Google’s censorship will affect us all
As no doubt all who read this article are already aware, Google is the world’s largest and most successful internet conglomerate, built originally around a web-search tool. After succeeding in producing the most-used search engine for the internet, Google has continued to expand into more and more areas. Google is now a powerful monopoly, controlling massive shares of all the internet’s most-used and most important features. For example, here are some of the latest figures I found for Google’s market share:
When you stop to consider what most people use the internet for, you will notice that Google has a massive share in all three of the top internet features: searching, emailing, and watching videos. In fact, Google controls over three-fourths of both searches and videos, and is second only to Apple in terms of the number of people using their email services. What this all means is that whatever policies Google decides to adopt basically govern the entire direction of the world online. This is a massive amount of power to be wielded by any one organization!
Bias, Search Result Tampering
You might think that such a powerful and far-reaching organization would strive to be philosophically and religiously neutral, given the highly diverse audience they serve. Sadly, this is far from being the case. It is well-documented that Google, as an organization, is just about as agenda-driven as they come.4 Famous communist dictator Joseph Stalin made a lucid observation about human nature: “Whoever occupies a territory also imposes on it his own social system. Everyone imposes his own system as far as his army can reach.”5 It is wholly naive to think that an organization with a clear agenda would not utilize the power they possess to advance the interests of that agenda. In 2016, this manifested with allegations that Google had been actively tampering with its search results.6
Most recently, Google has made headlines by firing one of their own engineers, James Damore, for posting an internal memo questioning the company’s ‘party line’ concerning feminism and workplace sexual diversity. He had the audacity to suggest that there might be real biological differences between men and women!7 Damore has since stated that Google functions like a cult: “For many, including myself, working at Google is a major part of their identity, almost like a cult with its own leaders and saints, all believed to righteously uphold the sacred motto of ‘Don’t be evil.’”8
The Creation Connection
As biblical creationists, all this should be deeply troubling. Our position (denying Darwinism and believing the Bible) is one that the mainstream establishment considers to be ‘fringe’ and ‘extremist’. Note the language used on Google’s own blog concerning the recent changes to their search algorithms:
Ranking changes: We combine hundreds of signals to determine which results we show for a given query—from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search queries appear on the page. We’ve adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content, so that issues similar to the Holocaust denial results that we saw back in December are less likely to appear.9
This amounts to an open admission of censorship by Google in their search results algorithms! How, exactly, will it be determined which websites are “authoritative” and which sites are “low-quality”? Would they, for example, consider creationist sites like our own to be “low-quality”? I think they almost certainly would. In the past, for example, Google has featured an homage to human evolution in their famous homepage ‘doodle’.10 This means there may come a point in the future where we can no longer depend on people being able to search for our articles through the world’s most-used search engine.
I know of no easy answers to these troubling developments, but one thing is for sure: we need your grassroots efforts now more than ever. Do you have friends or relatives that are unbelievers, or Christians who are confused about Genesis? Don’t be afraid to talk to them about these things. Share the Gospel with them, and direct them to our website for answers on creation/evolution and other related topics.
One thing must never be overlooked: God is sovereign over all of history. No matter how much Satan may appear to be winning the war, God and His people will ultimately triumph.
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.
(Psalm 37:1-2, 12-13)
Update 7 September 2017
Some relevant information has come to my attention which was not known to me at the original time of writing. Google has made public the internal guidelines used by their evaluators to judge search results quality. Buried deep in this document on page 108 is this innocuous statement11:
The following should also be rated Fails to Meet because they lead to very poor and upsetting user experiences:
● Pages that directly contradict well-established scientific or medical consensus for queries seeking scientific or medical information, unless the query indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.
This confirms the suspicions I had voiced previously: Google is now making it their mission to hide from searchers any results that would contradict mainstream viewpoints (this would include, as mentioned above, scientific ‘consensus’ like evolution)— unless the searcher specifically indicates as part of their query that they are looking for non-mainstream answers. How often does this realistically occur?
Based on the above guidelines, we should expect (as this policy gets enforced more and more over time) that Google searches like:
“How old is the Earth?”
“Is evolution true?”
“When did dinosaurs live?”
… and so forth, would only ever retrieve mainstream evolutionary results. In order to find a creationist answer to such questions, one would now presumably need to type something like:
“Is evolution true creationist view”
This is an extremely troubling development because it is a subtle means of preventing non-consensus views like ours from ever reaching the public at large. Hopefully people will wake up to this and begin utilizing alternate search engines which do not attempt to shape the results into an echo chamber of self-reinforcing information. I will leave it to the reader to determine what search engines might be better alternatives.
References and notes
- Latest Search Market Share Numbers: Google Search Up Across All Devices. searchenginejournal.com. 31 August, 2016. Return to text.
- Lewkowicz, K. April Email Market Share: Mobile Rises To 56%, Its Highest Point Yet. litmus.com. 10 May, 2016. Return to text.
- Leading multimedia websites in the United States in November 2016, based on market share of visits. statista.com. Accessed 14 August, 2017. Return to text.
- Richardson, V. Google, Facebook, Reddit are run by a bunch of ‘left-wing guys’. washingtontimes.com. 13 June, 2016. Return to text.
- Joseph Stalin. en.wikiquote.org. Accessed 14 August, 2017. Return to text.
- Richardson, V. Google accused of manipulating searches. washingtontimes.com. 9 June, 2016. Return to text.
- Olson, W. Google memo drama really is about free speech. usatoday.com. 9 August, 2017. Return to text.
- Shinal, J. Fired Google engineer James Damore says company is ‘like a cult’. cnbc.com. 11 August, 2017. Return to text.
- Gomes, B. Our latest quality improvements for Search. blog.google. 25 April, 2017. Return to text.
- Kaufman, S. Evolution Google Doodle Angers Creationists, Scientists. vocativ.com. 24 November, 2015. Return to text.
- Schwartz, B., Google Releases The Full Version Of Their Search Quality Rating Guidelines. searchengineland.com. 19 November 2015. Return to text.