Google News Censors Liberal Blogs

alg_google-flamesIn case there was actual doubt that Google was a powerful corporate entity biased in all the same ways as other large scale media empires, here’s a little jewel from the folks at SFGate:

Yep. You read that correctly: “Google News Politics: Anti Sarah Palin Post Gets Google Censorship.” That’s another way of saying this blogger’s Zennie62.com blog was not included in Google News after a blog post called “Will Sarah Palin Ever Shut Up?

Prior to Friday, November 19th, when that post, and others on Zennie62 for that day were included on Google News, then taken off and moved to Google Blog Search, Zennie62.com had become a major presence on Google News, outperforming many news sites, and showing a way toward a positive future for media that can be done by anyone.  A truly democratic effort.  But what’s Google News?

Google News is a news aggregator that places the “news of the day” from news websites, blogs, and now videos, into categories for content consumption by people like you and me. It was created by Google Google’s principal scientist Krishna Bharat, and launched September 2002.

According to the Online Journalism Review, Krishna’s objective was to create a news portal that helped sort through the “flood” of information produced online after September 11, 2001.

In 2003, Krishna said that Google News was “a force for democracy.”

Yeah.  Right.

Unfortunately, given the way this blogger was handled this week, that’s not true at all in 2010.

Google News has evolved to become a force for censorship, a protector of traditional news sites against the dreaded independent blogs and bloggers like me, and a breakwater against harsh, muckraking criticism of the high-and-mighty named Sarah Palin. Google News is starting to look more like a dictatorship than a representation of democratic America…

[continues at SFGate]

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Very thought provoking.

    I’m a reformed (or reform-ing) Luddite here, so some of the background your other readers take for granted may not be 100% obvious to me. That means I have a couple of probably naive questions here:

    1. Seems like Zennie62′s piece was more “opinion” than “news”, in the sense being more an interpretation of data already in the public domain than publishing previously un-published information. Is that true?

    2. Is the name “GoogleNews” a bit of a mis-nomer? Is it really a “news” AND “opinion” aggregation site, or truely a “news” only site?

    3. Are there viable alternative aggregation outlets that could provide Zennie62 with comparable distribution to GoogleNews?

    My current thought is that this is a veryyy disturbing trend, and possibly tantamount to Google endorsing Palin for 2012. But I guess I don’t know enough about the background facts here to feel sure yet.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Very thought provoking.

    I’m a reformed (or reform-ing) Luddite here, so some of the background your other readers take for granted may not be 100% obvious to me. That means I have a couple of probably naive questions here:

    1. Seems like Zennie62′s piece was more “opinion” than “news”, in the sense being more an interpretation of data already in the public domain than publishing previously un-published information. Is that true?

    2. Is the name “GoogleNews” a bit of a mis-nomer? Is it really a “news” AND “opinion” aggregation site, or truely a “news” only site?

    3. Are there viable alternative aggregation outlets that could provide Zennie62 with comparable distribution to GoogleNews?

    My current thought is that this is a veryyy disturbing trend, and possibly tantamount to Google endorsing Palin for 2012. But I guess I don’t know enough about the background facts here to feel sure yet.

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      Curse the techno-gods! Rejoice Luddites!

      Zennie’s piece isn’t really impressive…fairly generic anti-Palin twaddle really. Entirely true that its not really any new shocking revelation. Whats interesting is the editorial choice to shunt left wing articles into blogger turf and save front page space for right wing infotainment.

      2. Google does have a bit of brass calling it Google News…but technically if people are searching for their news fix they’ll use the site no matter what they title it, and some news or analysis of news can be found there…so it’s open for debate whether that ones a misnomer or not. Hell…Yahoo and most other sites do the same.

      3…probably not comparable to the linking power of Google…its pre-established popularity and squid like connections to everything and everyone else make it an unparalleled source of exposure. The idea of a mega site with such traffic deciding to tilt information access toward pro conservative causes is fairly horrifying.

      I wonder if it was a market based decision…because libs will tolerate a great deal and still make use of the site…but conservatives will flee at the first sign of dangerous information that might force them to embrace a possible thought they haven’t already had…

      • Liam_McGonagle

        ‘kay, think I got you there. Sounds like GoogleNews has disproportionate influence, but probably primarily due to laziness or inexperience of the consumer rather than some some unassailable proprietary deathgrip. What needs to happen, and you surely have a better idea of how difficult it’d be to pull it off, is to establish an alternative with comparative market penetration.

        The “News” bit may be a partial misnomer, but only in the same way that most outlets are sloppy about setting up walls between reportage and editorial.

        I’m still negotiating my way around this environment, too. If I hadn’t chanced upon a DVD of Grant Morrison expounding on his views of evolutionary consciousness I never would have heard of Disinformation. Others may have differing opinions, but on the whole it seems to offer the best, really broad cross-section of street-level (as opposed to bullshit ivory tower) thought. Well, that I personally have come across. Again, reforming Luddite here.

        It’s the only site that’s ever posted anything I’ve ever written–lameass shit like Perez Hilton seems to get a disproportionate share of ink at those other sites.

        Speaking of which, the Onion had a pretty funny parody piece about a pop culture blogger . . .

        http://www.theonion.com/articles/pop-culture-expert-surprisingly-not-ashamed-of-sel,18481/

        • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/LZNJUGQUKQ5GBYR3FZ3D4FJF7I Donald

          Sounds like GoogleNews has disproportionate influence, but probably primarily due to laziness or inexperience of the consumer rather than some some unassailable proprietary deathgrip.

          More like switching costs. Once people got used to Google’s way of classifying websites (by number of sites referencing it), it became the default search. Add in the other services (Gmail, GoogleMaps, Android, etc.) and you have an all-in-one-stop site that’s almost impossible to leave. Add in the fact that everyone uses it and other hard to quantify costs, and you pretty much have a de facto standard for search and other things.

          Here’s a non-wikipedia site that explains switching costs:

          http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/switchingcosts.asp

          • Liam_McGonagle

            Thanks, Donald. That was helpful.

            But let me be sure I get where you’re coming from. I want to be sure that I do, because I think there’s one major, unspoken element here that needs to be explicitly articulated: In order for a market to secure enough liquidity, there needs to be a firm, broadly accepted standard to measure value added by individual participants. And in the context of internet media, that means eyeballs. If I understand what you’re saying correctly, Google has provided THE standard for measuring how well any given site captures those eyeballs. It would just introduce an intolerable amount of uncertainty to abandon that central index in favor of a hoard of conflicting, contested, poorly understood and unevenly accepted alternative standards.

            This strikes me as being very similar to my notion about the way the flood of un- or under-regulated financial instruments that private sector banks churn out has ruined the integrity of the U.S. dollar.

            http://dystopiadiaries.blogspot.com/2010/11/would-henry-i-have-castrated-goldman.html

            If I have that right, Vox’s story here has some very sucky implications. It would be as if the Fed were declining to honor any transactions posted by people who oppose Sarah Palin. It’s worse than ‘Citizens United’, because at least in that case labor unions and other grass-roots populist movements had the technical ability to raise cash to compete with corporations. This, on the other hand, is just like saying, “Sorry son, but if you don’t vote loonbat Republican’t, your money ain’t no good here.”

            Hope I’m wrong, ’cause that would suck donkey nards.

        • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

          Oh, Onion…how I love thee so :-) I’ve loved that rag since it was just a scrap of paper I’d pick up in Chicago from time to time. They’ve been giving me chuckles since before I had grey hair.

    • Tchoutoye

      2. Is the name “GoogleNews” a bit of a mis-nomer? Is it really a “news” AND “opinion” aggregation site, or truely a “news” only site?

      The difference between news and views is becoming increasingly quaint in general. Take the average newspaper and roughly half of its headlines are quoting the opinions of some big-wig as if they are relevant or self-evident.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Good point. Based on responses from Disinformation readers regarding the recent Keith Olberman, Juan Williams and Scarborough time-outs, it’s clear that even relatively sophisticated media consumers don’t know or don’t care about the difference between fact and opinion in media coverage.

        Still, in my mind, those dust-ups seemed silly. In theory at least, opinion guys should not be subject to the same straightjackets as reportage guys. What those organizations needed to do was clearly designate each employee as ‘fact’ or ‘opinion’ and set different code of conduct rules accordingly, instead of blindly enforcing the more draconian (although appropriate in context) rules for reporters.

    • outrider420

      One thing non-journalists have difficulty with is separating news from editorializing or interjecting a subjective interpretation to the facts. The majority of people who write political commentary–myself included–do so precisely because we want to make our opinions known in a way that has impact like never before; however, anyone who wants their opinions taken seriously needs to be able to back them up with solid knowledge of the facts–or join the Tea Party/Republicans: then you can just make everything up as you go.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Curse the techno-gods! Rejoice Luddites!

    Zennie’s piece isn’t really impressive…fairly generic anti-Palin twaddle really. Entirely true that its not really any new shocking revelation. Whats interesting is the editorial choice to shunt left wing articles into blogger turf and save front page space for right wing infotainment.

    2. Google does have a bit of brass calling it Google News…but technically if people are searching for their news fix they’ll use the site no matter what they title it, and some news or analysis of news can be found there…so it’s open for debate whether that ones a misnomer or not. Hell…Yahoo and most other sites do the same.

    3…probably not comparable to the linking power of Google…its pre-established popularity and squid like connections to everything and everyone else make it an unparalleled source of exposure. The idea of a mega site with such traffic deciding to tilt information access toward pro conservative causes is fairly horrifying.

    I wonder if it was a market based decision…because libs will tolerate a great deal and still make use of the site…but conservatives will flee at the first sign of dangerous information that might force them to embrace a possible thought they haven’t already had…

  • Liam_McGonagle

    ‘kay, think I got you there. Sounds like GoogleNews has disproportionate influence, but probably primarily due to laziness or inexperience of the consumer rather than some some unassailable proprietary deathgrip. What needs to happen, and you surely have a better idea of how difficult it’d be to pull it off, is to establish an alternative with comparative market penetration.

    The “News” bit may be a partial misnomer, but only in the same way that most outlets are sloppy about setting up walls between reportage and editorial.

    I’m still negotiating my way around this environment, too. If I hadn’t chanced upon a DVD of Grant Morrison expounding on his views of evolutionary consciousness I never would have heard of Disinformation. Others may have differing opinions, but on the whole it seems to offer the best, really broad cross-section of street-level (as opposed to bullshit ivory tower) thought. Well, that I personally have come across. Again, reforming Luddite here.

    It’s the only site that’s ever posted anything I’ve ever written–lameass shit like Perez Hilton seems to get a disproportionate share of ink at those other sites.

    Speaking of which, the Onion had a pretty funny parody piece about a pop culture blogger . . .

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/pop-culture-expert-surprisingly-not-ashamed-of-sel,18481/

  • Anonymous

    2. Is the name “GoogleNews” a bit of a mis-nomer? Is it really a “news” AND “opinion” aggregation site, or truely a “news” only site?

    The difference between news and views is becoming increasingly quaint in general. Take the average newspaper and roughly half of its headlines are quoting the opinions of some big-wig as if they are relevant or self-evident.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/LZNJUGQUKQ5GBYR3FZ3D4FJF7I Donald

    Sounds like GoogleNews has disproportionate influence, but probably primarily due to laziness or inexperience of the consumer rather than some some unassailable proprietary deathgrip.

    More like switching costs. Once people got used to Google’s way of classifying websites (by number of sites referencing it), it became the default search. Add in the other services (Gmail, GoogleMaps, Android, etc.) and you have an all-in-one-stop site that’s almost impossible to leave. Add in the fact that everyone uses it and other hard to quantify costs, and you pretty much have a de facto standard for search and other things.

    Here’s a non-wikipedia site that explains switching costs:

    http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/switchingcosts.asp

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Oh, Onion…how I love thee so :-) I’ve loved that rag since it was just a scrap of paper I’d pick up in Chicago from time to time. They’ve been giving me chuckles since before I had grey hair.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Good point. Based on responses from Disinformation readers regarding the recent Keith Olberman, Juan Williams and Scarborough time-outs, it’s clear that even relatively sophisticated media consumers don’t know or don’t care about the difference between fact and opinion in media coverage.

    Still, in my mind, those dust-ups seemed silly. In theory at least, opinion guys should not be subject to the same straightjackets as reportage guys. What those organizations needed to do was clearly designate each employee as ‘fact’ or ‘opinion’ and set different code of conduct rules accordingly, instead of blindly enforcing the more draconian (although appropriate in context) rules for reporters.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Thanks, Donald. That was helpful.

    But let me be sure I get where you’re coming from. I want to be sure that I do, because I think there’s one major, unspoken element here that needs to be explicitly articulated: In order for a market to secure enough liquidity, there needs to be a firm, broadly accepted standard to measure value added by individual participants. And in the context of internet media, that means eyeballs. If I understand what you’re saying correctly, Google has provided THE standard for measuring how well any given site captures those eyeballs. It would just introduce an intolerable amount of uncertainty to abandon that central index in favor of a hoard of conflicting, contested, poorly understood and unevenly accepted alternative standards.

    This strikes me as being very similar to my notion about the way the flood of un- or under-regulated financial instruments that private sector banks churn out has ruined the integrity of the U.S. dollar.

    http://dystopiadiaries.blogspot.com/2010/11/would-henry-i-have-castrated-goldman.html

    If I have that right, Vox’s story here has some very sucky implications. It would be as if the Fed were declining to honor any transactions posted by people who oppose Sarah Palin. It’s worse than ‘Citizens United’, because at least in that case labor unions and other grass-roots populist movements had the technical ability to raise cash to compete with corporations. This, on the other hand, is just like saying, “Sorry son, but if you don’t vote loonbat Republican’t, your money ain’t no good here.”

    Hope I’m wrong, ’cause that would suck donkey nards.

  • Forandb

    Good example of censorship on some of these sites. Mine is on Washington Post and Wall Street where I find that as a common occurrence. One way around it sometimes is to wait for change of shift on the editors and or if their pressed for time. You can squeeze one through until they shut you out completely. Then going around to the back door works. That is why diversity is the best medicine. Sites as Disinformation and a multitude of others you can circumnavigate and throw one into them once and awhile. Light of reality will prevail here or there and will flourish if the ideology is correct.
    Imagine the problems Julian Assuage must have for example. How long would, could Joseph Goebbel survive in this communication age? Perhaps as a Fox…LOL !

  • Forandb

    Good example of censorship on some of these sites. Mine is on Washington Post and Wall Street where I find that as a common occurrence. One way around it sometimes is to wait for change of shift on the editors and or if their pressed for time. You can squeeze one through until they shut you out completely. Then going around to the back door works. That is why diversity is the best medicine. Sites as Disinformation and a multitude of others you can circumnavigate and throw one into them once and awhile. Light of reality will prevail here or there and will flourish if the ideology is correct.
    Imagine the problems Julian Assuage must have for example. How long would, could Joseph Goebbel survive in this communication age? Perhaps as a Fox…LOL !

  • outrider420

    Yesterday I noticed Google “couldn’t find” three Middle-Eastern web sites I regularly visit.

  • Outrider420

    Yesterday I noticed Google “couldn’t find” three Middle-Eastern web sites I regularly visit.

  • Outrider420

    One thing non-journalists have difficulty with is separating news from editorializing or interjecting a subjective interpretation to the facts. The majority of people who write political commentary–myself included–do so precisely because we want to make our opinions known in a way that has impact like never before; however, anyone who wants their opinions taken seriously needs to be able to back them up with solid knowledge of the facts–or join the Tea Party/Republicans: then you can just make everything up as you go.

  • http://thelimingview.blogspot.com/ John Liming783

    So far, I have not had a problem. Google is still showing in my stats as driving traffic to my own Liberal Blog. I guess the idea is to avoid any type of language in posts that might be considered as libelous,slandeous or disparagine to any person or organization. Liberals can voice dissent and issue warnings with skillfull application of the Language. I think we can do this with charachter and dignity–two characteristics often missing from some on the opposing side. Here is my own Liberal Blog for anyone interested:

    http://thelimingview.blogspot.com/

  • http://thelimingview.blogspot.com/ John Liming783

    So far, I have not had a problem. Google is still showing in my stats as driving traffic to my own Liberal Blog. I guess the idea is to avoid any type of language in posts that might be considered as libelous,slandeous or disparagine to any person or organization. Liberals can voice dissent and issue warnings with skillfull application of the Language. I think we can do this with charachter and dignity–two characteristics often missing from some on the opposing side. Here is my own Liberal Blog for anyone interested:

    http://thelimingview.blogspot.com/

  • http://thelimingview.blogspot.com/ John Liming783

    So far, I have not had a problem. Google is still showing in my stats as driving traffic to my own Liberal Blog. I guess the idea is to avoid any type of language in posts that might be considered as libelous,slandeous or disparagine to any person or organization. Liberals can voice dissent and issue warnings with skillfull application of the Language. I think we can do this with charachter and dignity–two characteristics often missing from some on the opposing side. Here is my own Liberal Blog for anyone interested:

    http://thelimingview.blogspot.com/