Meddling in journalism: Google funding media to fulfill Radical Liberal Agenda
The world’s most powerful company claims political bias plays no role in its day-to-day operations. Yet how do we explain its funding of left-leaning media amid elections and calls to regulate the Silicon Valley monolith? The world’s most powerful company claims political bias plays no role in its day-to-day operations. Yet how do we explain its funding of left-leaning media amid elections and calls to regulate the Silicon Valley monolith?
Google, headquartered in Mountain View, California, has announced recently it will be funding 34 media organizations in North America – 29 in the US, four in Canada, and one that has remained undisclosed. The project is being undertaken by the so-called Google News Initiative (GNI), a three-year, $300 million effort designed to “help journalism thrive in the digital age.” Too bad that so few people thought to ask, however, if it is really Google’s job to meddle in journalism.
The fact that Google is financing media organizations at all is in itself very problematic. After all, from the time of its founding, the search engine giant was expected to remain a neutral platform from which clients could freely access a variety of news and information; the more popular selections among users would automatically rise – in pure democratic fashion – to the top of the searches. However, in our post-Russiagate, fake news media hell-scape, Google has taken it upon itself to manually steer the algorithms, which in effect gives audiences a distorted perception of reality. Let’s call it the ‘Google reality’.
This leads to the critical question: Why does Google spend so much of its funds “supporting the future of journalism”? Does the generosity come without any strings attached, or does Google expect something in return for its money? Like any major corporation whose major concern is the bottom line and continual growth, it’s safe to say Google is looking for some quid pro quo. And that is exactly the conclusion that can be drawn judging by recent events, which include not only the most momentous and consequential presidential election in recent memory, but an American public that is growing wary of Google’s immense power and influence. Here’s where it gets interesting. As GTP pointed out in its report, Google tends to get very generous with handouts during those times when it is confronted with “legal and regulatory threats.”
READ MORE: ‘We are moving into a new, controlled society worse than old totalitarianism’ – Zizek on Google leak
Thus, it can’t just be written off as coincidence theory that Google is attempting to build a cozy, cash-cushioned relationship with various media organizations at a time when US politicians, like Elizabeth Warren, as well as numerous antitrust regulators, are speaking about smashing up the behemoth IT company into tiny bite-sized pieces. At the same time, Google senior executives have even been asked to testify before Congress on the question of their alleged political bias. Clearly, Google is feeling some heat. Whether all of this is just empty chatter for public consumption amid a contentious election cycle remains unclear, but Google doesn’t seem to be taking any chances.
This state of affairs presents a serious dilemma for the cash-strapped media industry where advertising dollars are shrinking and publications are going out of business. In this current period of uncertainty, the world of journalism is growing increasingly dependent for its revenue on Google, which wields, in addition to fantastic wealth, enough algorithmic firepower to determine if a media outlet should, quite literally, live or die. That is a frightening thing to consider. When a media organization is forced to operate under a virtual algorithmic Sword of Damocles, it will become much more cautious about biting the hand that feeds it.
Since its founding in 1998, Google was guided by the simple motto, ‘Don’t be evil’. That memo to itself carried the implicit understanding that the company, by virtue of it being the world’s clearinghouse of news and information, could wreak real havoc if it wanted to.
In recent months, a string of whistleblowers (here, here, and here) began to pull back the company’s heavy curtain, which revealed more than just a bunch of fun-loving computer nerds enjoying generous campus perks, like bean-bag chairs, free food and on-site fitness club. Insiders, like James Damore, a former Google engineer-turned whistleblower, described a radically different atmosphere behind the feel-good facade. Despite these PC-conscious and very woke times, Damore said that being a political conservative at Google in 2017 is like “being gay in the 1950s.”
If Google displays this sort of intolerance to its employees who espouse right-leaning views, then it is reasonable to ask if the company is monkeying with its algorithms to prevent conservative and alternative media from receiving fair representation in the competitive field of search results. Judging by damning documents released by whistleblowers, which include a blacklist top-heavy with conservative voices, the company is (allegedly) working overtime to manipulate the political landscape to its liking. In other words, to “prevent the next Trump situation,” as one senior Google executive candidly admitted to an undercover reporter from Project Veritas. Google denies that it plays political favorites, yet the record strongly suggests otherwise.
All things considered, Google is creating the conditions for a digitalized form of tyranny where they have become empowered, through their direct influence in newsrooms worldwide, to determine not only what political message the public hears above all others. It has purchased the power to ensure that the media never turns its investigative attention on Google’s global empire, which, for the time being, remains practically above the law. The world of media should have never allowed itself to get trapped in such a relationship.
Google’s ability to literally alter reality with the manipulation of its algorithms represents one of the deepest threats to democracy today, and must be challenged. Even by those media organizations that benefit from Google’s immense wealth.
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Also see—> https://www.rt.com/op-ed/466593-google-censorship-political-bias
Google is censoring political content? Gasp! Who knew? By:Danielle Ryan
Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ
The latest leaks about Google’s clandestine political censorship are fascinating — but they’re not going to knock anyone’s socks off for shock factor. Who, at this stage, does not know what Google is up to?
Former Google employee Zachary Vorhies told Project Veritas that he spent a year collecting documents that prove Google uses a politically biased “fringe ranking” system and maintains a “blacklist” of undesirable websites.
Surprise, surprise! Our Silicon Valley overlords have “deboosted and deranked” websites that fall foul of its own agenda.
Coverage of Vorhies’ leaks has been minimal, with the exception of right wing websites, many of which found themselves banished to the “blacklist.” Liberal media has mostly ignored the leaks. This is primarily because Project Veritas is led by arch-conservative James O’Keefe and they are naturally loathe to cover any information he brings to light, regardless of how legitimate it might be.
The group has uncovered some enlightening information in the past; most embarrassingly, it caught a CNN reporter admitting that the Russiagate story, which consumed American media for the better part of three years, was “mostly bullsh*t” but that it had been “incredible” for ratings.
The Daily Beast did cover the leaks — but with the sole purpose of questioning Vorhies’ credibility. The guy, it appears, is a pusher of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who has dabbled in Pizzagate and has written some anti-semitic tweets. Even O’Keefe acknowledged this, tweeting on Wednesday that “not every source is a perfect angel.”
If his information is accurate, Vorhies’ personal interests shouldn’t be relevant. Then again, when it was revealed that the DNC rigged the 2016 primary against Bernie Sanders, the only thing CNN and friends wanted to talk about was Russia.
There is a mythology that says Google, Facebook and Twitter are concerned only with censoring conservative views. O’Keefe even bemoans Google’s “scary, progressive social agenda.” There is some truth to that as far as social issues like abortion are concerned, but that’s where Google’s “progressive agenda” ends.
This idea stems partly from the fact that Google consistently ranks “left-leaning” sites like the New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN higher in terms of credibility than right-leanings websites. Some important context is needed here, though. The right-wing Breitbart considers CNN to be “far-left” — a classification the actual “far-left” would find hilarious, to say the very least.
We’ve known for years that Google actively de-ranks socialist websites and genuinely subversive left-leaning content — a category CNN and crew (which are as down-the-line centrist as it gets) do not come close to falling into.
Google is not a slave to “the left” — it’s simply a slave to the status quo and neoliberalism. So, don’t expect corporate media to start worrying about that any time soon.
Google is the best example of tech entrepreneurs becoming so rich and powerful that they no longer run a business but an experiment of world domination. Larry and Sergey can now pick our leaders to shape the world the way they want it to be. What happened to ‘don’t be evil’? by: Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) August 15, 2019
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.