In the interests of full disclosure, I stopped using Google search a while ago, instead switching the default on all my devices to Duck Duck Go. It’s not that I didn’t find Google useful—in my humble opinion, it’s still probably the most robust and comprehensive search engine on the planet—but after reading about the heavy-handedness with which the they had treated James Damore after he authored the famous Google Memo, I simply decided that I didn’t want to advance the interests of a company that didn’t share my values on the free exchange of ideas. I thought this was especially important given that the very foundation of Google’s business model is supposed to be the free flow of information.
Damore’s summary firing for not embracing corporate orthodoxy also gave me another cause for concern: If Google executives had no compunction about stifling ideas they didn’t like within their own organization, how could I know that they weren’t doing the same thing with their search results? Well, as it turns out, that fear was well-founded—as the Daily Caller recently reported:
Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results.
And how exactly does this “fact checking” work? It’s pretty simple. Say that you’re searching around the web for a conservative take on the news of the day and you want to pull up a site like, say, the Daily Caller. When Google returns the results for that search, you’ll now find a handy summary on the right side of the screen that tells you about the site, what they write about, and. . .reviewed claims.
Yes, Google has taken it upon itself to present an “objective” review of a selection of stories from the website. Their take on the Daily Caller was less than kind, rating every story “mixed” at best and flat out “false” or “incorrect” in most cases.
Just in case that was an outlier, I decided to try a few other well-known conservative sites, ones I actually read on a daily basis. How did the Federalist do? Two “unprovens” and an “incorrect.” Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire? “False,” “incorrect,” a “no he did not,” a couple of “mixtures” and to top it all off a “mostly false.” The really good stuff came up when I search for sites on climate change, though. Watt’s Up With That scored a perfect “false” or “inaccurate” all across the board, while Climate Depot was basically branded a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
But here’s the kicker:
No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.
Daily Kos? No reviewed claims. Mother Jones? Not a peep. How about Vox? Surely with all their liberal hot takes, they rate few falsies and maybes? Nope. In fact, I had to go all the way over to the freekin’ Democratic Underground before I could find a Google fact check on a leftist site.
What’s more, in searching for these conservative sites I also found that the top of the list results included links to other sites that attempt to discredit them. So not only is Google making specious fact-check claims, they also seem to be doing their best to undermine conservative outlets by referring users to leftist talking points.
Call me a conspiracy kook, but I don’t think It’s paranoid to say that Google is trying to tip the scales here.
And that’s all the more reason not to help their business model.