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What Others Are Saying About the New Google Insider’s Revelations

The documents' authenticity is not in dispute. What to do about them is another matter

Yesterday, Project Veritas released hundreds of internal Google documents leaked by Zachary Vorhies, which included protocols for manipulating search engines and news, often with political goals.

So what have people been saying about that?

Well, some groups have discovered that they are on Google’s
blacklist:

The documents released by Vorhies included a “news blacklist site for Google Now” which he explained is a blacklist that restricts certain websites from appearing on news feeds for some Android Google products.

The list includes a number of websites, including The Christian Post, Newsbusters, Life News, Patheos, and Glenn Beck among hundreds of others. According to the document, some sites are listed because of a “high user block rate.”

Leah MarieAnn Klett, “The Christian Post ‘blacklisted’ by Google, whistleblower reveals” at Christian Post

Good thing somebody shared that information with them.

restricted sites/Project Veritas

One online medium attacks the leaker:

What O’Keefe’s video leaves out, though, is that his much-hyped insider is not as credible as he claims. On social media, Vorhies is an avid promoter of anti-Semitic accusations that banks, the media, and the United States government are controlled by “Zionists.” He’s also pushed conspiracy theories like QAnon, Pizzagate, and the discredited claim that vaccines cause autism.

Will Sommer, “James O’Keefe’s Google ‘Whistleblower’ Loves QAnon, Accused ‘Zionists’ of Running the Government” at The Daily Beast

Responding for Project Veritas, James O’Keefe acknowledges his source’s weaknesses but says that the real story is the substance of the official Google documents:

Not every source is a perfect angel. Good journalists know this is true. But don’t take my word for it. Read James Dygert’s book on investigative reporting: Job is not to determine source’s motive or fret over his imperfect rep, but to check accuracy of the information provided. – James O’Keefe III

Curiously, the Daily Beast account also reports, “The former YouTube software engineer believes Google is now trying to ‘off’ him” —in a manner that seems intended to discredit his belief. But most observers who watch the video of Vorhies forced to walk back and forth by armed police officers in front of his home might conclude, if it happened to them, that their chances of sudden death had substantially increased.

Epoch Times focuses on the underlying problem of determining “fairness”:

The documents Vorhies provided previously, together with his explanations and hidden camera recordings by Project Veritas of other Google employees, indicate that the company has created a concept of “fairness” through which it infuses the political preferences of its mostly left-leaning workforce into its products.

Several studies have shown that Google News, in particular, is biased to the left.

Google has repeatedly denied political bias in its products. Vorhies suggested, though, that Google tries to present itself as a neutral platform to preserve legal protection under Section 230, which shields internet services from liability for user-generated content.

“Google is playing both sides of the game,” he said. “On the one hand, they’re saying they are a platform and that they are immune from being sued for the content that they host on their website. On the other hand, they’re acting as a publisher, in which they’re determining the editorial agenda of these certain companies, and they are applying that. If people don’t fall in line with their editorial agenda, then their news articles get deboosted and deranked. And if people do fall in line with their editorial agenda, it gets boosted and pushed to the top.”

Petr Svab, “Google Engineer Leaks Nearly 1,000 Internal Documents, Alleging Bias, Censorship” at Epoch Times

Indeed. And when we get around to asking what to do, hard questions arise. If some Googlers are manipulating algorithms for political reasons, the current uncertainty about whether social media companies and search engine providers are publishers, utilities, or merely social gatherings makes it hard to be sure what, precisely, they are doing wrong.

Worse, the fact that Google’s search engine is free means that, as George Gilder puts it, the user is the product, not the customer.

Only customers can really complain. So, much as we may feel it’s unfair, we must ask ourselves why. It’s their search engine, after all, and we use it for free.

Consider a contrary example: Suppose, a century ago, you paid for old-fashioned telephone service and then discovered that the telephone company was monitoring your calls and wouldn’t connect you to persons of whom the company’s employees disapproved. Most likely, the company wouldn’t last long. But the principal reason would not be bad behavior but loss of customers.

Perhaps we cannot have a realistic discussion of the problems Google.gov creates unless we start with a willingness to pay for search engine services. That allows us to bargain as equals with respect to terms. The good news is that market economics has a way of obviating both conspiracies and credible claims about conspiracies by letting the sunshine in with respect to what people really want.


More recent news on this thread: Whistleblower says Google called police to do a “wellness check” on him. He can be seen doing a perp walk on the sidewalk in front of his house on the video; some portions transcribed here. In the documents Vorhies unearthed, Google seemed to be “intending to scope the information landscape so that they could create their own version of what was objectively true.”

Is Google a cult? Or does it just act that way? Project Veritas announces that a new rebel Googler has sent nearly 1000 documents on algorithm bias to the DOJ. While we prepare a news story on Zach Vorhies’ revelations, it may be worth asking why one of the world’s largest companies has developed what appears to be the atmosphere of a political cult.

And

Google engineer reveals search engine bias. He found Google pretty neutral in 2014; the bias started with the US 2016 election (Gregory Coppola)


Denyse O'Leary

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Ottawa, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she has published two books on the topic: Faith@Science and By Design or by Chance? She has written for publications such as The Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, and Canadian Living. She is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist'€™s Case for the Existence of the Soul. She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

What Others Are Saying About the New Google Insider’s Revelations