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posted by takyon on Monday October 15 2018, @09:25AM   Printer-friendly

Republican Senators Demand Answers about Google+ Cover-up

Senators Thune, Wicker, and Moran Letter to Google

takyon: Three Senators have written a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai requesting responses to several questions about the recent Google+ breach.

Also at Reuters, Ars Technica, and The Verge.

How Google's China Project Undermines its Claims to Political Neutrality

Submitted via IRC for chromas

How Google's China project undermines its claims to political neutrality

The company's official position on content moderation remains political neutrality, a spokeswoman told me in an email:

Google is committed to free expression — supporting the free flow of ideas is core to our mission. Where we have developed our own content policies, we enforce them in a politically neutral way. Giving preference to content of one political ideology over another would fundamentally conflict with our goal of providing services that work for everyone.

Of course, it's impossible to read the report or Google's statement without considering Project Dragonfly. According to Ryan Gallagher's ongoing reporting at The Intercept, Google's planned Chinese search engine will enable anything but the free flow of ideas. Even in an environment where American users are calling for tech platforms to limit users' freedoms in exchange for more safety and security, many still recoil at the idea of a search engine that bans search terms in support of an authoritarian regime.

And that's the unresolvable tension at the heart of this report. Almost all of us would agree that some restrictions on free speech are necessary. But few of us would agree on what those restrictions should be. Being a good censor — or at least, a more consistent censor — is within Google's grasp. But being a politically neutral one is probably impossible.

See also: Senator Says Google Failed to Answer Key Questions on China

Related: Leaked Transcript Contradicts Google's Denials About Censored Chinese Search Engine


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15 2018, @06:02PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15 2018, @06:02PM (#749162)

    "The company's official position on content moderation remains political neutrality" - that's been shown to lean left with search/recommended results as well as bans/de-monitization you youtube. (i.e. Google takes sides in a particular election. Negative search results are buried for the supported candidate, positives buried for the other.)

    Main subject of this article is Facebook's recent (10/11) "mass purge of left-wing political pages as part of an ongoing conspiracy by the state and the technology monopolies to censor the internet." However, there is information relevant to Google and their so-called "political neutrality." I'm assuming that by "left-wing" you mean the pro-capitalist Democratic Party and the various pseudo-left organizations in their orbit.

    Facebook’s purge of left-wing media: A frontal assault on freedom of speech [wsws.org]:

    Immediately following the 2016 US elections, in which public hostility to Hillary Clinton, the favored candidate of the US military/intelligence apparatus, was increased by WikiLeaks’ exposure of Clinton’s corrupt ties to Wall Street, the US media launched a campaign to smear oppositional viewpoints as Russian-inspired “fake news.” The New York Times and the Washington Post, political figures including Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, and the US intelligence apparatus fabricated a narrative of “Russian meddling” in order to pressure the technology monopolies to shut down and censor political opposition.

    The leading role in this campaign was played by Google, which announced in April 2017 that it would promote “authoritative” news sources over “alternative” viewpoints by manipulating search results.

    In August of 2017, the World Socialist Web Site reported that search traffic to 13 left-wing, socialist and anti-war sites plunged after Google implemented these changes to its search algorithm. A leading target was the World Socialist Web Site itself, which saw its Google search traffic fall by 75 percent following the announcement....

    There is no longer a question as to whether US technology companies are consciously engaged in political censorship. Their half-hearted denials have been exposed as lies [wsws.org] by an internal Google research document published last week. The documents states that the technology monopolies have moved away from “free speech and towards censorship,” rejecting the “American tradition that prioritizes free speech for democracy.”

    ...PropOrNot, a shadowy organization whose 2016 blacklist, published by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, helped launch the censorship campaign, hailed Facebook’s purge of accounts. In so doing, it made clear that this was only the beginning.

    PropOrNot pointed out that all of the organizations targeted by Facebook still “have websites,” and added, “but one thing at a time.” In other words, after removing targeted publications from search results and shutting down their social media accounts, the next step will be the forcible suppression of the websites themselves.

    That sounds like a cue for Google or even hosting companies and ISPs to do the needful. Point is that this is not merely some paranoid "alt-right" hallucination, and it is happening to all oppositional viewpoints.