Home > Analysis, Opinion, politics > Case Study on Freedom of Speech: Google Walking the Talk?

Case Study on Freedom of Speech: Google Walking the Talk?

Google censorshipI was going to write another case study on the intrinsic hypocrisy in the rhetoric of freedom – how “freedom” is uttered when useful, and completely ignored when not – using Google’s recent “firing” of an employee who had written a memo that some deemed not politically correct as a basis of discussion.

But then I found that Paul Craig Roberts already wrote a good post on it already.

Here is a copy:

Google Is Committed To The Suppression Of Free Speech

Google Is Committed To The Suppression Of Free Speech

Paul Craig Roberts

This is an update to my earlier posting this morning: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/08/08/facts-supplanted-propaganda-wherever-look/

The Google engineer, a Harvard Ph.D., who raised questions about the non-fact-based ideological culture within the Google organization has been identified and fired.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, said that the employee in expressing his views had violated Google’s code of conduct and had crossed “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” The employee, James Damore, confirms that he was fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” by expressing his views.

Having fired Damore or permitted Google’s Thought Control Czar, Danielle Brown, to fire Damore, Sundar Pichai delivered a caricature of hypocrisy. Sundar addressed Damore’s “co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace, especially those with a minority viewpoint. They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK. People must feel free to express dissent.”

In the face of firing Damore for expressing his opinion, Sundar affirmed: “we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves.” Sundar says that “many points raised in the memo — such as the portions criticizing Google’s trainings, questioning the role of ideology in the workplace, and debating whether programs for women and underserved groups are sufficiently open to all — are important topics. The author had a right to express their (sic) views on those topics — we encourage an environment in which people can do this and it remains our policy to not take action against anyone for prompting these discussions.” https://www.recode.net/2017/8/7/16110696/firing-google-ceo-employee-penned-controversial-memo-on-women-has-violated-its-code-of-conduct

However, Googlers must not question feminist ideology.

We should not be surprised that google is opposed to free expression. According to reports, Google works hand in hand with the NSA and CIA to expand unconstitutional spying on everyone everywhere and to suppress independent and dissenting thought and expression.

For example, on July 31, the World Socialist Web Site reported that “Between April and June, Google completed a major revision of its search engine that sharply curtails public access to Internet web sites that operate independently of the corporate and state-controlled media. Since the implementation of the changes, many left wing, anti-war and progressive web sites have experienced a sharp fall in traffic generated by Google searches. The World Socialist Web Site has seen, within just one month, a 70 percent drop in traffic from Google.” https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/07/31/goog-j31.html

Writing in Global Research, Graham Vanbergen lists 13 websites arbitrarily branded by Google as fake news or conspiracy sites whose readership Google has managed to reduce between 19 and 67 percent:

* wsws.org fell by 67 percent
* alternet.org fell by 63 percent
* globalresearch.ca fell by 62 percent
* consortiumnews.com fell by 47 percent
* socialistworker.org fell by 47 percent
* mediamatters.org fell by 42 percent
* commondreams.org fell by 37 percent
* internationalviewpoint.org fell by 36 percent
* democracynow.org fell by 36 percent
* wikileaks.org fell by 30 percent
* truth-out.org fell by 25 percent
* counterpunch.org fell by 21 percent
theintercept.com fell by 19 percent

It is completely obvious that none of these sites are fake news or conspiracy sites. These sites are under Google censorship because they question the official lies that are used to control the explanations given to the people. With the print and TV media and NPR under its control, the ruling oligarchy is now moving to shut down all Internet explanation that differs from the official lies that are used to keep people firmly locked in The Matrix.

Google is a monopoly. Before monopolists turned US anti-trust legislation such as the Sherman Act into dead-letter laws, Google would have been broken up. Today Google is protected not only by the demise of anti-trust laws, but also by its usefulness to the US Police State. Without Google’s active cooperation, it would not be possible for the NSA to complete its total spy network, a network that serves not national defense but suppression of dissent from the agendas of the ruling oligarchy.

Google abuses its power in many ways. For example, Wikileaks reports that among the Podesta email leaks, there is one from Google’s Eric Schmidt to Cheryl Mills offering Google’s ability to spy on Americans to help the Democrats win the presidential election. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-01/wikileaks-reveals-googles-strategic-plan-help-democrats-win-election

Apparently, Google has chosen to be a monster committed to upholding lies and ideologies in the place of truth. Unless another country with the courage to stand up to Washington creates a rival search engine, truth will disappear from the face of the earth.

Imagine if Google’s firing an employee over what he wrote had happened say in a Chinese Internet company such as Baidu and over say an internal employee memo about Liu Xiaobo, people in the West would be up in arms how this is censorship and nationalism in its worst form.  No weight will be given to any articulation that Liu Xiaobo’s views might be deemed “harmful” and “repugnant” to Chinese society.

But when a US company fires an employee who writes on a politically sensitive topic that is deemed to hurt society, the issue of “freedom” is not really raised.  And even if it were raised, it’d discussed in the context of a delicate balance between society’s noblest ideals – such as one between “equality” (in this case “gender equality”) and “freedom” … but with “freedom” deemed subservient…

Come to think of it … this is how it’s always done.  We can have a “free marketplace.”  But of course, government can insert all sorts of regulations from anti-trust to intellectual property to licensing regimes to labor laws to contract laws to rent control … you get the point … but none of these are ever deemed an abridgment on “freedom” because they are all deemed to promote some important social welfare.

I say trash all talks about “freedom” because in the end, “freedom” matters when the politics underneath justifies it, and matters not when it doesn’t.  Why not just talk politics instead of raising the rhetoric of freedom?

Moving from the story within Google to outside, we can now imagine how Google can censor all sort of things according to its own worldviews and preferences (or more importantly, those of the CIA and the U.S. oligarchy).  Consider how we now hear so much talks about “fake news” and how Google and Facebook and other U.S. Internet stalwarts must stand up to protect the Internet against the spread of wildfires of “lies”…

Of course this is not “censorship” per se.  It is about the betterment of Internet, about removing false information … which ultimately strengthens “democracy” and “empowers” the people.

Whatever “censorship” Google and Facebook and the U.S. does is not really a real abridgement of “freedom.”  What’s the value in yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, in demeaning women, in tearing apart the social fabric, in insulting people, in inciting violence, … in poisoning the democratic process with “lies” ….

Of course…. of course….

Censorship is often necessary and justified … depending on the historical and political conditions of the societies involved.  Isn’t that what the CCP has been saying for a while?

  1. N.M.Cheung
    August 13th, 2017 at 07:06 | #1

    I have no problem with Goggle/Alphabet firing of Damore, and I am certainly not going to carry water for the alt-right’s attack on feminism, very much similar to Murray’s point of inherited IQ difference among the races. There might be slight differences between genders and races, but the determining factor is cultural, and trying to obscure this fact by horning in other irrelevant factors to justify white, male superiority is hateful. The fact that Goggle is hypocritical is a given in capitalistic economy, even they realize this by taking down the motto of “Don’t be Evil”. Freedom is a luxury beyond most people of the world, to them it’s food, shelter, and health, see the recent battle over Obama care, not some abstract principle of the bourgeoisie.

  2. August 13th, 2017 at 09:29 | #2

    There might be slight differences between genders and races, but the determining factor is cultural, and trying to obscure this fact by horning in other irrelevant factors to justify white, male superiority is hateful.

    This is slightly off topic … but in my view labeling others as “hateful” or “supremacist” is not helpful … nor accurate.

    I think this is a matter people conflating too many things together. To me, the issues are not that hard; it’s just being politicized.

    1. objectively we know there are many measurable between various populations and groups, including IQ; I think that’s a scientific fact.

    2. of course we can argue what “IQ” is, etc., but in general, of course, there are differences in traits between groups of people. Caucasians have more “blue eyes” people than some subsets of Asiatic people, for example. So what?

    3. also where we establish correlations we do not necessarily establish causation; and even where we can establish some sort of causation, the cause and effect often involve multi factors. Last holiday, an uncle came to our home. He mentioned how hardworking our family is, how that is in our blood. I wondered thought whether it was truly genetic. Maybe it’s the values we were all raised with. We can argue whether it’s our upbringing or genes … and get nowhere, because we don’t know. It’s probably something in between, but where? And so what if we don’t agree? Same here, if you take the politics out. The google employee pointed out scientific facts, and advanced one interpretation that it’s more genetics than social factors that caused observed traits differences between male and female. This guy is not “hateful” just because it’s not “slam dunk” science. It’s no different than say “climate science.” Many observational sciences are not “hard science” in the sense that you cannot make experiments and predictions and try to test various theories. Most of what we call “science” is strongly influenced by ,pres and cultures of the day … by the paradigms of the day.

    But that’s a digression….

    Back to topic: freedom is definitely not a “luxury” as you claim. It’s actually a mirage, a mass opiate, and ultimately a tool of oppression …

  3. August 14th, 2017 at 00:20 | #3

    http://www.unz.com/article/googles-new-search-protocol-is-restricting-access-to-13-leading-socialist-progressive-and-anti-war-web-sites/#googles-chief-search-engineer-legitimizes-new-censorship-alg

    Between April and June, Google completed a major revision of its search engine that sharply curtails public access to Internet web sites that operate independently of the corporate and state-controlled media. Since the implementation of the changes, many left wing, anti-war and progressive web sites have experienced a sharp fall in traffic generated by Google searches. The World Socialist Web Site has seen, within just one month, a 70 percent drop in traffic from Google.

    In a blog post published on April 25, Ben Gomes, Google’s chief search engineer, rolled out the new censorship program in a statement bearing the Orwellian title, “Our latest quality improvements for search.” This statement has been virtually buried by the corporate media. Neither the New York Times nor the Wall Street Journal has reported the statement. The Washington Post limited its coverage of the statement to a single blog post.

    Framed as a mere change to technical procedures, Gomes’s statement legitimizes Internet censorship as a necessary response to “the phenomenon of ‘fake news,’ where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information.”

    The “phenomenon of ‘fake news’” is, itself, the principal “fake news” story of 2017. In its origins and propagation, it has all the well-known characteristics of what used to be called CIA “misinformation” campaigns, aimed at discrediting left-wing opponents of state and corporate interests.

    Significantly, Gomes does not provide any clear definition, let alone concrete examples, of any of these loaded terms (“fake news,” “blatantly misleading,” “low quality, “offensive,” and “down right false information.”)

    The focus of Google’s new censorship algorithm is political news and opinion sites that challenge official government and corporate narratives. Gomes writes: “[I]t’s become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content, which is not what people are looking for.”

    Gomes revealed that Google has recruited some 10,000 “evaluators” to judge the “quality” of various web domains. The company has “evaluators—real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments.” The chief search engineer does not identify these “evaluators” nor explain the criteria that are used in their selection. However, using the latest developments in programming, Google can teach its search engines to “think” like the evaluators, i.e., translate their political preferences, prejudices, and dislikes into state and corporate sanctioned results.

    Such censorship is taking place at Facebook and other U.S. internet companies.

    Is “freedom” really a luxury – or has it always been a facade? When push comes to shove, when “national security” and “social harmony” is truly at stake, is there anything that categorically doesn’t look like “shouting fire in a crowded theater”?

    Freedom is defined by politics. Always has. It’s a mirage to think of it as an “ideal” above politics that in real life sometimes unfortunately has to be dispensed with.

  4. alanking
    August 17th, 2017 at 21:56 | #4

    May be this will provide an opening for a future startup to combat such censorship. At leasr i hope so

You must be logged in to post a comment.