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Google's Censorship

by Berry Friesen (August 2, 2017)

Today’s lead is a report on Internet censorship: how Google’s new initiative to suppress so-called fake news (announced April 25) is impacting your and my access to anti-imperial news reports and perspectives.

The Google change in policy is styled “a technical change” designed to combat

  “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.”

According to Google’s announcement, it has “improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content.” At another point in its announcement, it explains the change this way:  “We’ve adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content.”

Say you want to read the latest about the “civil unrest in Venezuela.”  If you insert the quoted phrase in Google’s search engine, the latest Google innovation will deliver on pages 1-2 of the result only articles that reflect information and perspectives consistent with mainline US media sources. Alternative news sources will be buried deep within the search results.
An August 2 report from WSWS reveals the remarkable success of Google’s censorship initiative.

“New data compiled by the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), with the assistance of other Internet-based news outlets and search technology experts, proves that a massive loss of readership observed by socialist, anti-war and progressive web sites over the past three months has been caused by a cumulative 45 percent decrease in traffic from Google searches.”

According to the report, here are websites that have experienced big declines in traffic; many have been quoted here from time to time in this blog.

* fell by 67 percent
* fell by 63 percent
* fell by 62 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 47 percent
* fell by 42 percent
* fell by 37 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 36 percent
* fell by 30 percent
* fell by 25 percent
* fell by 21 percent
* fell by 19 percent

This alarming impact occurred during the first three month of Googles’ censorship initiative. Additional Google refinements are planned and the impact on alternative news sites will only increase.  Veteran journalist Robert Parry calls this development "the dawn of an Orwellian future."

You and I can protect ourselves from Google’s censorship by going directly to alternative news sites  that are not beholden to corporate or government interests. But the huge part of the population that reads mainly what pops up in the news feed on their browsers or uses Google searches to find helpful content will not be protected.

As I’ve said before, “fake news” is not a new problem; it long has been the way the ruling elite shapes public views.

But it’s even worse than that.  As noted by WSWS,

“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.”

It’s critical that we access alternative news sites for our news and perspectives.  And it’s critical we talk with our neighbors and friends about this so that they also will turn away from the managed news of the corporate media.  This is something we all can do, if only we care enough to try.

One last note: WSWS is a left-wing news outlet and its reporting has highlighted mainly left-leaning sites.  But the data shows right-leaning sites (such as also have been hit hard. This isn't a left-right issue; it's about censorship and our access to news alternatives and it affects us all.

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