Control and Censorship: What Has Big Tech Become?

Control and Censorship: What Has Big Tech Become?

Is there really such a thing as too big to fail? Mark Zuckerberg’s Augustus Caesar syndrome aside, there was a time when the Roman Empire dominated the then civilized world.

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Google, the biggest of the big, did not feel the need to send anyone (Larry Page’s presence was requested) to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee – an empty seat was left for Page, complete with placard. Yet Google has no problem cooperating with the Chinese government (Google China Prototype Links Searches to Phone Numbers, making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries. Ed: and note to Android owners: wonder where they are or have been beta testing).

You have to start wondering what exactly is going on inside Google, especially given the fact that Google Employees Protest Secret Work on Censored Search Engine for China, according to The New York Times, (about 1,400 employees signed the document, alleged three people familiar with the document, who were not authorized to speak publicly, in case you missed the irony of that one) or that Google employees are reportedly resigning over the company’s China search efforts, including a senior Google scientist who resigned over “Forfeiture of Our Values” in China. Notes The Intercept, Jack Poulson worked for Google’s research and machine intelligence department, where he was focused on improving the accuracy of the company’s search systems.

Caught on Camera

In case you missed it, someone leaked a video from the first Google all-hands meeting following the 2016 election: Google leaked video could fuel Trump charges of anti-conservative bias, says USA Today, “The video could add new fuel to charges leveled by Trump and some on the political right that Google is biased against conservatives. Google says it doesn’t rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.

“Most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad because of the election,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin says as the all-hands meeting begins. “Myself, as an immigrant and a refugee, I certainly find this election deeply offensive and I know many of you do, too. And I think it’s a very stressful time and it conflicts with many of our values.”

“The hour-long video, which offered a rare window into weekly all-hands meetings at the Silicon Valley Internet giant, comes as Google’s political fortunes in Washington have dramatically shifted… And it’s being stalked by allegations of partisan bias which have intensified in recent weeks. Digital experts have shot down assertions by Trump that Google has rigged search results to promote negative news about his presidency.”

We find Brin’s remarks – he compared Trump voters to ‘fascists’ and, in the video, vowed to thwart the rise of populism in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election, particularly interesting. Brin was very much an immigrant and a refugee, having been born in the Soviet Union (pre-Russia) to parents who fled religious persecution and a repressive regime based on both control and censorship, while Brin has built a company that is the greatest mechanism for censorship and control in the history of the world and one which appears to have a repressive internal culture.

And evidently feels he has the right, if not the obligation, to bend the world to his will and values and bugger all else. After all, what’s good for Google is good for the USA – and beyond. And that should worry you. Is it about politics, or censorship and control?

Smells like teen spirit to us.

You have to ask why a Google employee leaked the video. Is the culture at the company so repressive that he/she decided that it was time to shine a light? Google’s solution: no video capture allowed at all hands meetings, which also equates to censorship, by any other name.

It’s not the algorithm. It’s the betas males in the C suite.

Not that Google is alone among the socials in manipulating people and populations – and employees. Facebook has in the past been outed for experimenting with controlling users’ emotions – and worse – while Jack Dorsey recently told Recode that Twitter is so liberal that its conservative employees ‘don’t feel safe to express their opinions.’

So, where’s HR? And company policy?

Diversity, Tolerance and Fraud

These companies place a lot of focus on diversity and tolerance, but how real is it, if their employees’ opinions and beliefs are not being tolerated? How can you expect diversity and tolerance – or honest search results – from a corporate culture that appears to be anything but? Brin has vowed to end populism and impose his values onto the vast world that Google controls, meaning that if you come to Google expecting honest search results, and you get everything but what they don’t want you to see, it’s called censorship and worse, fraud.

He made his remarks at a company meeting, not privately. Does this mean that this is now Google policy?

And note to self: DuckDuckGo, StartPage. There are alternatives.

While Google happily works with China, it refuses to work with the US government. After all, Larry Page didn’t feel the need to answer questions before US lawmakers, although he is being tapped once again. We wonder if he was exercising his right to be forgotten – a right that he does not confer up the billions of users who subscribe to his company’s various services – or if he was exercising his white privilege, which his employees seem to so strenuously denounce when it comes to everyone else. He can’t duck lawmakers forever, despite the fact that he seems to be trying. We know that Page is fond of moonshots, but if he is subpoenaed, he may have no choice but to crater. Onward and forward.

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