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Excerpt: "Using the broad and amorphous category of fake news, the aim of the change to Google's search system is to restrict access to alternative web sites, whose coverage and interpretation of events conflict with those of such establishment media outlets as the New York Times and the Washington Post. By flagging content in such a way that it does not appear in the first one or two pages of a search result, Google is able to effectively block users' access to it."

The Google logo is displayed at the Google headquarters on September 2, 2015 in Mountain View, California. (photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Google logo is displayed at the Google headquarters on September 2, 2015 in Mountain View, California. (photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


New Google Algorithm Restricts Access to Left-Wing, Progressive Web Sites

By Andre Damon and Niles Niemuth, World Socialist Web Site

31 July 17

 

n the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing “fake news,” the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly.

On April 25, 2017, Google announced that it had implemented changes to its search service to make it harder for users to access what it called “low-quality” information such as “conspiracy theories” and “fake news.”

The company said in a blog post that the central purpose of the change to its search algorithm was to give the search giant greater control in identifying content deemed objectionable by its guidelines. It declared that it had “improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates” in order “to surface more authoritative content.”

Google continued, “Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag.” These moderators are instructed to flag “upsetting user experiences,” including pages that present “conspiracy theories,” unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”

Google does not explain precisely what it means by the term “conspiracy theory.” Using the broad and amorphous category of fake news, the aim of the change to Google’s search system is to restrict access to alternative web sites, whose coverage and interpretation of events conflict with those of such establishment media outlets as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

By flagging content in such a way that it does not appear in the first one or two pages of a search result, Google is able to effectively block users’ access to it. Given the fact that vast amounts of web traffic are influenced by search results, Google is able to effectively conceal or bury content to which it objects through the manipulation of search rankings.

Just last month, the European Commission fined the company $2.7 billion for manipulating search results to inappropriately direct users to its own comparison shopping service, Google Shopping. Now, it appears that Google is using these criminal methods to block users from accessing political viewpoints the company deems objectionable.

The World Socialist Web Site has been targeted by Google’s new “evaluation methods.” While in April 2017, 422,460 visits to the WSWS originated from Google searches, the figure has dropped to an estimated 120,000 this month, a fall of more than 70 percent.

Even when using search terms such as “socialist” and “socialism,” readers have informed us that they find it increasingly difficult to locate the World Socialist Web Site in Google searches.

According to Google’s webmaster tools service, the number of searches resulting in users seeing content from the World Socialist Web Site (that is, a WSWS article appeared in a Google search) fell from 467,890 a day to 138,275 over the past three months. The average position of articles in searches, meanwhile, fell from 15.9 to 37.2 over the same period.

David North, chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the WSWS, stated that Google is engaged in political censorship.

“The World Socialist Web Site has been in existence for nearly 20 years,” he said, “and it has developed a large international audience. During this past spring, the number of individual visits to the WSWS each month exceeded 900,000.

“While a significant percentage of our readers enter the WSWS directly, many web users access the site through search engines, of which Google is the most widely used. There is no innocent explanation for the extraordinarily sharp fall in readers, virtually overnight, coming from Google searches.

“Google’s claim that it is protecting readers from ‘fake news’ is a politically motivated lie. Google, a massive monopoly, with the closest ties to the state and intelligence agencies, is blocking access to the WSWS and other left and progressive web sites through a system of rigged searches.”

In the three months since Google implemented the changes to its search engine, fewer people have accessed left-wing and anti-war news sites. Based on information available on Alexa analytics, other sites that have experienced sharp drops in ranking include WikiLeaks, Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News and Truthout. Even prominent democratic rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International appear to have been hit.

According to Google Trends, the term “fake news” roughly quadrupled in popularity in early November, around the time of the US election, as Democrats, establishment media outlets and intelligence agencies sought to blame “false information” for the electoral victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

On November 14, the New York Times proclaimed that Google and Facebook “faced mounting criticism over how fake news on their sites may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome,” and they would be taking measures to combat “fake news.”

Ten days later, the Washington Post published an article, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” which cited an anonymous group known as PropOrNot that compiled a list of “fake news” sites spreading “Russian propaganda.”

The list included several sites categorized by the group as “left-wing.” Significantly, it targeted globalresearch.ca, which often reposts articles from the World Socialist Web Site.

After widespread criticism of what was little more than a blacklist of anti-war and anti-establishment sites, the Washington Post was forced to publish a retraction, declaring, “The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings.”

On April 7, Bloomberg News reported that Google was working directly with the Washington Post and the New York Times to “fact-check” articles and eliminate “fake news.” This was followed by Google’s new search methodology.

Three months later, out of the 17 sites declared to be “fake news” by the Washington Post ’s discredited blacklist, 14 had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent, and some sites saw their global reach fall by as much as 60 percent.

“The actions of Google constitute political censorship and are a blatant attack on free speech,” North stated. “At a time when public distrust of establishment media is widespread, this corporate giant is exploiting its monopolistic position to restrict public access to a broad spectrum of news and critical analysis.”


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Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-07-31 09:06
This is really quite interesting. The major news sources in the US -- NYT, Wapo, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS -- are all failing. Their ad revenue is way down and reader/viewersh ip is also way down (CNN is up but only because it was drastically down. Russiagate has given it a temporary bump, as it has to MSNBC).

These major media are really nothing more than megaphones for US corporations, the intelligence agencies, and the military industrial complex. They are propaganda vehicles.

Because the internet has given so many people access to very good sources of news and very many non-US news sources, the US mainstream media is getting to be largely understood for what it really is and always has been -- fake news in the service of the American Deep State. People are walking way from it.

So the knee-jerk response is to shut down the internet and access to alternative sources of news. The Pentagon and CIA are taking out after Russian news such as RT, Rputnik, and others. Google is marginalizing internet sources that don't conform to its NYT-centric guidelines.

Mainstream media failed to persuade Americans that "Russiagate" was real and it will fail in its attempt to censor alternative news sources. What will happen to the biggest media like the NYT or Wapo is that they will go the way of the LA Times or Chicago Tribune -- all celebrity gossips and cooking recipes. See this -

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/31/in-the-flailing-new-york-times-recipe-or-confession/
 
 
0 # elizabethblock 2017-07-31 11:00
DON'T BE EVIL???
 
 
+4 # dotlady 2017-07-31 11:04
This is censorship - the Washington Post has a large contract with the CIA, and the major search engines, here for example, Google, work in cahoots with the powers that be. This prevents ANY chance at learning new information or seeking a different explanation of events than the ritual "national narrative" one. Google - tis a pity.
 
 
+4 # ronnewmexico 2017-07-31 11:08
This is true. However the viewership to alternative media in formats such as You tube within googles domain continues to skyrocket.

So what they are doing in one form in one area may seem to suceed but by far and large is miserably failing.

Thye tried to stop that on you tube as well by varioius means of fee interruption but patreon endeavors have stopped that.

It has grown to large this other side to stop.
The young turks, secular talk, Jimmy Dore even Democracy now on you tube, their numbers have spiriled upward.
And now on occasion by supscription and viewership rival main stream media.
To late to the show google.

You tube search is also confounded but it does not stop this thing.
Water cannot be stopped by means such as stamping out of it. This moverment is as water and google trying to stamp it out.
No luck you will have with that.

A thing once learned does not unlearn. We are here already google. Confound us and we just find other means of communication.
 
 
+4 # chapdrum 2017-07-31 12:00
Completely consistent with what is known (and routinely ignored) about Google.
 
 
+3 # tedrey 2017-07-31 15:04
On issues like "Russian electoral interference", how does one decide whether it is "the New Tork Times and the Washington Post" on the one hand, or "WikiLeaks, Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News and Truthout" on the other which are spreading "conspiracy theories and fake news"?

A major clue for me is to read the foreign press, eliminating whatever simply reprints Armerican (or Russian) sources. I find that roughly two-thirds of the world media, depending on their own independent sources, view the NYT/WashPo reports and opinions as dubious.
 
 
+3 # lorenbliss 2017-07-31 15:23
Google is not the only Internet censor.

Email is likewise politically censored.

For example, neither AOL nor Hotmail will allow their subscribers to receive any email from me.

This is intended to suppress my blog, "Dispatches from Dystopia," which is outspokenly Marxian, anti-Capitalist and anti-JesuNazi. ("JesuNazi" is my unflinchingly accurate label for the malevolently theocratic white Christians who now, with the weaponized Biblical Capitalist fanaticism provided them by their sole ownership of the Trump/Pence Regime, increasingly tyrannize us all.)

Meanwhile the email censorship has also permanently cut me off from a number of relatives and friends, people with whom I can now communicate only by snail mail or telephone.

Were I wealthy, I could perhaps sue. But as an impoverished person, the (rich white man's) courts and their judicial remedies are permanently denied me.

And of course -- as with any sort of "security" measure in this de facto Fourth Reich -- these anonymously imposed obstructions are truly forever, no reconsideration , no appeal.
 
 
+5 # librarian1984 2017-08-01 12:22
Hi, Loren. Yeah I had trouble trying to contact you through your blog.

I think this is another thing that makes Sanders remarkable -- what he accomplished with all the DP establishment, the DNC elite and the msm out to thwart him. We can see they're already starting in on him again.

Maybe if we can get him in, get more progressives in, we can solve many of these insidious problems.

Perhaps we could sell the CIA to the highest bidder. Let them go 'help' somebody else for a change.

Sorry for your troubles. Best wishes.
 
 
+1 # randrjwr 2017-08-03 10:32
I just checked out your "Dispatches from Dystopia" blog. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do--you are saying a lot of what I have been thinking but have been too lazy to write.
 
 
+1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-07-31 15:27
While I deplore what Google Search is doing, complaining about how bad Google is while continuing to use it only proves you’re a snowflake. The article calls Google a monopoly. It is not. It’s just another overgrown, should never have been allowed to buy so many different companies company.

Fixing this is easy. Obviously, too easy for snowflakes. They’d rather have a meltdown.

Change your default browser to DuckDuckGo. What do you give up? Bells and whistles, many nice, none critical. What do you gain? DDG doesn’t track you. They don’t keep YOUR info or YOUR searches. They keep EVERYONE’S searches so they can fill in your request for you in case you are looking for the same thing as someone else already did. Put “socialist” in DDG and you get a slew of stuff on socialism (I assume because most people want more info on that than on actually being a socialist) followed by info for “socialist”.

As for the World Socialist Web Site, until today, I’d never heard of it. THEY may think they are all the rage, on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but they are not. Nevertheless, put “world socialist” in DDG and the first hit is the WSWS.
 
 
0 # Caliban 2017-07-31 15:56
As a test, I tried opened the "World Socialist Web Site" at 5:30 pm (or near about) and it came up quickly and opened easily.

So, there is either some lame reporting here or Google has re-located its dedication to free speech.
 
 
+3 # ReconFire 2017-07-31 17:24
Don't like being censored, so By By Google.
DuckDuckgo anyone?
 
 
+2 # RLF 2017-08-01 05:20
I'd like to know what happened to Brietbart's searches in the same period. Some comparison would be useful.
 
 
+3 # lorenbliss 2017-08-01 10:41
I enthusiasticall y second the motion toward DuckDuckGo; been using them for at least two years.

But Google is unavoidable in some circumstances, such as their ownership of Blogger.

For some reason I do not understand, Blogger is the only gateway through which my European readers can access by blog.

My original server, and since 2011 my primary server, is TypePad, which is apparently not directly accessible in most European countries.
 
 
+1 # dotlady 2017-08-01 11:05
Seemingly being off-point or frowned upon by not being given a comment sign in my earlier comment about censorship, maybe I should modify it to say that the burial of references by google makes it more difficult but not impossible to find new information or a different slant, just more difficult. There are ways around google as people have rightly suggested, and the spirit of independent journalism still exists, but as always powerful forces are trying to squelch it.
 
 
+1 # LionMousePudding 2017-08-02 10:58
This is really big. And bad. And I suppose it was inevitable.

Maybe it's time to use a different search engine.
 
 
-1 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2017-08-02 11:30
We must teach each other to keep our browsing free and guided by our own choices.

I am not able to replicate the censorship mentioned in the article using Google AS I HAVE IT SET UP. You do NOT need to let Google make choices for you. It's a setting you accept or do not accept. I trust Google for this reason. Yes, they try crap on you now and then...but it CAN easily be kept clean with all searches directed by YOU. Review your settings.

I've used Duck-Duck-Go, which does have a good reputation in this way, but honestly don't recall why I long since stopped using it. Troubled me somehow at some point, but might have just been a usability issue and not a choice issue.

For browsing, I use only the Mozilla Firefox platform. Mozilla aims to keep the internet free and open. They are diligent about keeping crap out and not forcing junk onto your machine.

I do not use Microsoft's browserson my Windows machine; takes too much effort to keep it clean.

I use McAfee Internet Suite. I do not click on crap links. I have Office 365 delivering unrecognized mail to Junk and so I can see sender and subject line before any content is opened, letting me mass delete junk I do not want

I just searched "socialist organizations in the united states." The organization noted in this article was right there along with a lovely, long list of organizations run by, for and with our brothers and sisters who stand for democracy, equity, and solidarity. Member DSAUSA.org
 

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