Another Google document has found its way into the public domain, this time through Breitbart. The news publication reports that an 85-page briefing entitled “The Good Censor,” advises tech companies to “police tone instead of content” and to not “take sides” when censoring users.
This must be why Activist Post remains censored on YouTube and the wrongful suspension still hasn’t been removed, along with other accounts that were removed, or further why Iran has had 39 YouTube channels deleted. It must be Google’s “new position as ‘moderators in chief.’” (page 70)
The document, which can be read in full at Breitbart, admits in writing that big Silicon Valley companies including Google have shifted toward censoring users, moving away from their original values. Moreover, the mission to “create an unmediated ‘marketplace of ideas’” has become a plan by tech companies to “create well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.” (page 67)
As former Google PR rep Jessica Powell expressed, this is “creating serious problems in disguise of bettering the world.”
“We go about saying that we’re building these amazing things and doing great things for the world but we’re also causing a lot of serious problems,” Powell said.
Once again an internal leak within Google gives a rare glimpse into the company and its mindset.
Responding to the Breitbart leak, a Google source said the document should be considered “internal research, and not an official company position.”
The scary thing is that the document does not recommend a return to the original principles of “don’t be evil” (a phrase Google killed). Instead, the briefing file leaves the question open, suggesting Google may “shift with the times.”
However, the document recommends increased transparency to smooth over the process from free speech to censorship (or liberty to tyranny, one could say), according to the report. So anyone who has heard of George Orwell knows where our future is headed.
Google might continue to shift with the times – changing its stance on how much or how little it censors (due to public, governmental or commercial pressures). If it does, acknowledgment of what this shift in position means for users and for Google is essential. Shifting blindly or silently in one direction or another rightly incites users’ fury.
The Google “internal research” even quotes outside experts like George Soros who express justification of censorship in non-U.S. markets, noting that Google should police “tone instead of content” and “censor everyone equally,” as Breitbart put it.
It’s worth noting that George Soros was also involved in funding the “bullshit detector” a fact-checking engine backed by the Full Fact foundation, as Activist Post reported in 2017.
The document also proposes “behavior guidelines for users.” This is reminiscent of a leaked 2016 video to The Verge earlier this year, entitled “The Selfish Ledger” from within Google X that exposed an internal Google dialogue to create a dystopia run by the big social giant. The revelation showcased the other big problem the company faces — questions about harvesting its users’ data.
With that leak, the company’s dystopian future it seeks to achieve is exposed. The 9-minute video goes on to describe how Google could keep a ledger of all human behavior and then use it to manipulate your decisions and those of future generations. All with the ultimate goal of pushing the company’s values, offering services and products, and basically dictating the behavior of entire populations.
That video was dismissed as just a concept “meant to provoke discussion,” as well or in other words, “internal research.”
Then there is the most recent leak involving plans to implement a censored version of its search engine inside China, code-named “Dragonfly,” and suppressing the internal memo about it. Further, if that’s not enough, the company wants phone numbers linked to the searches.
Finally, in May, Activist Post reported that Google had removed multiple references to its old catchphrase “Don’t be evil” from its Code of Conduct. Employees expressed outrage over the company’s decision to work with the Pentagon’s Project Maven, including signing a petition, with some even quitting.
This caused Google to walk back the plans, denouncing support for Maven by stating that the company would not be renewing the military contract and would stop in 2019.
However, as Activist Post reported, the agreement was already signed, so the company is locked in for another year until the contract runs out in March 2019. Google can then legally stop assisting the government with the advancement of artificial intelligence for use with its drones, a nightmarish scenario that brings glimpses of the movie The Terminator to mind.
These leaks offer a rare glimpse into the types of conversations and the views the company might be having, as well as aligning with many of Google’s existing products that use AI; for example, suggesting routes in Google Maps, organizing albums in Google Photos, and even composing automated emails in Gmail.