Google

Google Employees Considered Adjusting Search Engine Algorithm to Hide Islamophobic Results

"Actively counter islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms 'Islam', 'Muslim', 'Iran', etc."

|

Google
IVAN ALVARADO/REUTERS/Newscom

In response to the Muslim travel ban announced by President Trump in January 2017, some Google employees discussed making changes to their search engine so that Islamophobic and anti-immigrant results would be less prominent.

That's according to emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal, which reports:

The list of ideas included:

"Actively counter islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms 'Islam', 'Muslim', 'Iran', etc."

"Actively counter prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms 'Mexico', 'Hispanic', 'Latino', etc."

"Can we launch an ephemeral experience that includes Highlights, up-to-date info from the US State Dept, DHS, links to donate to ACLU, etc?" the email added.

Several officials responded favorably to the overall idea. "We're absolutely in…Anything you need," one wrote.

But a public-affairs executive wrote: "Very much in favor of Google stepping up, but just have a few questions on this," including "how partisan we want to be on this."

Nothing came of these ideas, a Google spokesperson said.

Nevertheless, the existence of the emails has prompted furious denunciation from many conservatives who already believe giant tech corporations are working against them. Fox News' Tucker Carlson discussed the story on his program Thursday, "Here, Google employees are plotting to subvert our entire public conversation secretly." Canadian psychologist and Intellectual Dark Web superstar Jordan Peterson tweeted, "If this is true it is treasonous and should be treated as such."

Treason is an absurd allegation here, especially coming from someone like Peterson, who purports to defend free speech. Google is a private company, and its algorithm is not required by law to humor conservative talking points about immigration and Islam. Unfortunately, many on the right increasingly sound like they want the government to regulate tech companies, which is a serious betrayal of principle.

It's perfectly understandable to think Google ought not to stack its search results in a politically biased way. But pretending that these emails betray criminal intent or treasonous behavior is silly. Conservatives peddling this line sound just as unhinged as the #Resistance partisans who blindly insist that every Trump utterance is evidence of some grand conspiracy to hand the country over to Russia.

NEXT: Partisan Hackery, Supreme Court Confirmations, and the Decline of Public Trust

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It’s their company, but don’t bother claiming impartiality, hypocrites.

    1. No, it’s a private company so they should be regulated as a public utility.

      1. A private company that created a surveillance state for the Chinese.

      2. At the cost of giving up the right to a free press? No thanks.

      3. LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian|9.21.18 @ 2:01PM|#
        “No, it’s a private company so they should be regulated as a public utility.”
        Fuck off, commie-kid

      4. A private company that takes taxpayer money for US gov contracts and thereby agrees to not discriminate.

        1. A “private” company that Congress exempted from the usual legal liabilities of publishing

    2. They should be allowed to do it, but they should be forced to disclose it, too.

      1. Once again, a call for enforced speech. Better, they should be allowed to do it without restriction, but not to be so big they preclude thousands of others from getting into the market and doing it otherwise.

        1. You mean like campaign finance laws.

          And while you may (and that is debatable) be in favor of free speech, you sure don’t like free association.

        2. Stephen Lathrop|9.21.18 @ 10:50PM|#
          “Once again, a call for enforced speech. Better, they should be allowed to do it without restriction, but not to be so big they preclude thousands of others from getting into the market and doing it otherwise.”

          Once again, an amazingly stupid comment from our newest imbecile.
          Lemme guess: You’re all for ‘free speech’, “except…”
          Which means your not, in case that needs explanation.
          Fuck off, slaver.

  2. Unfortunately, many on the right increasingly sound like they want the government to regulate tech companies, which is a serious betrayal of principle.

    It’s the Trump era. Everyone is betraying their principles.

    It’s good to call Google out over this. It’s good to call everyone out on their below board shenanigans, even if some go overboard doing it. It keeps us honest.

    1. The first fiddling I remember which rang alarm bells was banning firearms from shopping results. Never mind that no one actually sold firearms directly through the mail like anything else; everyone was following FFL procedures. They were just being politically correct. I knew then it wouldn’t be long before they got worse.

      It’s such a simple principle: once you stray from the algorithmic non-partisan oath, you are off in the woods and your credibility will take years to recover, if ever.

      1. Leaving aside your underlying impulse to regulate private speech, you are also proposing an unobtainable, static, perpetual perfection in the design of search algorithms. You are barking up the wrong tree. The problem is an old fashioned one, which needs no miracle technology to manage. The problem is monopoly, and its resulting loss of diversity.

        1. The government shouldn’t intervene to stop them. But doing stuff like this without alerting anyone to the fact that you’re doing it is dishonest and people should call them on it.

          I don’t want it regulated, but I want them condemned.

          1. Nothing wrong with the condemnation bit. That’s your free speech. But try to note that you are throwing in your lot with many others here who aren’t so scrupulous. Supporting the notion of private publishing with private editing is a better route to supporting free speech generally.

        2. Stephen Lathrop|9.21.18 @ 10:55PM|#
          “…The problem is monopoly, and its resulting loss of diversity.”

          The problem is your stupidity; there is no monopoly.
          Fuck off, slaver.

  3. Actual stories and facts are not Islamaphobic, they’re ISLAM.

  4. Oh look, it’s conservatives once again pouncing on a complete non-story. They’ll just have to accept the fact that many multi-billionaires and multi-billion-dollar corporations are on the right side of history with respect to immigration, especially immigration from Muslim-majority countries.

    Plus, I learned in college that Islamophobia is a form of racism. So if Google ever implements this policy, they’ll be protecting black and brown bodies from the brutal oppression and violence they face every day in this country, especially with Drumpf’s presidency emboldening violent white nationalists.

    #AbolishICE
    #NoBanNoWall
    #OpenBorders
    #LibertariansAgainstIslamophobia

    1. Fuck off, you douche. Google is too important a media and should be regulated as a utility. Any private company that regulates the content of what is on its platform is a vital threat to the 1st Amendment and any officer of said company proposing such a recourse should be prosecuted for treason.

      1. No, grasshoppers, it is not.
        But you are not compelled to give them your businesses. Use another service.

      2. Dude. You were getting better and that was good, but you have been so completely overrun by this new Mark Question guy that I don’t even know how to break it to you that you just dropped from the 7/10 you had finally worked your way up to down to a 3 out of the new 10.

    2. At last.

      Google is an American company, which means their first loyalty, their first objective, should be what helps AMERICA. Libertarians whine about “private enterprise and profit”, but that’s just a cover for a shameful lack of morality.

      By morality I mean admitting you owe your existence, your soul, and your mind to the culture that spawned you and gave you the tools to make your business succeed.

      Google is part of a plot designed to erase American culture, because they hate prosperity. They hate that people can decide not to use their services, to disagree with them, or vote Republican. So they want to import millions of brown people over to vote Democrat. They get away with it because our classical liberal values makes this country too chickenshit to outlaw the Democratic Party, punish people for the thoughtcrime of hating America, the country that does so much for them every day (well the police and military do, anyway, but that’s the only part of the country that really matters when we talk about loving America), and institute the police state we need to create to protect freedom.

      This is the weakness of libertarians laid bare. You think people deserve freedom for existing. The only people who deserve freedom are white patriots. Brown people might earn a little bit if they can convincingly prove they believe white people should always call the shots (because the instant we lose are ability to do that, they’re going to put is in camps. I would if I were them).

      1. 10/10

        Bravo.

    3. Nice

    4. Too bad that you didn’t learn in college that Islamophobia can’t be a form of racism because Isam isn’t a race.

    5. The “right side of history” was a something the Nazi’s once believe too.

  5. DuckDuckGo is looking more attractive every day. At least it (probably) won’t deliberately lie to me to promote woke search results.

    1. I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for a while now on the opera browser. It gets the job done. I sometimes compare search results and they are usually similar.

      1. I use DuckDuckGo. Google is evil. Like most tech companies, instead of hiring workers directly, they hire contractors thru third parties so they don’t have to worry about offering benefits. Throw in H1B visas and the managers can make a lot of money, live in their left-wing echo chamber, and keep the pay and benefits down for everyone that works for them.

        1. Google keeps pay and benefits low? They’re one of the top paying companies in the valley. A friend of mine was hired for $400k annually with a $400k signing bonus.

          Sure, they also hire contractors. So what? Are we against the free market now? Oh sorry, I forgot we turned against the free market when the great mercantilist was elected.

          1. Strange, I don’t see him actually calling for any government intervention at all. In fact he is only advocating using a (sorta) competitor to Google. So apparently you’re against the free market now…

            1. Uh, check that whine about hiring contractors to avoid paying (mandated) “benefits”; smells of SEIU

        2. “Like most tech companies, instead of hiring workers directly, they hire contractors thru third parties so they don’t have to worry about offering benefits. Throw in H1B visas and the managers can make a lot of money, live in their left-wing echo chamber, and keep the pay and benefits down for everyone that works for them.”

          Slaver here thinks s/he has a better idea of how to run a company.
          I’m calling fucking ignoramus who is, at best. cluically-challenged.

        3. I updated my Mac to Sierra 12 and received a notice that Safari no longer supported DuckDuckGo. So, now I don’t use Safari for searches.

        4. MeToo …. but in a good way.

    2. I have been using DuckDuckGo for a couple years now. My only complaint is that the website is below the blurb and not above it. It is somewhat disorienting. Still hardly enough of a complaint for me to switch to bot-net Google.

  6. “The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever.”

  7. Google is a private company, and its algorithm is not required by law to humor conservative talking points about immigration and Islam.

    They’re a private company who’s been told to start abiding by certain diktats by powerful politicians or said politicians will “do it for them.”

    It’s perfectly understandable to think Google ought not to stack its search results in a politically biased way. But pretending that these emails betray criminal intent, or treasonous behavior, is silly.

    I agree. In a previous thread I read just the surface tweet provided in the article, and I understood it to mean they were trying to nudge election results. Having said that…

    Because we know that Gavin Belson and Hooli… erh, I mean Google shows interest in tweaking search results to push a narrative, there’s no reason this couldn’t spill over into violations of black letter law during an election season. Again, see “in kind contribution”.

    1. The notion of regulating press freedom as “in kind contribution,” is just as tiresome and unconstitutional in this context as it has been everywhere else it comes up.

      1. Nearly as tiresome as the notion that the “press” somehow has special speech privileges that the rest of us don’t (cf. Citizens United).

      2. Google isn’t the press, at least as far as their search results are concerned. The press consists of people and organizations disseminating information presented as fact or sincere opinion; whereas Google takes no responsibility for the content of their search results. The closest analogy from the time of the First Amendment would be a clipping service, which absolutely was not considered to be “press”.

        If they are the press, wouldn’t that make them liable to be sued for returning libellous search results?

        1. Google doesn’t present alleged facts, or sincere opinions? Of course it does.

          Your comment seems to rely tacitly on a notion that a legacy publisher would not be responsible for defamatory facts it published if they were the remarks of a contributor, and not the publisher itself. That is mistaken.

          Of course Google is not liable for defamatory content from its contributors, because congress unwisely exempted online publishers from obligations which continue to be applied to customary publishers. But that congressional exemption can’t pass muster as a matter of fact, and thus transform one of the world’s largest publishers into a non-publisher. Google is a publisher because it does the things which define publishing. The congressional exemption was sought and passed precisely because that was so?for Google, and for many other online publishers. If everyone did not already understand that they were publishers, there would have been no need for Section 230, or their special exemption.

      3. Stephen Lathrop|9.21.18 @ 11:01PM|#
        “The notion of regulating press freedom as “in kind contribution,” is just as tiresome and unconstitutional in this context as it has been everywhere else it comes up”

        Bullshit.

  8. Do you think Google would do the same thing for searches that say “Christian” or “Jew” or “Israel”?

    Never mind, I think I already know the answer

  9. Treason is an absurd allegation here, especially coming from someone like Peterson, who purports to defend free speech.

    Treasonous seems a bit far but it screams antitrust. At the very least the FBI should investigate Google’s management for ties to Russia.

  10. You side with powerful people in the government, you are the government.

      1. I thought that was going to be a link to Google doing the bidding of the Chinese.

      2. The hypocritical part of his testimony is that his company harvests the personal information of the users of FB to increase add revenues.

  11. I recommend people begin using DuckDuckGo for web searches and Brave as their internet browser. They have the highest privacy settings in their industries and, as far as I know, are not manipulating search results or algorithms.

    Government regulation, like nearly all regulation, will make this problem much, much worse. Imagine in 2020 a President Warren and a Democratic Congress with the the power to regulate Google, Facebook, etc… That is terrifying.

    1. Imagine in 2020 a President Warren and a Democratic Congress with the the power to regulate Google, Facebook, etc… That is terrifying.

      It’s what they’re openly expressing and Zuckerberg (to name just one) is fully on board.

    2. as far as I know, are not manipulating search results or algorithms

      How exactly do you create a search algorithm without manipulating it?

      1. If you used it, you’d understand. It’s not as good at finding what you are looking for, because it doesn’t account for your search history, location, etc.

      2. I’m pretty sure he meant manipulating it in a consciously biased fashion. …. But you probably knew that and were just being pedantic.

    3. What about the other billion or so people in the world that you want to reach?

  12. “Google Employees Considered Adjusting Search Engine Algorithm to Hide Islamophobic Results”

    I call bullshit.

    Here’s what the WSJ has to say:

    “WASHINGTON?Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways they might be able to tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails.”

    The email traffic, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows that employees proposed ways to “leverage” search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.” and “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/go…..1537488472

    Some of you may recall that I’ve criticized Google in the past and that I’ve been working to rid myself of their products. My criticism of Google doesn’t need any . . . um . . . editorializing of the facts. Just the unvarnished truth will suffice.

    1. Question 1) Is what’s being described in the WSJ article “hiding Islamophobic results” precisely?

      I think that’s highly questionable. At worst, they seem to be talking about ranking things differently or including information about how to contact pro-immigration causes in various ways.

      Question 2) Was the travel ban necessarily Islamophobic?

      I believe the correct answer is no. The latest form of the travel ban, as I recall, neither gave extra support to non-Muslims nor did it specify anything about Islam at all. There were non-Muslim countries on the list. There were Muslim countries not on the list. Meanwhile, didn’t the Supreme Court uphold the travel ban?

  13. “Google is a private company, and its algorithm is not required by law to humor conservative talking points about immigration and Islam.”

    Are they showing the same lack of principles as a magazine who bills itself as being in favor of “free minds” carrying water for a company that created a surveillance state for the Chinese or is that different?

    1. So the China thing is now a magic wand we can use to dismiss the fact that we’re arguing against the free market?

      News flash – China is already a police state and lots of companies helped them get there. Making money off that fact is amoral. Next thing you’re going to say is that gun manufacturers are responsible for Columbine.

      For fuck’s sake, it is downright sad to see how the comment section here has lost its collective mind since Trump was elected. I thought we were libertarians?

      1. Please, Robby isn’t interested in the free market or free speech. In fact he outright called for twitter to punish Rubio for posting the public address and phone number of a business. But that’s different, because reasons. Robby loves him some censorship as long as the right people are getting shut up. And on that particular point, the Chinese angle is extremely relevant.

      2. There will not be a free market in any case. Whether Google gets away with this or not. So neither side can be said to “argue against a free market”.

        The market is already fucked up and unfree. Forcing Google to choose between splitting up or behaving in a viewpoint-neutral way does not change that.

        In any case, Google’s work on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party is good evidence that they are evil. Not a magic wand at all.

        1. “The market is already fucked up and unfree. Forcing Google to choose between splitting up or behaving in a viewpoint-neutral way does not change that.”

          Fail.
          Any increase in coercion DOES change that, regardless of your fave winner.

          1. No, it doesn’t. The market will not be free regardless.

            1. Anti-Fasciitis|9.22.18 @ 12:53AM|#
              “No, it doesn’t. The market will not be free regardless.”

              Yes, it does. ANY increase in coercion reduces the freedom of the market.
              Stupidity or sarc?

  14. “Algorithmically biased” == not the results our political biases demand.

  15. Switch to another browser and stop fucking whining.
    Switch from Gmail to another mail server and stop fucking whining.

    1. And your phone. Maybe your internet service as well. Also, the school district’s stuff is all done through gmail and g-suite so I’ll have to petition them to let my kids use a different service… Once all that’s done, where to go? Apple? Amazon?

      I don’t disagree that ‘just switch’ is the right answer but ‘just switch and quit whining’ ignores the fact that in some places the choice has been forced and switching isn’t an option and, even if it were, the alternatives are just as bad.

      1. The phone market is especially bad. Your options are Apple and Google, basically.

    2. None of those solve the problem of how someone can spread a message that Google doesn’t like. They would need the entire world to switch their browser, email, etc.

      Herein lies the difference between the Internet monopoly and the real-life monopolies. The former tend naturally to consolidation, while the latter usually require government intervention to survive.

      1. Anti-Fasciitis|9.21.18 @ 11:44PM|#
        “None of those bullshit, bullshit, bullshit”
        Fuck off, slaver.

  16. “Google employees considered adjusting algorithms to hide Robbie Suave” …Intersting idea.

  17. You probably don’t want to regulate the internet.

    Unregulated it is like the Wild West and corruption is uncontrolled.

    You don’t know what you don’t have access to knowing.

    Samuel Landman was the Solicitor for the British Zionist organization when Britain crafted the Balfour Declaration, the official promise of Palestine to Jews in 1917.

    When Britain was dragging its feet in 1936, Landman published a paper clearly reminding everyone that Britain promised Palestine to Zionists in 1917 if they would succeed in bringing the US into WW1, after electing Wilson on an anti war platform.

    That is a significant global event. It extended WW1 by two years, inspired the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, is the cause of the last 70 years of the Middle East conflict, cost millions of lives and far more in destruction.

    Funny thing, Samuel Landman can’t be found in Wikipedia.

  • “Treason is an absurd allegation here, especially coming from someone like Peterson, who purports to defend free speech.”

    Dude, your idiot co-workers call him “alt-right” without a shred of evidence and they purport to have brains. And you ding him for attacking a company that tries to silence him?

    1. He was hidden in searches on Youtube for a while and threatened with being kicked off. “Treason” is a bit much, but he has good reason to be wary of Google.
      People trying to paint Peterson as any kind of political thing are barking up the wrong tree and don’t get him. His popularity has very little to do with politics.

      1. He was hidden in searches on Youtube for a while and threatened with being kicked off. “Treason” is a bit much, but he has good reason to be wary of Google.

        You know, I wondered if he doesn’t have a reason for using the word and this kinda explains it to me a bit. If you were a public educator ousted and hounded for hate speech (in a foreign country no less) and the same organization was trying to undermine free speech in the home of free speech… treasonous makes a bit of sense. It would totally come off as excessive or detached in other contexts but specifically undermining the core values of free speech is kinda treasonous.

        Not to conditionalize his statements too much. It does seem excessive. He just normally seems like a guy who doesn’t use a word like treason unintentionally.

  • Funny, clicking on the “reply to this” link above directs you to the link that should have shown up in the text.

    1. Rob, fuck you and your slimy links.

  • This just in: Google directs all Robby Soave traffic to fake websites about how much he likes child porn.

    Robby- “It’s a private company!”

    This just in: Google agrees to censor all elected officials right of Bernie

    Robby- “It’s a private company!”

    This just in: Google agrees to direct FBI towards anyone who expressed hate speech

    Robby- “It’s a private company!”

    1. It often seems to outsiders that libertarians are defending companies and people that we don’t like, but that isn’t what’s really happening. We’re just defending principles we like.

      I’d love to think Robby was so libertarian that he would stand by principle even if doing so negatively impacted him personally. You’ll find a number of libertarians around here who don’t see Robby as being particularly principled on libertarian issues.

      Also, some of the things your examples aren’t especially evocative of libertarian ideas.

      If someone purposely makes others incorrectly believe that so and so is into child porn, that’s not something I think the First Amendment protects. The First Amendment doesn’t protect the right to violate other people’s rights with your speech any more than the Second Amendment protects your right to violate other people’s rights with a gun.

      The FBI has no business policing speech online–according to any libertarian I know. And if you’re looking for better examples of times that libertarians should, in fact, oppose free speech, I think you’re going to have a hard time.

      Perjury, fraud, violent threats to shoot a cashier if she doesn’t empty the register, . . . these are all examples of people using speech to violate someone’s rights–and I don’t think you’ll find any libertarians who think they’re protected by the First Amendment.

    2. Robby is an unshakable proponent of property rights. Except when he isn’t.

      https://tinyurl.com/ycr6ng5z

      1. It’s hilarious if anybody thinks Robby is somehow a staunch libertarian.

        That’s either somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about–either about Robby or libertarianism, one or both–or someone who’s so pathetic, they’d make their username a reference to the holocaust.

  • Google is a private company, and its algorithm is not required by law to humor conservative talking points about immigration and Islam.

    Google is a private company in the business of selling my eyeballs. If their product purports to provide unbiased search results sorted by the best match and they deliberately manipulate the information at the very least they have committed fraud.

    1. Exactly!!! The problem isn’t the bias in the way the show results. The problem is when they lie to users about their product for the purpose of gaining users. It is a fraud and THAT is the problem.

      You want left-only browser? No problem as long as it is provided by the free market and labeled as such. But if either of those two conditions are not met, a libertarian would he right to complain.

      1. Nah. A libertarian would be right to spot a business opportunity, and open a competitor. Unless monopolistic factors in the market made that impossible. In which case a libertarian would be right to demand government intervention to end the monopoly.

        1. Stephen Lathrop|9.21.18 @ 11:10PM|#
          “Nah. A libertarian would be right to spot a business opportunity, and open a competitor. Unless monopolistic factors in the market made that impossible. In which case a libertarian would be right to demand government intervention to end the monopoly.”

          Nah, a lefty fucking ignoramus would make up a hypothetical to support an imbecilic claim!
          Thank you, fucking lefty ignoramus for doing so.
          And fuck off.

        2. Stephen Lathrop|9.21.18 @ 11:10PM|#
          “Nah. A libertarian …”
          Kinda have to ask: We’re you born this way, or did you have to train for many years to get this stupid?

    2. There has to be an exchange of value for it to be fraud. Talk of “selling eyeballs” is metaphor, not a real exchange of value.

  • Peterson went way overboard with the ‘treason’ business, but secretly biasing search results that are assumed by the public to be unbiased can hardly be called ‘free speech.’ The fact that this didn’t actually get put into action is a plus for Google. The fact that employees thought it was a cool idea is not a plus for Google.

  • Peterson really went full retard with that tweet

  • Manipulated search results, shadowbans, and other such ‘adjustments’ are presenting users with an artificially altered product and not what they wanted or were told they were going to receive. It is deceptive and fraudulent. Such conduct is condemned and in many cases prohibited in the non-cyber marketplace…by libertarians most of all. Deceptive and fraudulent conduct is a primary reason that markets fail, and information markets are no exception.

    This doesn’t even touch on the all encompassing ubiquity of Google and other such companies, nor the influence such companies can have on the political process.

    Libertarians rightly condemn the crony capitalism of corporatism, but is not corporations deceptively interfering in the political process for their own personal benefit and political goals worse?

    Would Google manipulating its search results to increase favor for say a war or slavery, or some other lesser atrocity such as asset forfeiture or increased police militarization be considered simply a private company exercising its rights?

    I’m not sure what the solution here is, but the current state of things is not at all conducive to maximizing freedom in the long term.

    and of course “treason” is an absurd application of the term here. Broken clock and all…

    1. Wait, when did Google promise to ensure its search results weren’t manipulated? I seem to remember several times when Google got into trouble for *not* manipulating its search results. Remember when you could type ‘why are black people so’ into the search bar and see all kinds of racist autocompletes? Google does not, AFAIK, return links to child porn, or at least tries to avoid doing so. Hell, Google is even kind enough to plaster their logo on the search page to remind you that they are, in fact, a private company.

      1. They constantly promote the fact that they are working to generate better, more accurate results for peoples’ searches. The implied element of that is that they are showing you the part of the internet, as best as they can, that YOU are looking for… not that they will show you what THEY simply choose to show you.

      2. jasno|9.21.18 @ 5:58PM|#
        “Wait, when did Google promise to ensure its search results weren’t manipulated?”

        OK, you got the “+” above, but not here.
        Google consistently pitches their service as ‘neutral’. As mentioned in the first post, they are welcome to come out fully behind Fauxcahantus if they wish, but knock off the hypocritical claim of ‘neutrality’.
        Google is the CNN of search engines; I refuse to use it.

      3. When did the phone company promise not to record my conversations and share them with my employer, family member, government, etc?

        When did the used car dealer promise that the car they sold me had working brakes?

        When did the sugar company promise that they weren’t mixing sawdust into their sugar?

        When did I promise the restaurant that I would pay for the lobster tails that I ordered and ate?

        When did I promise to pay the barber for this haircut he just gave me?

        It’s all based on EXPECTATION. Google has always presented itself as a search engine, not a curator. If they want to put a notice on their front page that they censor viewpoints they don’t like, have at it. If not, why not?

      4. Google does not, AFAIK, return links to child porn, or at least tries to avoid doing so.

        Terrible analogy. That is illegal content, so that would simply be to protect themselves and their users from unintentionally breaking the law. (I have no idea if they do censor such content)

    2. I’m not sure what the solution here is, but the current state of things is not at all conducive to maximizing freedom in the long term.

      Google became so dominant largely based on government regulations. First, the government created the Internet and established it as a single platform, and then they benefited from first implicit and later explicit net neutrality.

      The free market is going to destroy Google sooner or later if given a chance. The defeat of net neutrality is a good start. But we need to look carefully at other government policies that keep the Internet enshrined as a single, global entity.

  • Somehow, this bit of Google bumbling takes private editing?an honorable and useful practice, one which should be completely inoffensive to everyone?and transforms it into something monstrous. But nothing came of it, so no harm no foul.

    Meanwhile, Google ought to get busy and do whatever it can to put private editing to work, for whatever purposes it prefers. All publishers owe their readers the benefits of editorial judgement, used to increase the quality of their offerings, and doing that according to the publisher’s own lights.

    And policy makers ought to get busy, too?to cut down to size all the internet monopolies now positioned to become predominant arbiters of national dialogue on public affairs. There is no substitute for diverse media, and diverse points of view, thwarting by their multiplicity all efforts at unified control.

    1. Stephen Lathrop|9.21.18 @ 10:46PM|#
      “Somehow, this bit of Google bumbling takes private editing?an honorable and useful practice, one which should be completely inoffensive to everyone?and transforms it into something monstrous. But nothing came of it, so no harm no foul.”
      Doesn’t that amount of spinning make you dizzy?

      “Meanwhile, Google ought to get busy and do whatever it can to put private editing to work, for whatever purposes it prefers. All publishers owe their readers the benefits of editorial judgement, used to increase the quality of their offerings, and doing that according to the publisher’s own lights.”
      Uh, yeah, kind of……..
      Bloviating R-US, right?

      “And policy makers ought to get busy, too?to cut down to size all the internet monopolies…”
      There are no “internet monopolies”, you fucking ignoramus.

  • Google is a private company, and its algorithm is not required by law to humor conservative talking points about immigration and Islam.

    1. Nobody is asking that Google “humor” any viewpoint, just determine search results in a viewpoint-neutral fashion.
    2. Just because an act is not illegal doesn’t make it right, and certainly doesn’t justify dismissing criticism of the act.
    3. Leftists adopting the mantra of “it’s a private business, they can do whatever they want” is beyond hypocritical.

    1. “1. Nobody is asking that Google “humor” any viewpoint, just determine search results in a viewpoint-neutral fashion.”
      If you are asking that, you’re an idiot.

      “2. Just because an act is not illegal doesn’t make it right, and certainly doesn’t justify dismissing criticism of the act.”
      Criticize all you please.

      “3. Leftists adopting the mantra of “it’s a private business, they can do whatever they want” is beyond hypocritical.”
      True.

      1. Who gives a shit what you want from google. They owe you nothing. They only have to answer to their shareholders, not their customers. This perverse notion that has arisen lately, of believing that consumers have some sort of claim on a business, I find baffling. Unless you own stock, you have no say. Period. It is a bit absurd that on a “libertarian” website, this even needs to be discussed. If you want a “neutral” search site, feel free to start your own. If your answer is “i can’t because of government”, then your issue is with cronyism, not biased speech. Don’t call for restriction on the latter because you oppose the former. Restricting a right to try compensating for the restriction of other rights does not help anything.
        And I have a very hard time buying the “this is fraud” argument. As a libertarian I am primarily a fan of caveat emptor for the most part. However, even if one fully believes fraud has occurred, then it should be handled through the courts, after the fact. Show that harm has been done to you and sue for damages. But calling for the government to have even more power to “preempt” fraud is simply a rehashed statist argument. I may not like the prospect of google manipulating what I see, but I am free to use a competitor, and asking for governnment to play the role of arbiter goes against everything libertarians should stand for.

  • How times have changed.

    In September 2011 Santorum asked Google to intervene by altering the indexing of the content, saying, “If you’re a responsible business, you don’t let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country…To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle but I suspect that’s not true.” In response to Santorum’s request, a Google spokesperson asserted that Google does not “remove content from our search results, except in very limited cases such as illegal content and violations of our webmaster guidelines.”

  • Actually, the best and most libertarian-doctrine-friendly solution to my mind is to remove Google’s safe harbor protections if they pick and choose search results based on ideological content. Thus if they choose to be “a private company that can do whatever it wants”, they would become legally liable for returning links to defamatory, illegal, or copyright-infringing content, just like any other “private company that can do whatever it wants”. I’m sure there are a few lawyers out there willing to sue Google on contingency. Your right to be “a private company that can do whatever it wants” ends at my nose.

    1. So you are really trying to come up with some lame excuse to use the government to support your views under the bullshit claim of ‘libertarian’
      What a pathetic excuse for a sentient being.
      Fuck off, slaver.

      1. Nah, just equal treatment under the law

        1. mlwjr|9.22.18 @ 6:22AM|#
          “Nah, just equal treatment under the law”

          You probably ought to learn what words mean before you type them. Makes you look less idiotic.

  • This demonstrates the confusion and corruption resulting from an unregulated public broadcasting space in a complex society.

    It also exposes a basic logical flaw in libertarian ideology, “do anything you want except initiating coercion” then fill your boots with laws.

    Coercion: the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance.

    Do you think censorship is intimidating. Sure it is, because when free speech opposes the censorship, the only next step of the censor is intimidation, coercion.

    Doing whatever you want, is often intimidating whether intentional or not.

    Look at the dipshit saying used here, “fuck off slaver”. If it wasn’t so hilariously ironic, it might be intimidating.

  • First off, the use of the word “Islamophobic” should be wiped out of common usage just like “homophobic.” Providing facts or opinions that present a negative view of the religion or practitioners does not rise to the level of “phobia.” It is obvious that the people using these terms seek to and functionally do shut out facts and opinions not supportive of the religion and sexuality or individuals who identify thusly. What we are talking about is Google talking about and possibly implementing adjustments to try silencing facts and opinions that run against their own biased political allegiances. There is nothing here to suggest that Google hasn’t gone ahead and tweaked their algorithm to bias search results in favor of their leftist politics. In fact, my experience and other anecdotes would suggest that any right leaning search results are pushed far down the list regardless of how much better they might fit the search criteria. I frequently search for specific articles questioning a left wing narrative and yet the top results provide the exact opposite narrative of what I searched for. Google IS biasing their search results based on their politics. That they claim to have discussed and scrapped incredibly heavy-handed adjustments in this instance doesn’t mean they don’t do it and that they haven’t otherwise tweaked the algorithm in a similar fashion anyway.

  • Looks like we have moved from the “you’re an idiot to think this is technically possible” to the “no way the good folks at Google would do such a thing” stage. We’ll be getting to the “well, of course, we adjust search results but in a completely unbiased way and just to help the truth” way.

    (People do realize that Google employees massively supported Hillary, right?)

  • It’s perfectly understandable to think Google ought not to stack its search results in a politically biased way. But pretending that these emails betray criminal intent or treasonous behavior is silly.

    Criminal or treasonous? No. But not without legal consequences. Google claims safe harbor from various legal liabilities because they say they don’t control the content (and they used to say they couldn’t control the content). The rationale for this exemption used to be that a carrier simply didn’t have any business inspecting what it published and that it was impractical to take responsibility.

    But Google clearly has shown that they do inspect everything they publish, that it is not at all impractical for them to exercise control, and that they already do. Hence, they should be held legally liable when they publish something libelous, defamatory, etc.

    1. Is it a libertarian tenet to blame others for what you say on the internet?

  • “anti-immigrant results”

    Open Borders Uber Alles!

  • Anyone really surprised by this?

  • >Evil international espionage cartel surreptitiously conspires with government to limit the parameters of discussion socially permissible on its platform.

    Robby – “No First Amendmemt issue here, guys. Move along.”

  • Please to post comments

    Comments are closed.