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posted by chromas on Sunday October 14 2018, @05:20AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-be-████ dept.

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)]

Forbes disagrees:

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.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

 
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  • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Sunday October 14 2018, @04:58PM (8 children)

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Sunday October 14 2018, @04:58PM (#748659) Journal

    Well, I suppose even a stopped clock is right a couple times a day. They're right for the wrong reasons (i.e., the ONLY care about this NOW and ONLY because they want more exposure) but they are still correct. We're heading into one of those cyberpunk dystopias we all cut our literary teeth on reading, except without any actual way to fight back. As Mussolini said, fascism is the merger of state and corporate power.

    --
    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
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  • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14 2018, @07:51PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14 2018, @07:51PM (#748694)

    We're heading into one of those cyberpunk dystopias we all cut our literary teeth on reading, except without any actual way to fight back.

    What you can do is tell everyone you know of to vote for the Trump / Brexit / AfD types that the media calls "nazis" when they have photo-ops with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and then agitate for the enforcement of anti-trust law. And share [voat.co] history [hirhome.com] when you find it.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14 2018, @08:21PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14 2018, @08:21PM (#748699)

    What if they are more right than you think? They do make good points. Google and Facebook are straight up conducting censorship for views they do not like. I just personally do not like their editorial style.

    We are being wholesale manipulated. We have been for years. The people conducting it have been studying it for years. http://www.americantable.org/2012/07/how-bacon-and-eggs-became-the-american-breakfast/ [americantable.org] If they can do that with something as simple as bacon what else can they achieve? Perhaps things like 'brietbart is bad'? I realized it in 1999. The realization was that most of what we consider news is little more than thinly veiled advertisements. Companies can send in whatever they want. News orginzations will pick it up wholesale and run with it. Once you realize that the 'news' is a rather low bar you realize you can say whatever. It will get echoed around as fact. Self referencing itself.

    News is basically re-read items from about 5 different companies. They might put a small about spin on it. But that is about it.
    Think I am 'full of it'? Here is a fun example of it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM8L7bdwVaA [youtube.com]

    They can literally pick 'winners and losers'. Censorship is dead easy once you control that small handful of orgs.

    the ONLY care about this NOW and ONLY because they want more exposure
    You are trying to read their minds. This is your brain trying to put straight that brietbart is bad. Your brain is trying to protect you and make things 'right again'. It is OK. Once you let go of what you have been trained to look at you will see the base manipulation. It is quite breathtaking in its scale and cost. It is quite the sight to behold.

    Google and Facebook were the 'cool kids' fighting the establishment. They were going to make the world a better place. Instead now that they are in charge they have decided against that. They want to make sure they cement their power structure in. But you do not have to take my word for it. Look at who they are donating to around the world for 'campaign contributions'. Look who is ghost writing the bills. It sure is not 'we the people'.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHhrZgojY1Q [youtube.com]
    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Sunday October 14 2018, @08:39PM (1 child)

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Sunday October 14 2018, @08:39PM (#748707) Journal

      Brietbart *is* bad, they're just a different kind of bad than Facebook and Google. Where's "Option 3, to the abyss with all of them" in your list? You underestimate me severely; it is entirely possible not to trust anyone on the right and also not to be an easily-manipulated, useful idiot for the neolib raiders who have hollowed out what remains of the left wing in this country for their own greedy ends. There is a reason i have not owned a TV in nearly a decade and a half (and even then I only used it to run my SNES).

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
      • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by jmorris on Sunday October 14 2018, @10:53PM

        by jmorris (4844) on Sunday October 14 2018, @10:53PM (#748745)

        You mistake is assuming the sort of unbiased media you crave has ever existed or ever will. It is only by allowing everybody to speak freely that we have any chance of getting to the Truth. Even when towns had two newspapers, one rabidly Republican and the other equally Democrat you could subscribe to both and at least have a chance of figuring out where the Truth was between those extremes. Now there is only one and they are leading the bad rush of the Left off the cliff into madness.

        There was only one brief moment where unbiased journalism almost existed, when the early wire services cost so much that carrying a left and right biased version of every event was too expensive so they only sent one to all papers, but even then they could be tweaked locally before publication.

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday October 15 2018, @01:49AM

      by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 15 2018, @01:49AM (#748780) Journal

      We are being wholesale manipulated. We have been for years. The people conducting it have been studying it for years. http://www.americantable.org/2012/07/how-bacon-and-eggs-became-the-american-breakfast/ [americantable.org] [americantable.org] If they can do that with something as simple as bacon what else can they achieve? Perhaps things like 'brietbart is bad'? I realized it in 1999. The realization was that most of what we consider news is little more than thinly veiled advertisements. Companies can send in whatever they want. News orginzations will pick it up wholesale and run with it. Once you realize that the 'news' is a rather low bar you realize you can say whatever. It will get echoed around as fact. Self referencing itself.

      This is so.

      Early in my career in technology I worked as a contractor for Crain's. They publish a number of specialty business papers like Advertising Age, Crain's Chicago Business, Crain's New York Business, Pensions & Investments, and others. I developed systems for them to statistically identify and analyze trends, so I had direct access to their feeds and the information their reporters used on a daily basis. The emails and faxes they got every day was an unbroken stream of press releases from companies that had been written in the form of articles.

      You would not believe how often the reporters would make very minor changes to those press releases and pass them off as their own stories.

      I remember it clearly to this day because I was deeply shocked at how lazy it was. I was shocked by how dishonest it was. They didn't do anything like any version of self-laudatory depictions of journalism in any Hollywood production on film or on TV. There were no reporters investigating, or interviewing. If the reporters there ever picked up the phone at all it was to ask for spellings of people's names and that kind of thing.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Monday October 15 2018, @01:38AM (1 child)

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 15 2018, @01:38AM (#748779) Journal

    It is weird, but we're living in weird, weird times. When CNN started I watched the channel constantly. Now I can't bear to watch it for five seconds. I used to read the New York Times every day, then one day they decided to cheerlead the invasion of Iraq under the phony pretext of "Weapons of Mass Destruction." I was an NPR addict for 30 years, even having gone for 3 years in graduate school and afterward with no other form of mass media but that. Now I can't listen to them.

    Breitbart now is the least weird, least hysterical. Every other outlet has no intention every day but "GET TRUMP!!! OMG, OMG, OMG WE GOTTA GET TRUMP!!!"

    I suppose it should have been obvious that somebody was fucking with our time line when the National Enquirer started scooping the "real" media on stories, like when they took John Edwards down. It should have been obvious the MSM didn't care one whit about the journalistic mission when none of them went to bat for Wikileaks and Julian Assange. We should all now have no doubt where things stand that the New York Times refused to break the Weinstein story. We should none of us harbor any further illusions when NBC worked for years to cover up and excuse sexual harassment by Matt Lauer and others there.

    Honestly, the relativistic effects of the black hole we're all spiraling into are enough to make a person's head spin.

    Nevertheless, free speech is the right thing to stand for. It is an unalloyed good. The Founding Fathers didn't invent it out of thin air, but instead were channeling a thousand years of hard experience of not having it in Europe. It is a key plank of the Western Tradition and the Enlightenment. It ought to lead us to condemn what Google is doing, and what Facebook is doing, even though those have made protestations about being our friends, of doing it for our own good.

    I would go even further and say what they are doing, and what others mean to do with enforcing standards of conversation for reasons of decorum, is incredibly dangerous. Coarse speech and harsh words, raw emotion and combative tone, signal that deeper things are going wrong. It warns of us against approaching catastrophe that will occur if we don't fix those deeper things immediately. If we censor all that out for a tailored, Pollyanna illusion we are effectively removing the fire alarms in the house of the public discourse because they keep going off.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Monday October 15 2018, @03:17AM

      by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Monday October 15 2018, @03:17AM (#748802) Journal

      Agreed with all of that except the part about Breitbart being the least bad of the lot. Other than that you're spot on. I have not taken what any news outlet tells me at face value since 9/11, and was skeptical beforehand too. Money ruins everything, authoritarianism ruins everything, and it can be anyone doing it regardless of their stance on the economy.

      --
      I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15 2018, @10:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15 2018, @10:37AM (#748948)

    Well, I suppose even a stopped clock is right a couple times a day. They're right for the wrong reasons

    No they're not. Not even remotely.

    I once knew someone who wasn't a very nice or honest guy. He also happened to be Jewish, which in the context means nothing at all.