago. He proved to be a true visionary and should have been heeded. If he had, by now we would have had some type of regulations that would guarantee that search engines like Google give fair access in its search engines to all points of view. As it stands now, John the Baptist, who was considered a wildly unpopular voice in the wilderness, would never have made it to Google’s first, second or ever third page. As it stands today, only Google-approved ideas need apply.