by Danielle Ryan, Russia Insider:
The truth is, if RT was spewing out nothing but falsehoods and lies every day Google wouldn’t need to “de-rank” it, because it would be totally irrelevant as a very limited number of people would choose to read it.”
Who is the true propagandist? The man who offers you information which you can freely choose to believe or disregard — or the man who tries to control what you see, for fear you might start using your own brain to distinguish truth from lies?
That is essentially what Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, is doing when it comes to news articles from this website, RT. Schmidt was closely involved in Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, and in a recent interview he admitted that Google is creating special algorithms to filter RT’s news and make it appear less prominently in Google’s search results. In his own words, Google is trying to “engineer the systems” to make RT’s content less visible.
The ostensible goal of this search-engine-doctoring is to combat “propaganda” and “misinformation” from Russia. Its true purpose is to control the political narrative, in order to keep people from reading different perspectives and asking inconvenient questions.
The truth is, if RT was spewing out nothing but falsehoods and lies every day Google wouldn’t need to “de-rank” it, because it would be totally irrelevant as a very limited number of people would choose to read it. This brings us to the paradox inherent in the hysteria over RT: Its critics can’t seem to decide what they want you to believe. Is RT an all-powerful entity with the ability to take over and fry your brain, or is its impact on our feeble minds totally insignificant?
Propaganda is not just about what you say, it’s also about what you don’t say. In Google’s case, it’s about what you choose to promote and what you choose to hide or obscure. The justification given for de-ranking RT is that it spreads lies – but Schmidt gave no examples.
In the same interview, Schmidt says he is “very strongly not in favor of censorship” and that Google would never outright “ban” RT. What Schmidt seems to miss is that banning something is not the only form of censorship. Google is using its immense power to control what people are seeing and – no surprises here – Google would prefer it if you saw more flattering coverage of itself and the US government institutions to which it is intimately linked. That is censorship, whether Schmidt wants to admit it or not.
It is not just Russian sites that Google is de-ranking either. The corporation which enjoys almost complete monopoly over the internet has already been criticized for censoring left-wing, anti-war websites like Alternet, Democracy Now, Truth-out.org, Counterpunch and Truthdig. Some of those websites have reported huge drops in traffic since changes were made to Google’s search algorithms to combat “fake news”. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly that Google is a cheerleader for American militarism and a loyal partner to war profiteers both in the arms industry and in Congress. Yet the corporation still enjoys a widespread reputation as a benign arbiter of truth.
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