Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?
Without a doubt. And you don’t have to look any further than what big tech has done when it comes to conservative speech on the internet.
Thankfully, conservatives aren’t taking this laying down, as Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s scorching takedown of monolithic tech titan Google during a congressional hearing Wednesday proves.
“I want to talk about search [functions on Google], because that’s an area where I know Google has real market dominance,” Gaetz said while questioning Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
“You said, ‘We don’t manually intervene on any particular search result,’” Gaetz said in reference to a Dec. 11 hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee.
“But leaked memos obtained by the Daily Caller show that that isn’t true. In fact, those memos were altered Dec. 3 just a week before your testimony and they describe a ‘deceptive news blacklist.’”
No, that’s not the name of a new CBS procedural show. That is allegedly the list that Google uses to decide what you, the reader, should and should not be privy to.
Gaetz also brought up Google’s “fringe ranking” and followed up with a quintessential question that big tech has yet to answer sufficiently.
“Who gets to decide what’s ‘fringe?’” Gaetz posited.
The Daily Caller memos that Gaetz referred to outline a process that appears to be teeming with manual input, as opposed to the self-functioning, algorithmic method that Google would have you believe is involved in its blacklisting process.
“The beginning of the workflow starts when a website is placed on a watchlist which is used for monitoring of sites to determine if they violate the Good Neighbor Policy. This watchlist is maintained and stored by Ares with access restricted to policy & enforcement specialists working on the Good Neighbor Policy,” part of the memo reads, according to the Daily Caller. “The investigation of the watchlist is done in the tool Athena, the Ares manual review tool, and intakes signals from Search, Webspan, and Ares in order to complete reviews.”
So, Google doesn’t “manually intervene” in the blacklisting, but they reportedly have a manual review tool? How does that work?
Pichai insisted that Google “algorithmically” uses its censorship tools, and that the tech titan doesn’t “manually tune” search results.
Curiously, Pichai said that if a website or actor is deemed to be “interfering in elections,” Google has to put that site on a list so it doesn’t appear on search queries.
When Gaetz pressed Pichai on whether or not that process is done manually, Pichai initially couldn’t offer a substantive answer. When pressed further, Pichai made his bombshell admission.
“There is either a manual component or there is not a manual component, which is it?” Gaetz asked.
“For creating those lists, that process can involve a manual portion,” Pichai replied, in stark contrast to his previous claim that there is no manual intervention.
Gaetz then went for the jugular.
“It seems to be no coincidence that it’s sites like Gateway Pundit, The Western Journal, American Spectator, Daily Caller and Breitbart that receive the ire or the negative treatment as a consequence of your manual tooling,” Gaetz said.
The Republican representative wasn’t done.
“You said that one of the reasons you maintain this manual tool is to stop election interference,” Gaetz said. “I believe it is in fact your company that is engaging in election interference.”
Pichai offered a flaccid defense of that “characterization” and tried to hide behind the “law” and “known copyright violations” as justification for his company’s censorship tactics.
Given that Pichai is undoubtedly an intelligent individual, his lacking defense should speak volumes about what big tech really thinks about conservatives and, on a broader scale, the lack of intelligence that they think Americans have. They don’t believe you have what it takes to discern fact from fiction, and instead of empowering the reader, they’re just going to think for you.
Good for Gaetz to hammer them on that absolute folly of a belief.