When the internet age fully began with the dawning of widespread broadband connections and stable downloads, some heralded it as a new dawning for free speech and communication. However, after years of leftist control, companies have slowly eroded the idea of ‘free speech’ on the web in exchange for ‘safety and civility.’
A secret, recently leaked Google briefing argued that, due to a variety of ‘political’ factors, free speech was no longer viable on the internet.
The ‘Good Censor’ document outed “free speech” in the “American tradition” as no longer being viable on the internet, and basically declared that the ‘Good Censor’ is prepared to act on behalf of the people, much like Hitler and other despots of the past, because “the internet allows ‘crummy politicians’ to expand their influence.”
This internal briefing produced by the monolithic internet company argued that due to a variety of issues, including the election of President Trump, the “American tradition” of free speech is no longer possible on the internet.
In the 85-page long briefing, which was given the Orwellian title of “The Good Censor,” the company admits that Google and other companies like it, now “control the majority of online conversations.”
The report also says that they, along with other tech giants, have decided to undertake a “shift toward censorship” as their way of responding to political events around the world that they are less than happy about.
Google, of course, has repeatedly denied any political bias, such as when they claimed that videos which showed them openly talking about how much they disliked President Donald Trump and had worked against his campaign didn’t show that they had a liberal bias.
In their response to the document, Google declared that it ought to be considered ‘internal research,’ rather than an official position for the company.
The briefing called the idea of free speech, unfettered and uncensored, a “utopian narrative” that was “undermined” due to recent events around the world, as well as what they decried as “bad behavior” from users.
The “Good Censor” ‘research piece’ acknowledged, outright, that the major tech platforms Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others, initially promised freedom of speech to users.
Indeed, Twitter used to call itself a bastion for free speech. Obviously, that has changed in the years since, because now conservative speech is regularly targeted on the platform.
The document also declared that the idea of free speech was “instilled in the DNA” of Silicon valley startups that now control online conversations.
The ‘internal research document’ suggests that Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other similar sites have moved away from a desire to create an unmediated and limitless ‘marketplace of ideas’ and instead changed their goal to creating ‘well-ordered’ spaces for ‘safety and civility.’
Google’s ‘Good Censor’ document also declared that one of the reasons that the company believes people are ‘disillusioned’ with ‘free speech’ is that it breeds conspiracy theories.
In particular, they pointed out the ‘conspiracy theory’ presented in a tweet from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign season, in which he declared that Google suppressed negative search results about leftist Hillary Clinton.
When he made that claim, the company responded that they suppressed negative autocomplete suggestions about everybody, not just the favored democrat.
Independent research performed by psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein showed that Google search results did, in fact, favor the DNC’s candidate in the latest presidential election.
While the monolith internet company seems to be hoping that it can downplay the document, and its contents, it certainly appears that the largest and most powerful internet organization paid someone, and paid them well, for this 81-page document.
Despite their attempt to suggest that the document is just ‘research,’ a number of recommendations in it have already been implemented in Google, or on websites that they own, such as YouTube.
They’ve even begun the task of constructing a censored search engine that will allow them, they hope, to access the Chinese market, without revealing information that the nation’s communist government doesn’t want its citizens to know.
The document also decries the fact that “have a go commenters,” normal people, are able to compete on a level playing field with ‘authoritative’ sources like the New York Times.
Truly, the entire screed reads like a business trying to rationalize its decision to take control of the ‘public discourse’ and determine, for its customers, what they can and cannot see.
If Google were to do the things in the document, they would be more like the Chinese communist government, picking and choosing what people could see, than any American federal or state agency could ever dream of being.
Breitbart outlined the information:
- P2 – The briefing states that “users are asking if the openness of the internet should be celebrated after all” and that “free speech has become a social, economic, and political weapon.”
- P11 – The briefing identifies Breitbart News as the media publication most interested in the topic of free speech.
- P12 – The briefing says the early free-speech ideals of the internet were “utopian.”
- P14 – The briefing admits that Google, along with Twitter and Facebook, now “control the majority of online conversations.”
- P15 – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is linked to Google’s position as a platform for free expression. Elsewhere in the document (p68), Google and other platforms’ move towards moderation and censorship is associated with the role of “publisher” – which would not be subject to Section 230’s legal protections.
- PP19-21 – The briefing identifies several factors that allegedly eroded faith in free speech. The election of Donald Trump and alleged Russian involvement is identified as one such factor. The rise of the populist Alternative fur Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party in Germany – which the briefing falsely smears as “alt-right” – is another.
- PP26-34 – The briefing explains how “users behaving badly” undermines free speech on the internet and allows “crummy politicians to expand their influence.” The briefing bemoans that “racists, misogynists, and oppressors” are allowed a voice alongside “revolutionaries, whistleblowers, and campaigners.” It warns that users are “keener to transgress moral norms” behind the protection of anonymity.
- P37 – The briefing acknowledges that China – for which Google has developed a censored search engine – has the worst track record on internet freedom.
- P45 – After warning about the rise of online hate speech, the briefing approvingly cites Sarah Jeong, infamous for her hate speech against white males (Google is currently facing a lawsuit alleging it discriminates against white males, among other categories).
- P45 – The briefing bemoans the fact that the internet has until recently been a level playing field, warning that “rational debate is damaged when authoritative voices and ‘have a go’ commentators receive equal weighting.”
- P49 – The document accuses President Trump of spreading the “conspiracy theory” that Google autocomplete suggestions unfairly favored Hillary Clinton in 2016. (Trump’s suspicions were actually correct – independent research has shown that Google did favor Clinton in 2016).
- P53 – Free speech platform Gab is identified as a major destination for users who are dissatisfied with censorship on other platforms.
- P54 – After warning about “harassment” earlier in the document, the briefing approvingly describes a 27,000-strong left-wing social media campaign as a “digital flash mob” engaged in “friendly counter-commenting.”
- P57 – The document juxtaposes a factoid about Russian election interference with a picture of Donald Trump.
- P63 – The briefing admits that when Google, GoDaddy and CloudFlare simultaneously withdrew service from website The Daily Stormer, they were “effectively booting it off the internet,” a point also made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the FCC in their subsequent warnings about online censorship.
- P66-68 – The briefing argues that Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are caught between two incompatible positions, the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.” The first is described as a product of the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility.” The second is described as a product of the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The briefing claims that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.
- P70 – The briefing sums up the reasons for big tech’s “shift towards censorship,” including the need to respond to regulatory demands and “expand globally,” to “monetize content through its organization,” and to “protect advertisers from controversial content, [and] increase revenues.”
- P74-76 – The briefing warns that concerns about censorship from major tech platforms have spread beyond the right-wing media into the mainstream.
Read the full briefing here.