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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, Flamebait) by jmorris on Sunday October 14 2018, @11:44PM (2 children)

    by jmorris (4844) on Sunday October 14 2018, @11:44PM (#748755)

    Seems everybody wants to argue about whether Breitbart is so guilty of wrongthink that actual document they released should be ignored. Typical.

    The document itself, which nobody is disputing the authenticity of, is all that should be the topic of discussion. But of course that would not go well for the Prog team so distract, obfuscate, and lie is the only defense and that we see here in spades.

    The bottom line is Google is an avowedly unAmerican corporation and it really isn't possible to argue another viewpoint on that statement without arguing in bad faith. If they want to be a European Corporation and uphold European values that is their right I suppose, but we should all be aware of what they are and begin taking appropriate steps. Or they can be a Chi-Com front and we should all take appropriate steps. What they should not be allowed to do is be those things and still be treated as an American company.

    We should be treating them as a hostile foreign entity caught meddling extensively in our internal affairs. If Putin buying a few thousands of dollars in Facebook ads was enough to trigger several years of investigations, what of Google?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15 2018, @10:39AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15 2018, @10:39AM (#748950)

    Replace 'Breitbart' with 'Stormfront' and there'd be no argument, would there.

    • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Monday October 15 2018, @04:36PM

      by jmorris (4844) on Monday October 15 2018, @04:36PM (#749119)

      It should not matter, especially in this case where it is a dump of a document that nobody disputes the authenticity of. How many articles per month does Soylent put up for discussion from World Worker's Party and whatever other openly Communist organization? So no, attacks against the source are still bad form. I do it when a Commie source is cited that is mostly just a repackage of a MSM article, on the ground the Communist spin in that first layer ads nothing of value and should have been stripped for the link within to the original source. But in this case is the original source, they committed an act of actual journalism.

      So, for the same of argument, you are asserting that there should be no argument whether a story broke on stormfront was worthy of debate. So if they broke compelling evidence on the Russia! Russia! Russia! hoax you are assuring everyone that the New York Times wouldn't be picking up the story within hours? Seriously?

      And please note that yet again, the only reply is sticking to the deflection to the source gambit instead of the obviously damning facts about Google that people don't want to see because they would be forced to take a position.