Skip to comments.Leaked Google Document Reveals Shift to Suppressing Free Speech
Posted on 10/17/2018 2:38:11 PM PDT by walford
An 85-page Google internal briefing, chillingly and perhaps oxymoronically titled The Good Censor, was just leaked. The big tech giants are moving away from supporting a free internet, it says. Instead, they move toward censoring their users. Thats inevitable. And possibly even good.
The briefing matter-of-factly notes that global internet freedoms have gone downhill for the past seven years. Users now question celebrating the openness of the internet. People are no longer willing to see the platforms as neutral mediators of social life.
More people are asking, isnt big tech really big media in disguise?
Is it possible to have an open and inclusive internet while simultaneously limiting political oppression and despotism, hate, violence and harassment? asks Nathaniel Tkacz. He teaches in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick.
Several news sources are quoted calling for the big tech giants to be treated as media companies due to the increasing censorship. So far, big tech has rejected the label in order to retain their immunity from liability. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act states that tech firms have legal immunity for the majority of the content posted on their platforms. This is unlike traditional media outlets. But, the report notes, more people are asking, isnt big tech really big media in disguise?
Googles Principles for Determining the Right Amount of Censorship
Be more consistent.
Dont take sides.
Police tone instead of content.
Be more transparent.
Enforce standards and policies clearly.
Justify global positions.
Explain the technology.
Be more responsive.
Take problems seriously.
Be more empowering.
The briefing cites breeding conspiracy theories as one of the reasons for the censorship. What example does it offer? President Trumps claim that Googles search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton.
Isnt this a conspiracy theory? No. Robert Epstein, a behavioral psychologist who supported Hillary Clinton, found it was true. His research determined that Google favored Clinton over Trump during the election.
The briefing notes the tech giants first partial steps to censorship. They hurt the target without actually removing particular statements. Twitter removes the verified blue check from those who violate its policies. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube briefly suspend accounts. YouTube demonetizes videos.
But they also indulge in full banning. Google banned ads about guns and ads from payday lenders. YouTube increased the number of people on the lookout to ban content to more than 10,000.
The briefing notes that tech firms are forming a balancing act between two incompatible positions. On the one hand, they are trying to create unmediated marketplaces of ideas in the American tradition. On the other hand, they want to create well-ordered spaces for safety and civility in the European tradition.
The American tradition prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility. It creates space to debate all values. Even civility norms can be debated. The European tradition favors dignity over liberty. It values civility over freedom. It censors racial and religious hatred even where there is no threat of violence.
The document quotes Kalev Leetaru, an American internet entrepreneur who writes about data and society. He says that we no longer think of censorship in terms of government. Now, private companies control whether your speech stays up or goes down.
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The briefing goes over reasons why this shift is taking place. One is to appease users and stop bad behavior. Another is in response to government regulations. A third reason is to protect advertisers from content they may not like.
This new position as moderator in chief has been coming for some time. Leetaru says the internet is evolving into a corporate-controlled moderated medium.
Franklin Foer, a staff writer at The Atlantic and , admits there is a problem. The former editor of the liberal flagship The New Republic says, We do know that journalism, activism and public debate are being silenced in the effort to stamp out extremist speech.
The briefing observes, The balancing act between free-for-all and civil-for-most is proving difficult. It ends with principles for finding the right amount of censorship. One is to justify global positions of agreeing to censorship in other countries. Another is to provide positive guidelines. The tech giants should give people positive guidance on how to behave on the platform not only tell them how not to act.
It may sound reasonable. But it suffers a big problem. Who decides what is abuse, harassment and hate speech? What one person considers conservative speech, another person may think abusive or hateful. This has taken place all too many times already.
The tech giants are beginning to control who can say what. Who elected the tech giants to decide what free speech is allowed?
“But the author rightly argues that when the hosts of Social Media volunteer to police content based upon politics, social perspectives, etc., they are taking responsibility to not only be liable for harmful language, but are obligated to provide free-speech access to anyone, regardless of ideology, religion or Party affiliation.”
No, they are not obligated to provide access to everyone, they simply become legally liable for speech on their platform once they assume a certain level of editorial control.
Even if, for the sake of argument, they were to be regulated like a utility, as television networks are, they wouldn’t be obligated to provide access. The “Fairness Doctrine” is no longer in effect.
Positively Orwellian, with algorithms.
So you would have no problem if AT&T cut off your access to communicate. Because “they are not obligated to provide access to everyone.”
Mind Control To Major Tom.....
Mind Control To Major Tom.....
The fact remains that there is a big difference from merely hosting content and having no responsibility for what users post — and deciding to edit, ban, delete content based upon social/political ideology.
The latter makes them subject to the same regulations that apply to Television/Radio etc. Hence, the operators of Social Media are finding themselves being questioned in Congressional hearings.
If this sort of social media censorship continues, their free-wheeling Internet laissez-faire status will end.
Bring back the BBS
WUT???? Google’s been taken over by the Trump troops? /S
“No, they are not obligated to provide access to everyone.”
Don’t be so certain of that. It depends on whether or not the internet and Google’s monopoly of it can be considered to be the “public square”. Jack Dorsey repeatedly referred to Twitter as the public square in his congressional testimony.
In 1947 the Supreme Court ruled in Marsh v. Alabama that a company could not forbid a Jehovah’s Witness from handing out literature in their public square, even though the entire town was owned by the company.
Google and Twitter do not have the right to censor their users, it’s “settled law”!
George Orwell “1984”
Down the memory hole
Interesting, all these leaked Google documents lately. Are these Google employees that are leaking them? I dont know, but for some reason I find that hard to believe. Google is a tight liberal bastion.
What if someone else somehow has access to these documents, and is dripping them out slowly?
Say someone who has already expressed their dissatisfaction with the way Google provides search results. Maybe someone with access to everything?
Probably wishful thinking...
We need a “Right to be Forgotten” law here, similar to what the EU just implemented. Some in congress, addicted to big tech’s $, are quietly trying to submit a very wattered down version, to head a good bill off at the pass.
Under the radar.
Going on right now.
“No, they are not obligated to provide access to everyone, they simply become legally liable for speech on their platform once they assume a certain level of editorial control.”
While your point is true corporate-owned social media has become the de-facto public square and if Americans are to remain free, laws will have to crafted that ensure that social media sites that have a monopolistic position cannot infring upon the rights of Americans. You may not like it but it is coming because the tech masters of the universe need to be brought to heel.
In even the most doctrinaire Leftist environment, you will find right-wing people who keep their heads down and their opinions to themselves. Most of the time.
Oh, I know all about that. I work in a very liberal university where chalkings of Trump on the sidewalks brought out the university police.
But would I risk my job and my retirement fund to leak damaging documents about the university when it could be traced back to me?
No, I would not.
You are exactly right. These internet Kings need to be treated as utilities, not media.
Break them up ala Ma Bell.
“October 11th Facebook shut down thousands of Facebook accounts for their political opinions stating that they dont have a legitimate political argument.
...Facebook took down our Facebook page, cutting off all contact we had with the millions of people who signed up to follow us, the millions of people who liked what we were sharing online. We had a coveted, verified blue check mark, 3.5 Million fans, and I invested over $300,000 in ads at Facebooks own request, nearly begging us to spend spend spend just to reach our fans whom they kept making more difficult to reach with every passing year.
...Facebook also deleted my other business page. I own a coffee company called Military Grade Coffee Company [which donates 10% of all profits back to veteran organizations]. We dont post politics, we sell coffee and support veteran charities. Facebook is maliciously attacking my way of life because of my beliefs, and they dont care. The New York Times even stated that Facebook made this calculated move to silence thousands of voices (and millions of forwarded messages) because of the upcoming midterm elections.”
Amen. The big Tech companies are effectively monopolies in their individual areas....Facebook, Twitter, Youtube/Google, utterly dominate their respective spheres. They need to either be broken up or barred from censoring in any way, anything but clearly illegal speech (ie terrorism, child porn, making terroristic threats).
They are making so many enemies with their assembling of private information about people and censorship as well as the fact that they are monopolies, that before long they will be severely regulated by the feds. They’re just too arrogant to stop making enemies - thus ensuring there will be political support to regulate the hell out of them.
A person on the inside can do a HECK of a lot more ‘mischief’ than a hacker on the outside.
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