Google escalates blacklisting of left-wing web sites and journalists

horiz-long grey

HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

By Andre Damon, wsws.org
Dateline: 20 October 2017


In a sweeping expansion of its moves to censor the Internet, Google has removed leading left-wing websites and journalists from its popular news aggregation platform, Google News.

At the time of publication, a search for “World Socialist Web Site” on news.google.com does not return a single article published on the WSWS. A search for the exact title of any of the articles published during that period likewise returns no results.

Over the past seven days, news.google.com has referred only 53 people to the World Socialist Web Site, a 92 percent decline from the weekly average of over 650 during the past year.

A Google News search for an article from Thursday’s edition of the WSWS returns no results

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges informed the WSWS Wednesday that his articles had ceased appearing on Google News. Hedges said the change occurred after the publication of his interview with the World Socialist Web Site in which he spoke out against Google’s censorship of left-wing sites.

“Sometime after I gave that interview, they blacklisted me,” said Hedges. “If you go into Google News and type my name, there are six stories, none of which have anything to do with me.”

A Google News search for Chris Hedges returns no relevant results

“I write constantly. Previously, Google News listed my columns for Truthdig and my contributions to Common Dreams and Alternet, as well as references to my books,” Hedges said. “But now it’s all gone. And I’m certain it’s because I spoke out against the Google censorship.”

Commenting on the step-by-step nature of the censorship regime being created in the United States, Hedges said, “If you look at any totalitarian system, their assault on the press is incremental. So even in Nazi Germany, when Hitler took power, he would ban the Social Democrats’ publications for a week and then let them get back up. He wouldn’t go in and shut it all down at once.”

Google appears to have kept an older version of its news aggregator available online, accessible by visiting google.com and clicking the “news” link below the search bar. That version of the news aggregator, which appears to be in the process of being phased out, lists 254,000 results for the search “World Socialist Web Site.”

A similar search returns 89,600 entries for “Chris Hedges.”

The changes to Google News mark a new stage in a systematic campaign of censorship and blacklisting that has been underway at least since April, when Ben Gomes, the company’s VP of engineering, said Google was seeking to promote “authoritative” news outlets over “alternative” news sources.

Since then, thirteen leading left-wing web sites have had their search traffic from Google collapse by 55 percent, with the World Socialist Web Site having had its search traffic plunge by 74 percent.

“Just speaking as a journalist, it’s terrifying,” Hedges said. “Those people who still try and do journalism, they’re the ones getting hit; especially those journalists that attempt to grapple with issues of power and the corporate state.

“This shows not only how bankrupt the state is, but how frightened it is,” Hedges said.

“Google is developing ever more intensive methods of targeting, aimed at blocking any dissenting critical voices,” said David North, the chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site.

“This is an unprecedented attack on free speech. In the history of the United States, censorship on this scale has never been imposed outside of wartime,” he added, pointing to the blocking of Trotskyist publications during World War II.

Hedges noted the precedent of political repression during World War I. “In the name of national security, for the duration of the war they shut down The Masses,” a left-wing, antiwar journal.

The intensification of Google’s crackdown on left-wing sites takes place against the backdrop of a sharp acceleration of the anti-Russian campaign led by congressional Democrats, together with sections of the Republican Party, the US intelligence agencies and leading news outlets.

On Thursday, Democratic Party senators Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar introduced the first piece of legislation to come out of the campaign surrounding the claim that Russia sought to “meddle” in the 2016 election by “sowing divisions” within American society, an unproven conspiracy theory aimed at creating a justification for Internet censorship.

A summary of the bill obtained by Axios stated that it requires “online platforms to make reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate,” and to maintain a database of political advertisements supposedly bought by foreigners.

In his remarks announcing the bill, Warner made clear that his aim was to use it as the starting point for more aggressive restrictions on free speech on the Internet. “What we want to try to do is start with a light touch,” Warner said.

Commenting on the step-by-step nature of the censorship regime being created in the United States, Hedges said, “If you look at any totalitarian system, their assault on the press is incremental. So even in Nazi Germany, when Hitler took power, he would ban the Social Democrats’ publications for a week and then let them get back up. He wouldn’t go in and shut it all down at once.”

“Google is involved in an out-and-out political conspiracy, in coordination with the government,” North said. “A secret censorship program has been created that is directed against opponents of American foreign policy. This is an illegal assault on constitutionally protected rights.”

Hedges added, “I can tell you from having lived in and covered despotic regimes, I think we’ve got to ring all of the alarm bells while we still have the chance, because they’re not going to stop.”

 


About the Author
The author is a senior political analyst with wsws.org, a socialist publication. 
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ANDRE DAMON—Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges informed the WSWS Wednesday that his articles had ceased appearing on Google News. Hedges said the change occurred after the publication of his interview with the World Socialist Web Site in which he spoke out against Google’s censorship of left-wing sites.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.




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The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 

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One thought on “Google escalates blacklisting of left-wing web sites and journalists

  1. COMMENTS FROM ORIGINAL THREAD
    Skip • 2 hours ago
    The wsws should create a mirror sight with a different name. Every time they post an article to the wsws it also goes to the other sight. But on the other sight you have links to the in clever ways.

    Skip • 2 hours ago
    The lines are being drawn, the battle is coming.

    Skip • 2 hours ago
    Didn’t Socialists learn from the Russian Revolution that you can never deal with the provisional government . In other words that you can never deal with liberals. They are always right there ready to throw you into the fire.

    The working class must move straight to power at every chance.

    U.S. and them • 4 hours ago
    The One Per Cent are getting very, very nervous.
    And what happens when socio/psychopaths get nervous?
    Extreme prejudice.
    The Truth Omission is only the beginning.

    Rapha • 5 hours ago
    Sen Mark Warner, a former owner of a telecom firm and a multimillionaire who represents Virginia’s massive defense industries and high tech contractors, is a potential Democratic nominee.

    Todd Smekens • 5 hours ago
    I agree with Chris Hedges and also believe much of the censorship on alternative media is legacy media influences who are grappling with declining subscriptions and lack of trust.

    They really don’t want competition in our “free market”. I’ve been told Google’s censorship program entails confirmation with legacy media in the vicinity. I went from Google News to now a blog.

    When both political parties and the media are owned by the corporate state, I’m not sure why we put up any pretenses about what this country is no longer – a representative republic.

    FireintheHead • 6 hours ago
    To be expected . Google will have blood on its hands as surely as they who pull a trigger , press a button.

    Try as they may to control the political order of things , they cannot be exempt from the centrifugal forces of things greater than themselves.

    We shall see .

    Skip FireintheHead • 2 hours ago
    We learnt from the Bolshevik Revolution that no matter how hard the ruling class tries to stop the advance of history, they eventually fail.

    Steve Brown • 6 hours ago
    The US ruling class and its allies have been conducting an undeclared world war for a long time, not only against its national rivals but also the worlds working class yet few seemed to have noticed. This is not surprising as the bourgeois press have until recently had a monopoly on news, on editorial control, on choosing what to publish or not to. The internet explosion changed all that, democratising free speech and giving outlet to critical exposure of capitalist classes oppression and wars. It revealed the bourgeois press to be the source of “fake news” of the cover-ups, the dissemination of false provocations and of surreptitious justifications. The US is currently involved in forty wars across the world. It is threatening nuclear war against Russia and China, its military spending is at an all time high, legions of refugees victims tramp the world. “defensive war” is being promoted under cover of defending nation state and democracy to turn working class opposition to war and to the ruling class, into national defense and justification foreign invasions, nuclear war and any permit any obscenity for defence of the ruling class.

    John Upton • 7 hours ago
    With the implementation of internet censorship and a totally servile media it will not be long before political opponents disappear and that’s it. Silence.
    The world knows of the disappearance of 43 Mexican school teachers. Not even crimes of that nature will get reported and disseminated in the future.

    лидия • 7 hours ago
    I have just tried to look for wsws in yandex news and found a lot of articles citing wsws in Russian. Looks like wsws in Russian is a fairly popular source, about Google censure too, by the way.

    K SHESHU BABU • 8 hours ago
    Slowly but surely, the rulers are trying to get a firm grip over journalists and journalism by weeding out left- minded scribes in whatever way possible. Unless protests start now and the the advance of such websites blocking freedom of expression, the opposition may be crushed and leftist opinion may be throttled. Internet is a growing outlet of social media opinion exchange and unless this is saved, the rulers will dominate over people’s voices. Hence, a mass upsurge to stop such measures is essential

    grok • 8 hours ago
    Revolution is indeed a Baptism By Fire.
    1

    Bankotsu • 8 hours ago
    I didn’t know that Google was that shameless.

    My views of Google changed after reading this article.

    Google is nothing but the dog of the U.S. ruling class.

    Sebouh80 • 9 hours ago
    The blacklisting of Google of left wing websites and journalists comes at a time when there is a growing dismay of the decaying American bourgeois political system which in recent years has become the embodiment of imperial wars and growing social inequality levels to levels not seen since the 1930s. In any case, during the 1950s with the start of the Cold War era Senator Joseph McCarthy became an important figure for the system to silence and intimidate all those opposing voices in America whom he had described them at that time as Bolshevik sympathizers intended to takeover the American way of life. Now a similar dynamic is being unfolded with the American search engine giant Google in censoring all those progressive voices for not being able to reach out to their masses. In this sense Google is now serving as a useful tool for the American ruling establishment.

    Reyter • 9 hours ago
    I just uninstalled the Google News app. It felt good and I should have done it sooner. Still looking for an alternative to the search engine. Yandex is good but when one searches for “Russian Revolution”, the first news site they link to is BBC!!! Surely some kind of stupid joke but I’m not laughing.

    U.S. and them Reyter • 3 hours ago
    Duckduck go is a reasonable, but far from perfect, alternative.

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