I’m Virginia Dare and welcome to Radio VDARE.
What is democracy? I mean, really, how it is it supposed to work? Most people believe there are certain preconditions before you can have a functioning democracy. Generally, you need a pretty sizable middle class. There needs to be a widespread dispersion of property, relatively speaking. You probably want the voters to have at least some education. You need to be able to tolerate political opposition and allow for dissent. And voters need to be able to obtain information so they can make educated choices. After all, the people are supposed to be sovereign.
America is losing just about all these characteristics. The middle class is being squeezed, not least because of mass immigration. Mass immigration is also increasing income inequality. In theory, Americans have access to universal education. In practice, obtaining a quality education is becoming ever more difficult, a process that is also driven by mass immigration. Already, free speech is not allowed when it comes to certain opinions, especially support for immigration patriotism, and the government selectively prosecutes people based on their ideology.
Now, a new report shows Google is actually manipulating search results when it comes to political topics. Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears to have lied in sworn testimony before Congress only last month.
Yet an internal discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News reveals Google regularly intervenes in search results on its YouTube video platform – including a recent intervention that pushed pro-life videos out of the top ten search results for “abortion.”
The term “abortion” was added to a “blacklist” file for “controversial YouTube queries,” which contains a list of search terms that the company considers sensitive. According to the leak, these include some of these search terms related to: abortion, abortions, the Irish abortion referendum, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and anti-gun activist David Hogg.
The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News by a source inside the company who wishes to remain anonymous. A partial list of blacklisted terms was also leaked to Breitbart by another Google source…
The software engineer noted that the change had occurred following an inquiry from a left-wing Slate journalist about the prominence of pro-life videos on YouTube, and that pro-life videos were replaced with pro-abortion videos in the top ten results for the search terms following Google’s manual intervention.
[‘The Smoking Gun’: Google manipulated YouTube Search results for abortion, Maxine Waters, David Hogg, by Allum Bokhari, January 16, 2019]
Leave aside the question of whether Google’s CEO perjured himself before Congress. There’s a question of the public good here. Can democracy itself survive when a company that essentially operates as a monopoly, and which enjoys certain privileges from the government including protection from liability regarding censorship, is manipulating the information people can get? After all, our country is currently in the middle of a huge investigation supposedly based on whether Russia swung the last presidential election based on some poorly made memes and Facebook ads. What Google is doing is “election meddling” on a far greater scale. Rather than protecting us, journalists are encouraging this kind of abuse.
What’s more, so many websites and creators depend on Google’s search algorithm for their livelihood. Google now has the power to reward the people it likes and punish the people it does not. It can do the same with politicians. The possibility for abuse is far greater than anything the country had to deal with in the days of Standard Oil.
The incoming Attorney General, William Barr, suggested that antitrust investigations could be forthcoming.
Broadcasting and Cable reported:
"I don't think big is necessarily bad," he said, "but I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers."
Many in Congress on both sides of the aisle have been wondering that too, which is why the CEOs of Facebook and Google have testified on issues ranging from privacy to cybersecurity to election meddling and content control.
Barr conceded Silicon Valley giants could have won their market share without violating the antitrust law, but added: "I want to find out more about that dynamic."
Congress has previously been primarily focused on the power of internet service providers as the gatekeeper between garage-innovating edge providers and their subs, but that view is changing with the size of FAANG--Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google--together dwarfing ISPs and the GNP of whole nations--and revelations about inappropriate data sharing, misuse of their platforms by foreign powers, allegations of content censorship--or lack of content oversight in other cases--and much more.
[Barr signals Silicon Valley Giants Deserve Scrutiny, by John Eggerton, January 15, 2019]
Ultimately, whether America can really be called a democracy depends upon people being able to communicate freely. We can’t really do that right now. Deplatforming is one of the most important issues in politics. Certainly, Donald Trump doesn’t have a prayer in 2020 if his own supporters aren’t allowed to discuss politics on the dominant social media networks. Let’s hope Google is held to account for what it has done. And let’s hope freedom of speech is restored—and America remains a free country.
I’m Virginia Dare and we’ll talk again soon.