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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 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. [] [] 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.
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