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Monday, May 29, 2006

Where is Google Going?

There has a rumor going around the Net in the past couple of weeks that Google-News has been Censoring certain publishers who write anything that would be offensive towards Islam. It now seems that this is not longer a rumor, it seems that, very quietly, Google has been removing sites that don't follow certain political opinions that are acceptable by google. The removal was not from the Search Engine - but only from Google News. Just to clarify this is from Google-News Site:

    As a result, news sources are selected without regard to political viewpoint or ideology, enabling you to see how different organizations are reporting the same story. This variety of perspectives and approaches is unique among online news sites, and we consider it essential in helping you stay informed about the issues that matter most to you.

And This:

    Google News has no human editors selecting stories or deciding which ones deserve top placement. Our headlines are selected by computer algorithms, based on factors including how often and on what sites a story appears online. This is very much in the tradition of Google web search, which relies heavily on the collective judgment of online publishers to determine which sites offer the most valuable and relevant information. Similarly, Google News relies on the editorial judgment of online news organizations to determine which stories are most deserving of inclusion and prominence on the Google News home page.

This however seems not to be the case anymore. For the past month at least Google has removed at least 3 that I know of, and there are apparently more on the Watch list. The result is now that some sites that have not been removed are replacing articles with this:

    Dear Reader, because Google has become very strict in what it considers to be acceptable content, we have removed this article. We regret having to take this action but since it's Google's game, we must play by their rules.

So for starters, If you are listed on Google-news - be aware that this is going on and watch what you write. I know for myself that the Site I administer, gets many clicks from Google-News and Google in general and would not like to see my site removed.

More sources on this:
The Conservative Voice
Slashdot
NewBusters
Israel Hasbarah

you will note the lack of Liberal Sites on the list of places talking about this, this is not for lack of looking - I have only been able to find Conservative and Techie site talking about this. It seems that Freedom of speech only applies when it's Their Freedom that is not being preserved.

To say that I am disappointed in Google would be an understatement, I hope that this wrongdoing will be corrected soon.

The Articles that lead to the Cencorship:
http://www.newmediajournal.us/guest/imani/04222006.htm
http://www.newmediajournal.us/staff/stock/05082006.htm
http://www.newmediajournal.us/staff/peck/05102006.htm

UPDATE:
HERE IS SOME MORE ARTICLES THAT DISCUSS THIS CURRENT SITUATION AND GIVE MORE HISTORY BEHIND WHAT IS GOING ON: (Hat Tip: LGF)
News Busters
LGF

35 Comments:

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Chaim said...

Google takes part in some of the worst political censoring online today. Try searching for any news story on their google/news and see how little balance their is.

Worse, for every gay pride day or civil rights day or birthday or every artists or explorer gets a special google icon but on Memorial Day we got nothing. Who said Liberals aren't proud of their country?

 
At 10:18 PM, Blogger menachem said...

i don't know... that doesn't sound like google.

to test your theory, i searched for "muslim terrorist" in google yahoo and msn (the news search bar for each one.)

results as of 10:00 monday night:

yahoo news gave me 8
msn news gave me 24
google news gave me 33

i looked through the google news results, and many of them were articles that muslims would probably find offensive.

maybe you're right, though. can you prove this? that newspaper putting up that page you linked to doesn't prove anything, they could just be putting that up for no reason.

 
At 11:10 PM, Blogger menachem said...

ok, i take it back, you're right. i looked into it some more, and google is in fact blocking some of these sites.

google also blocks, by the way, nazi, KKK, and white supremist sites. so what exactly are you saying? are you saying that google has no right to censorship, and has an obligation to display every legitimate web result?

or are you saying that google does have a right, or an obligation to perform some censorship, but you don't agree with its choices. you think that nazi and KKK sites should be blocked, because you think they're racist, but the anti-islam sites should be allowed, because they're not.

there's a subtle difference between the two. which one are you?

 
At 11:16 PM, Blogger saba said...

wow..this seriously amazes me...what happened to freedom of expression and all that jazz?? internet was the only place where people could actually express their opinions..i guess its time to take that away eh?

 
At 12:06 AM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

Menachem,
I have an issue with a place that Claims that it's not political but then goes and does something like this.
Also it is one thing not to accept certain types of sites (I am not saying if I agree or not) - it's another to take them off without warning because of something they have written.
I do not want to think twice about "what Google is thinking" before I write something.
one last note - when I asked them about this in regrads to an Anti-semetic web site they told me that they do not get involved in these kinds of things (I can't find the response email).

 
At 2:23 AM, Blogger menachem said...

how is google any worse than you? google self-censors, both with this islamic stuff, and in china (if you followed that story... big news about a year ago) because they're scared of the reprecussions.

you tell us to watch what we say, because if we say the wrong thing, there'll be reprecussions (google might take us off the site). if google took your site of their list, would you correct the "mistake," and try to get back on? or would you stand by your article, and suffer the consequences of being off google's news list?

 
At 6:31 AM, Blogger shlemazl said...

If Google really wants to blank out anti-Islamic sites, it has to blank out most of the news coming out of the Islamic countries + a sprinkling of news about western Muslims.

Al Qaeda, Hamas, everything Ahmadinejad says and Cartoon riots was the strongest anti-Islamic "propaganda" I've ever come across.

 
At 8:19 AM, Blogger Lady-Light said...

I am shocked that Google is doing this censorship, if it is true. I will (bli neder) check out the links you have in your post.
In other matters, have you contacted my daughter yet? And how did your paper go? Please email me (see my site) about this.
Be well!

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Free speech is not without restrictions.

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

That was a response to a comment above.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

menachem, you lost me. How is my warning about google the same as google taking sites off becuase of content? I am not going to do anything to you if you write something they consider hateful. Please explain yourself.

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Menachem, you're missing the point. Google is taking these sites off of their news crawler, NOT their search engine. If these were the equivalent, as they and you say, of the KKK sites they took down, these sites would be off the search engine as well. They take these sites off the news crawler, but if you googled them on the search engine, they'd be there. If they're filled with enough "hate speech" to be taken off of the news crawler, then they should be bad enough to be taken off the search engine as well.

Secondly, you're missing the history behind this. Google is coming out more and more as a left wing medium. How so? Well, they've donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns. Not one dime has gone to a Republican candidate from the hudreds of employees from Google who have donated money. It has also been recently discovered that Google is the premium sponsor, behind George Soros, of MoveOn.org, the far left wing lobby group. They have already donated more than a million dollars to the organization. I will get the source for you later today. I am the one who brought this issue up with my husband after reading a couple of articles on this issue. I don't have the article on me right now.

Also, comparing Google to a personal blog is completely ridiculous, and it's like comparing apples and sky scrapers. Google, in their policy, says that there is no human editing in the order of news articles. They tout that it's done by a sophisticated algirythm that disolves any sort of human bias. This blog, while trying to be objective and fair, does not claim any such thing. It is complete human editing when Google sends a letter saying that we got a complaint of hate speech on your site, so you're being removed from the news crawler. They give no warning, and they offer no chance for appeal. There is no chance to correct the "mistake" or to even stand by the article or defend it. If that is not human editing, I don't know what is. The three articles are not the only ones and not the only site shut down by google. So, again, I will bring the link for the article I read, and post it for more information. However, out of the dozens of sites that have been removed their news crawler, not one has been what any-one would consider a left-wing oriented e-zine. Is there no left wing sites that include "hate speech"?
-OC

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Woland said...

Not that I'm trying to defend Google, but I think that Google grew too quickly than it could adjust to it. As a company goes bigger, so grows the number of people that would want to hurt it one way or another. I think that it has nothing to do with political point of view, but with the fact that Google simply wants to cover it's ass. However, the fact that there are groups that could intimidate such big companies, is something we should pay attention to.

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

woland, I see what you're saying. I'm not sure that I agree with it, but you make a good point.
-OC

 
At 9:57 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Firstly, I'm convinced that Google will only remove pages from Google News, upon receipt of a genuine complaint. Only then does human editing come into it. This opinion is based on my experience in search engine placement.

The question therefore is: is this such a bad thing? Let me take an example. If Google indexed something seriously anti-Semitic (using its regular, auto-indexing algorithm) and someone complained about this, would it not be unusual fot Google NOT to act and remove the material?

What good does hate-speech, whoever it's directed at? If no logical argument can be presented mere mudslinging and slander will not be able to replace it. Hate-speech, extremely strong language etc. cannot be considered newsworthy, for it reliquishes all claims to objectivity or meritable argument.

And I do see a lot of hatred directed at Islam, most of it indeed not of any higher level than pure, spectacular, vitriolic bile and slander, designed perhaps to "sound tough" but adding nothing to the discussion.

As regards Google's donations: were these made by individual employees or by the Company? In the latter case, why would this be so different from, say, the NRA donating to like-minded rightwing organisations (to use but one example)?

It's a private Company and it can do with its money and information index as it pleases, within the confines of the law.

 
At 11:47 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Unfortunately I must agree with the old man, but Menachem you, smart guy, have a way of twisting people's words that makes me sick.

Sincerely yours, Greg.

 
At 12:51 AM, Blogger menachem said...

greg, i am constantly baffled by you. me and OY are having a perfectly civil discussion about the appropriateness of censorship, and about whether or private companies have a right to do this. what you wrote about me on the MadZionist site in reference to this comment thread was disgusting.

it's a subject i find fascinating, and i actually wrote a research paper on it, back when i was at YU. what i find interesting about what i wrote then in light of what we're discussing now, is that back in 2002, when i wrote it, it was the leftist media that was being censored. specifically, and what i based the paper on, was Bill Maher being fired from ABC, and his show cancelled after some non-patriotic statements were said. i happen to agree with OY, in principle.

when i said he was no better than google, i was saying this: google gives into blackmail by extremist elements, and doesn't show certain content on it's webcrawler. in turn, i think that any blog that censors its content in order to stay on google's newscrawler is giving into blackmail from a different kind of terrorist-google. that's what i meant when i said there's no difference.

greg, what words did i twist around?

 
At 12:54 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Menachem, all that is of NO consequence. As far as you're concerned(well you're not concerned since you're out of my world since now) you don't have a right to jump on every spelling mistake/ mistaken inference everyone makes. I will not attack you on this post since I can't but I will do so on every other post I see your name appear.

 
At 1:02 AM, Blogger menachem said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:06 AM, Blogger menachem said...

when did i jump on OY's "spelling mistake/ mistaken inference?"

 
At 2:19 AM, Blogger shlemazl said...

Oleh/Olah:

I look forward to meeting you guys.

Just send me an e-mail via my website and let me know the dates. I am probably going to be away for a couple of weeks in September, but hopefully we can find the right time.

 
At 2:40 AM, Blogger Greg said...

M: take a look at your 3rd comment on this list.

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger menachem said...

still not getting anything...

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Oleh Yahshan said...

Menachem and Greg - you should start you own blog where you can Scream dis and throw mud at each other all day - it might make an interesting read.

Gert,
I actually wrote about the Ant-semitic thing, I sent them an email in regards to it about a site called New Hounds. They wrote something that was pure anti-semitism (not the Usual ant-Israel nonsense) and I brought it to googles attention. they told me they don't Censor (I can't find the Email at the moment) As you can well see they are still listed on the Google Site.

In addition I pointed out that I have no issue with a site to declare that there are certain things that are not acceptable to them. It is something completely different to accept someone and then decide to remove their site because of something they wrote.
also once you start getting into what is Hate Speech as opposed to real content you start getting into a whole new debate.

In the end all I really want is for Google - Being the Giant they are today to give us the guidelines with which they accept or deny News Sources. Including what can and cannot be written under "News" that would solve a lot of the debate that is going on now.

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

gert, you made some interesting arguments and some very good points. Of course, Google is a private company and can censor at will, theoretically. If they wanted to, tomorrow they could take off all websites that beging with the letter "c". It would be bad business, but they could do it. However, they have built their reputation on having non-human involvement in editing and order of sites on their web crawler. For me, in order for Google to justify having human involvement in how or if they place sites in their news crawler, they need to rewrite their policy. As of right now, if they get a complaint, even if it's well worded and seems legitimate, they need to give that site a warning, telling them that they've been flagged for hate speech. That site should be taken off the crawler without warning, as they are now. That site should also be given the option to appeal the attack, and be given a copy of the complaint. When these sites are taken off without warning, it reaks of foul play, even if that's not Google's intention. You know what I'm saying? Also, again, if these sites constituted hate speech in the same regard, and as you compare, as KKK sites, then they would be taken off the search engine as well, as those other sites you mentioned have. However, that's not the case here. If you googled these articles now, after they've already been taken off the crawler, you can find them off their original websites. They haven't been removed. You have to admit, that also reaks of foul play.

As per the donations, they have both been made by employees and in the company's name. And, yes, you could compare it to an organization like the NRA, but they're not really comparable for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the NRA is a lobby group, with a specific agenda that fits a particular government party. Google is a private company who proffesses that it has no political agenda and that there is no human tampering or editing with their news. When Google employees donate to a politican and/or a party, that's fine, but when the company itself is doing it, that's fishy. Also, as I mentioned Google, the company, is the main monetary sponsor, behind creator George Soros, behind MoveOn.org, a radical left-wing group. What are you supposed to think then?

Again, a private company can do whatever it wants, but if Google wants to stay on top of the internet industry, it would be in their best business interest to not move in the direction where they're hinting at going with this whole fiascal.
-OC

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Oleh and Olah:

Firstly you need to distinguish between censorship and self-censoring.

The former means that an authority organisation (usually Government) prohibits organisations that are subject to it (e.g. newspapers) from publishing certain material. The best known recent case is HMG's ban on publishing the potentailly damaging al-Jazeera memo.

Self-censoring is what you, I, Google and most other blogs and newspapers etc practice: editorial control. We decide what's published and what's not, these are our decisions and they aren't influenced by any "higher authority".

Google's auto-algo isn't there for our delight either: it's there to allow them to crawl and index thousands of Mb of new material each day. Without the algo, this would require thousands upon thousands of editorial staff to get the job done.

The drawback of the auto-algo is that it's actually very easy to deceive, as many dishonst search engine placement experts know and do. On top of that, undesirable material (hate sites) may slip under the radar, either acccidentally (imperfect algorithm) or because the owner used deception. Human editing to some extent is therefore inevitable.

And for editors this is a hard call: what exactly constitutes hate-speech, anti-semitism, islamophobia or other forms of xenophobia and bigotry? Easy on the face of it but not at all that easy really. So, some complaints will result in action being taken, others not. It's impossible to please everyone.

The fact that the NRA is a lobby is neither here nor there: many actual private companies do sponsor political organisations, including political parties: there is nothing illegal or unethical about this at all.

Do you have any evidence that Google is sponsoring moveon.org? You're asserting Google is veering to the left: I'd be very surprised at that and see no great signs of it.

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Completely off-topic and a mere suggestion.

Like many blogs I visit and comment on, the comment section opens as a pop-up window. That's actually quite limiting and annoying for commenters that want to provide a longer, illustrated (with links) comment because the normal browser functions are disabled in the pop-up.

This means, crucially, that cutting and pasting isn't possible. Also it's much harder to provide links: the commenter needs to hand-copy the entire url into the comment box.

Some commenters also like to spell and grammar check their comment before submitting it. Typically, I write my comments off-line in Word (or any text processor), save it and only then cut and paste it into the comment box. This way you can't lose any comments due to a Blogger malfunction (happens frequently, as you know).

If you want to try and implement this, go to your dashbord, choose Settings > Comments. Scroll down and you'll find a section where you can toggle between "pop-up" or "not pop-up". Next, republish the blog and the changes will be implemented. I've done this myself a while ago and have suggested it to other bloggers.

To see how the comment section appears without popping up, take at look at mine.

It's only a suggestion...

 
At 11:47 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Gert, I provided the links to the article from News Busters, which includes the MoveOn.org information. Please read them. As for your other comments, I'll get back to them tomorrow. I'm tired and going to sleep.
-OC

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Gert said...

OK, thanks, found it.

Again, no sign of anything illegal at all, as long as these donations are declared.

You describe MoveOn.org as a "radical left-wing group". Blimey, have you actually perused that site? Suitable qualifiers here are in my view "progressive", "liberal", "centre left", or, at a push, "just left of centre left". But radical? No way, Jose...

From their "About" page:

"MoveOn.org Civic Action was started by Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, two silicon valley entrepreneurs." When was the last time you met a "radical left wing silicon valley entrepreneur"? If you have, you must be at risk of falling off the right side of the political scale...

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Olah, on a different topic, I'm sorry about 'em Pistons. Flip simply did a bad job of getting his team ready for those games. It was either that or the series with Cleveland got the players doubting themselves. Or, it could be that Miami is just the better team.

 
At 1:22 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

No, I think the series with Cleveland did a number on them. I don't think that Miami is a better team. Both Detroit teams choked this year. Before the playoffs started, both teams were at the top of their respective leagues, and the city was talking about a double championship summer. Now, there's going to be a no championship summer.

gert, since you don't, as I presume, live in America, it seems you really don't know what MoveOn.org is really all about. Reading their "mission statement" isn't really going to give you a clear idea about what they do. They left wing lobby organization was started and funded for by George Soros, a vocal far left-wing billionaire. Its purpose is completely left wing and completely liberal. They are lobbying to impeach President Bush. They do many events with Code Pink, another far left org. They go around to various politicians' speaches and haggle them, this includes Democratic darlings like Senator Clinton, because they don't support an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. They are aggressively anti-Israel. They have vocally supported conspiracy theorists who claim the Mossad is behind 9/11. They actively have joint parade with socialist groups and preach socialist ideals. But, if this isn't left wing or even radical left wing ideals in your book, then I want to what is. I've seen their parades. I've seen their messages, up close and personal. I don't have to visit their website to see what they're all about. I've seen them in action. Do you even know where silicon valley is situated?!? By San Francisco, my dear friend. The liberal, radical left wing, hippy, socialist capital of the world. The idea might have come from two simple guys, but follow the money, and see where the rabbit hole goes.
-OC

 
At 3:16 PM, Blogger Greg said...

OC: I think the time has come for another sports post:)Please don't me cry for Detroit, though.

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Olah and Oleh: I'd like your opinion on my latest post. I'd be delighted to hear what you have to say!

 
At 8:12 PM, Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

greg, no problem. I'm going to take a couple of days to process the loss and then post my thoughts. OK?
-OC

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger Gert said...

OK. Thanks for the discussion.

 

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