Google’s censorship will affect us all
Published: 18 August 2017 (GMT+10)
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.
I remember making a technical complaint on a couple years back to the effect that the search prompt was no longer working for me on the basis that it went to Google, and I had disabled Google scripts on my system for, among other things, exactly the reasons given in this article. When Google's privacy issues were opened wide by a certain Edward Snowden in 2013 June, I immediately switched to DuckDuckGo, an engine whose agenda is privacy, and makes no effort to build a filter bubble around any of its users. It also includes referer-proof redirect, so that with a default browser with referers turned on (the 'r' is missing on purpose, remember to misspell it just that way if you're looking in your about:config now to turn it off) so that the page you're clicking on doesn't find out what you searched. E.g. if you searched for "Google site:creation.com" on DuckDuckGo and got this page, CMI has no clue what search string you typed, which wouldn't be the case if you typed "DuckDuckGo site:creation.com" into Google.
I highly value the reminder of the vulnerability of any ministry in the light of this data. I believe it behoves us to be gracious & careful that the ministry of CMI & creationists in general is not unnecessarily discredited by unkind & inaccurate comments. CSLewis identifies evolution as a myth but then adds "treat the Myth with respect." We might add echoing his sentiments, They love the myth take the blindfold off gently. Paul comments that our speech needs always to be gracious seasoned as it were with salt. Col 4 :6. The challenge is to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
I learnt this quote only yesterday: "The greatest power of the Press is the power to ignore" (or delete) (truth or facts.)
Search algorithms are complicated beasts. In terms of who decides what is authoritative - the algorithm does (that's the whole point). Last time I looked that algorithm consisted of 200 signals but it's probably a lot more now. It's also trained, for better or worse, to learn about "you" and what "you" consider to be authoritative.
The whole reason that Google adjusts it is because the algorithm can be gamed from time to time.
If Google doesn't consider CMI authoritative (and I'd be surprised if it doesn't) I'd suggest you have a look at your own SEO first before calling out result tampering and making what really are unfounded speculations. One thing I will say is there are other apologetics sites out-ranking you these days for some things ...
While it's possible there may be some more sinister plot afoot, I can't say that you've hit a six with this article.
Yes, algorithms are complicated, but that is not the point of my article. What if "you" consider holocaust-denial websites to be authoritative? Google will override you and hide those results, according to their own statements. Obviously denying the Holocaust is foolish and wrong, but that's immaterial; Google has now openly declared itself "world thought police". Where will they decide to go next? Where else have they already gone? Why, for example, are Christians like Dr. Michael Brown on YouTube having their videos demonetized en masse?
Since you have not really engaged with the substance of my points here, I cannot say that you have "hit a six" with this comment.
I think this also goes to show the importance of anti-trust laws. Most Christians are wise enough to be afraid of the government restricting religious freedom, but they remain unaware that corporations in a capitalist world economy can be just as powerful as the government.
I can't help but wonder, with the number of intelligent, educated people who are conservative, Patriots, who also love the Lord, why can't someone put together another search engine to compete with Google. I don't believe it is not feasible or possible, it would just require good old fashioned initiative. I would gladly use a different provider of that service if it were different than Google, Bing, or any of the other worldly services that exist, to date.
Some Christian leaders sound the alarm that, because of political correctness and discrimination, to download their videos and podcasts before they are removed entirely. Goolag is a big part of this, and there have been other reports about suppressing search results.
Oh, and tracking? I was using the annoyingly-named DuckDuckGo for a video search, and when I clicked on a YouTube link, I received a warning that anonymous viewing is not allowed, you *will* be tracked. Still, there are browser extensions that claim to block tracking by Google and Facebook.
On my websites as well as on FB, I share creation science material. But I am also an undesirable because of writing "incorrect" views of science and theology, so search results for my own material that links to yours is not helping you a great deal.
I do believe this is going to happen very soon. So I believe it is so important to make a habit of reading and meditating on the Word of God being led by His Holy Spirit. I even see the day when the world will charge into people's homes to see if they own a copy of The Bible, and if they find one, well, you can pretty much fill in the blanks as to what will happen to that home and family.
I've stored most of CMI's website, on multiple HP 1 TB flash drives over a several year period because of the concern of this article. However, the kind of turmoil the world is headed for may impact us in ways, such as power grid issues, that make my ability to use my computers and drives a problem itself. All that believers can do is make the best use of their time in getting the gospel out while they have time, and pray, and support CMI.
Wow! Nice work.
Welcome to 1984...
It's quite hypocritical of them, really. Yet Jesus promised he was building his church, and all of these events are part of his master plan to strengthen us as he builds.
I am going to start putting Creation Magazine all over! Google may consider themselves to be a "giant" in this world, but if they step into the ring and try to square off against the Truth, they will be swinging against a Giant, they can't hit. They will lose without a doubt. Ephesians 6:12-13 comes to mind. The truth of Scripture continues to be demonstrated.
That's the right spirit! God bless.
One more Scripture to add to your conclusion:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
Honestly i stopped using Google and have started using DuckDuckGo and some other people have started using other search engines as well.Sadly though its not just google,facebook takes down anything that they consider is "hate speech".I wouldn't be surprise if Christian haters started abusing that.
Great piece. Totally agree. I've found with Wikipedia, which seems to be largely funded and run by Google employees, and which regularly appears top of searches, that if you are persistent, gracious (even in the face of their abuse) and have your reasoning well organised, eventually you will win. If you do a bit of search testing and then give them feedback in polite, longsuffering, patient ways, they usually give in. The position of creation.com at the top of 'creation' searches is testimony to this.