Google has faced a lot of criticism for being biased against conservatives – which, of course, the company has dismissed as conspiracy theories. But if the leaked video, multiple independent user tests and studies, and the revelation of the censorship search engine being built specifically for Communist China didn’t convince you, allow yet another leak from Google to allay any remaining disbelief.
Breitbart unveiled an internal briefing leaked to them from someone at Google October 9. The document, titled “The Good Censor,” shows that the tech giants Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook control the flow of most ideas expressed online and that they have moved progressively toward censorship over free speech.
American Tradition v European Tradition
What many in the U.S. don’t realize is that unregulated – or, at least nearly unregulated – free speech is a uniquely American idea. As Liberty Nation’s Scott Cosenza explained after British activist and journalist Tommy Robinson was jailed for reporting what should have been the news:
“In 1735, journalist and publisher John Peter Zenger was acquitted of libel by a New York jury. His attorney successfully argued that truth should be an absolute defense to a charge of libel – a novel legal theory at the time. Not only did the jury agree, but that notion became part of the common-law in the colonies, then in the United States, and still exists today …
… Many Americans incorrectly believe this legal and cultural tradition is shared in countries we are most like in culture/history/law, such as Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. Those countries aren’t Cuba, but the freedom to speak and publish does not ring anywhere else as true as it does in the U.S.A.”
Free speech, as enshrined and protected by the First Amendment, is, as “The Good Censor” explains, the American tradition. In this, the creators are correct. The European tradition, as they describe the other option, “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” That’s a pretty way of saying that in Europe, people are censored for what the governments claim is their own good.
As the Google briefing explains, the tech companies are now trending toward the European tradition. But worse still – the creators of the briefing argue that the American tradition be abandoned and that Google take up the mantle of guarantor of civility by playing the role of a more active curator rather than an impartial, neutral platform.
Ordinary People v Authoritative Sources
As it stands, the relatively open and unregulated nature of the internet allows the average Joe to have just as much say as a qualified subject matter expert in just about any conversation. Of course, the effective range of that equal say is largely determined by the number of people following the commenter – which is likely to be higher in the case of credentialed experts with established platforms. And, of course, the poster’s credentials go a long way in determining just how much weight their comments carry.
But on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and just about any free forum or message board, verified experts, wannabe experts, curious folk, spammers, and trolls can mix their comments freely. This is an atrocity to the authors of “The Good Censor,” it seems, as the briefing bemoans this level playing field and advocates the promotion of “authoritative sources,” like The New York Times, over others. YouTube already incorporates this practice.
Tone v Content
The document addresses both the increasing calls from other governments and those who feel oppressed online to censor the content of the web and the complaints that Google has already censored far too much – with an obvious leftist slant. They deny any such bias, of course, despite the growing mound of evidence against them. But to address the user trust issue, “The Good Censor” proposes that Google could resist taking any one side and instead censor by tone rather than message.
But can they? In the briefing, Donald Trump winning the presidency is listed as one of the major negative recent events, directly related to free speech, that show that the “utopian” idea of free speech has failed. The creators also accuse Trump of pushing the conspiracy theory that Google suppressed negative information about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle. They imply that then-candidate Donald Trump shouldn’t have had the freedom to tweet that accusation – never mind the fact that the anti-Trump bias has been proven more than once through independent tests.
Like most left-leaning advocates of censorship, they claim only to target hate speech, but then label any political view different from their own as hate speech.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have all faced criticism for leftist bias, and rightly so. This newest revelation should surprise no one. “The Good Censor” merely further confirms what we already know: These companies, in general, can’t tolerate any ideas that don’t fit neatly into the left’s narrative. And individual liberty isn’t nearly as important as protecting the world from dissenting viewpoints.