October 10, 2018
Breitbart has published a leaked internal document from Google entitled “The Good Censor” that says the company plans to move away from the “American tradition” of free speech and toward a European model that values “dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.”
They claim that the election of Donald Trump, along with the rise of the right-wing in general, make free speech impossible, and that the old values of Silicon Valley have to be abandoned, and a new authoritarian control mechanism forced on people.
The 85-page internal briefing states that Google and other major platforms “control the majority of online conversations” and have made a “shift towards censorship” because they disagree with the current direction of global politics.
Along with the election of Donald Trump, they cite the rise of AfD in Germany. They also mention that using an aggressive censorship model makes their product more viable in China.
The paper claims that unlimited free speech is a “utopian narrative” that cannot stand in the face of recent political events and the “bad behavior” of their own users.
They mention that all the major platform initially promised free speech, but it is something they just can no longer do.
Google responded to Breitbart after the leak, downplaying the document and saying it is not company policy but simply a briefing they commissioned.
The paper also states that Google, its subsidiary YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are no longer neutral platforms, but “editors” and “publishers.” This is problematic for them, as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act draws a sharp distinction between “neutral platforms” and “publishers.” Effectively, if these companies are publishers and not neutral platforms, than they are responsible for any and all content published on their platforms.
Despite the fact that Google claims the paper is not company policy, it certainly had a lot of money spent on it and its “layers of research.”
These “layers” included expert interviews with MIT Tech Review editor-in-chief Jason Pontin, Atlantic staff writer Franklin Foer, and academic Kalev Leetaru. 35 cultural observers and 7 cultural leaders from seven countries were also consulted.
Along with the money spent, it also appears to be completely in-line with what Google is doing already. Though they and other tech companies have repeatedly claimed that they do not censor, that they do not regulate content based on political bias, no one who has been involved with these platforms believes it.
Pontin, when interviewed for the paper, told them that it was going to be problematic that they are censoring right-wing personalities while allowing left-wing personalities to do the exact same thing right-wingers are getting punished for:
[Richard] Spencer doesn’t get to be a verified speaker; Milo gets kicked off, but I know plenty of pretty abusive feminist users or left wing users, expressing themselves in exactly the same way that the right is being penalized for, who are permitted to perform certain kinds of speech.
Furthermore, the paper shows a loathing for “have a go” commenters being able to compete with “authoritative sources,” and says that the company is already down-ranking certain content and promoting other content based on its authoritativeness.
This is possibly exactly what Trump needs to start making moves against this evil company – and all the rest of them.
This is the most important fight we are facing right now. If we had had in 2015-16 the kind of censorship we have in 2018, I don’t even know if Trump would have won. And clearly, their goal is to make sure that Trump can’t win anymore.
90% of conversations today take place online. The idea that any private entity at all should be able to control all of that is absolutely insane. There is no argument for that.
We need an Internet Bill of Rights that ensures our freedoms.
All we ever asked for was fairness in representation, and they are openly saying that we cannot have that. The only reason is that they are political companies. And you cannot be a monopoly on most forms of modern speech and also be a political activist organization. That goes against all the standards of freedom that America represents.
Furthermore, it simply demonstrates, without any question, that these people on the left are afraid of an open marketplace of ideas because they know that their own ideas will lose in such an open space.
Here is the full document.
The Good Censor – GOOGLE LEAK by on Scribd