Google, continuing to distance itself from "Don't be evil.", has produced an internal document that endorses political censorship to influence elections and more. The argument is that free speech (an "American tradition") is not viable on the internet due to various factors such as the 2016 election of President Donald J. Trump.
The document admits that big tech companies "control the majority of online conversations" and have made a "shift towards censorship" over the popularity of political choices that they are unwilling to accept. This directly contradicts the repeated assertions that the political bias of big tech company executives doesn't end up affecting the products.
Fortunately for free speech, that document has leaked and now you can see the thinking of those who deem themselves your masters.
According to the briefing itself, it was the product of an extensive process involving "several layers of research," including expert interviews with MIT Tech Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin, Atlantic staff writer Franklin Foer, and academic Kalev Leetaru. 35 cultural observers and 7 cultural leaders from seven countries on five continents were also consulted to produce it.
The Breitbart report is divided into several parts:
The Good Censor [alt link (Dropbox download)]
The "leaked" presentation was quickly framed by some as a roadmap to censorship and that it demonstrated the company was examining how to suppress certain viewpoints or crack down on internet freedoms. Yet, a closer read of the presentation would suggest precisely the opposite: a company at the center of many of our debates about the future of the online world grappling with the existential question of the modern web: how to absolutely preserve freedom of speech, while at the same time preventing terrorists, criminals, repressive governments and trolls from turning this incredible force for good into a toxic and dangerous place that undermines democracy, advances terrorism, assists fraudsters and empowers hatred? How do we elevate the voices of the disenfranchised and give them a place at the table of global discourse, while not also awakening the trolls that seek to repress them? How do we empower the free expression of ideas and bring an incredibly diverse and divided world together, while embracing the differences that make us who we are? How do we reach across countries and cultures, across languages and landscapes, to have meaningful conversations about the future of our shared planet? Most importantly, how can technology play a positive role in helping facilitate the good, empowering civil discourse, while discouraging the bad, from terrorist recruiting to fraud to toxic speech and trolling?
[...] Reading the final report today for the first time alongside the rest of the web, my own take on it is very different than the framing that seems to have emerged in certain quarters. I see not a company charting a future of web censorship, but rather a company in its 20th year reaching out to experts across the world trying to make sense of what the web has become and what its own place should be in that future. To me it is extraordinary to see Silicon Valley actually listening, absorbing and reflecting on what the world is saying about the state of the web. This is the Valley as it should be – listening to its users and understanding the web from their vantage, rather than dictating its own vision for the future of our online world.
Stepping back and looking at the themes of the Google presentation, what one sees is essentially a summary of the state of the web today and the pragmatic reality that in the anarchy of the anything-goes free-for-all of the early web, the darkness began to eclipse the light.
Also at The Verge, Digital Journal, The Hill, Dexerto.
(Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14 2018, @08:16AM
It's about the same as a Muslim web site censoring posts by Jews, or a Cherokee web site censoring posts by blacks. You might find these things to be OK or not, but the significance is low due to a lack of market control.
The rules are different when you control the market.
Given the above hypothetical Muslim and Cherokee web sites, it is OK for all the internet giants to conspire against them? Would it be OK to have a coordinated campaign that yanks their DNS, their Twitter account, their facebook account, their payment processor, their Visa/Mastercard/whatever merchant accounts, their ability to place things in the Apple app store, and more?