Google has changed their algorithm so that it actively suppresses “misinformation” when “bad events” are taking place. This is pretty big news if you’re interested in free speech or the free flow of information. Nobody in the media treated it that way.
In fact, you probably didn’t see it at all. Almost no papers covered it – and the major one that did, The Guardian, buried back in the “science and technology” section.
The idea that Google suppresses “misinformation”, and boosts “authoritative voices” is not new. We already know they do that. The new part is that they will do it in real-time, they will respond to “tragic events” by focusing more on blocking “misinformation” at “criticial times”.
Pandu Nayak, the Google representative interviewed for the article, summed it up thus:
…we have developed algorithms that recognise that a bad event is taking place and that we should increase our notions of ‘authority’, increase the weight of ‘authority’ in our ranking so that we surface high quality content rather than misinformation in this critical time here.”
He is directly referencing mass shootings in the Sandy Hook vein, but he could just as well be talking about terrorist attacks, natural disasters, election results or war.
When he says “high quality content” (sic) he means corporate media. When he says “authority”, he means government sources.
Essentially, Google – the most powerful company on Earth – is going to be tightening its control on the flow of information when important news is breaking.
This is a step backwards for the internet, and the world. And it’s a direct response to challenges to state-backed narratives in multiple theatres of information warfare.
Take the Gulf of Oman incident. Compare and contrast: The Gulf of Oman, the USS Maine and the Gulf of Tonkin. The similarities are obvious, I won’t bother explaining.
The difference? Real-time flow of facts. Social media allowed people to comment on the flaws in the narrative instantly. The internet lets people see/hear Iran’s side of the narrative quickly and easily.
That open communication is the difference between a propagandised populace baying for blood, and an informed public asking the right questions. The difference between “historical realisation” decades after the fact, and instantaneous fact-checking. The difference between war and peace.
The almost-war with Iran is just the most recent example. Going back years now “official narratives” have faced a heretofore unknown level of challenge. The sheer number of people calling BS on the Skripal affair and the Douma chemical attack prevented a stronger reaction to both those false flags.
The war in Syria didn’t happen. The war in Iraq did. People believed babies were thrown out of incubators, but never bought that Assad had gassed his own people. All because of the direct channel of communication between people who know the truth and the people who want the truth.
That’s the channel Google are trying to close. Google, and Facebook, and Twitter and everyone else.
And, of course, the press cheers them on. Demanding we have our rights taken away for the sake of freedom, and applauding when some massive corporate conglomeration places yet another restriction on the liberty of the individual.
The Guardian has always been at the forefront of that push, with their absurd “Web We Want” section (which died a swift death, fortunately).
This article uses all the usual tricks, dressing the issue up in emotionally manipulative language – citing mass shootings and holocaust denial as if free speech precludes being wrong or offensive (it doesn’t).
The specifics don’t matter. Examples don’t matter. All that matters are the precedent and the future applications.
This is about what all “safeguards” on the internet are about – controlling the narrative. The old idiom still applies:
Knowledge IS power.
Right now WE have it, and THEY want to take it back.