GOOGLE, FACEBOOK BIAS TOPIC OF NEW DOCUMENTARY
If you don’t try this yourself, you’re not likely to believe it:
Into the Google search box, type the words “top races Republican,” and Google will helpfully suggest you are looking for the word “racist,” not races.
Then, type in “top races Democrat” and Google will suggest the best places to donate to Democrats.
The bias of Google and Facebook are much discussed in conservative circles, but it’s anecdotal. Conservatives already self-edit for social media platforms to avoid having their accounts suspended or banned. Conservatives talk about how their accounts were suspended by Facebook or about conservatives who are banned by Twitter.
Alex Jones of Infowars is the most famous recent example of a conspiracy theorist who has been kicked off the social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter.
Laura Loomer is a more recent example: She is a Jewish activist who had 260,000 followers on Twitter. But she’s a critic of Islam. When she criticized the religion of newly elected Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and her Muslim faith for being homophobic and anti-woman, Loomer was banned from Twitter permanently.
Now, a new documentary explores the bias of Google and Facebook, and with the acceleration of the bans on conservative speech, it’s worth a look.
The Creepy Line documentary explores the difference between “fake news,” which is a visible form of propaganda, with the more pervasive ranking of information by Google and Facebook.
The title of the film comes from a comment made by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, who said, “There’s what I call the ‘creepy line,’ and the Google policy about a lot of these things is to get right up to the creepy line but not cross it.”
The Creepy Line documentary premiered in New York and Washington, D.C. in September, and is scheduled for release this month in select theaters and is now available through Amazon and iTunes.
Robert Epstein, one of the principals in the documentary, explains that, “Google crosses the creepy line every day”.
Epstein has a PhD in psychology from Harvard University and is the former editor of Psychology Today. He is at times a commentator for National Public Radio’s Marketplace program, and is a prolific author who has gotten into very public scrapes with Google over its bias.
In 2012, Epstein blasted Google for a security warning places on links to his website. The warnings blocked his site for serving what Google said was malware.
He continues to say that Google’s search engine manipulation is a problem serious enough that it could rig a presidential election.
“Perhaps the most effective way to wield political influence in today’s high-tech world is to donate money to a candidate and then to use technology to make sure he or she wins. The technology guarantees the win, and the donation guarantees allegiance, which Google has certainly tapped in recent years with the Obama administration,” he said.
The documentary also interviews psychologist and University of Toronto Professor Jordan B. Peterson; and Peter Schweizer, an investigative journalist, author, and political consultant, who is president of the Government Accountability Institute, on the topics of data privacy, neutrality, and the steering of the political conversation.
Whether Google and Facebook should be regulated is a question that the independent filmmaker, M.A. Taylor, doesn’t try to address, but hopes the film opens up the conversation about how much control Google has over us, when our very lives have been made into the commodity that Google has monetized for the benefit of its shareholders.
Google does steer business, that much is established. In 2017, the company was penalized with a record fine from the European Union for promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results. The fine was $2.42 billion, which is the amount of profit that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, made during the first five weeks of 2017.
“These guys are integrated into our everyday life. So if you come along and break up a Google, what does that mean for all the platforms that link all of our communications together,” M.A. Taylor said in a recent interview with The Christian Post.
“This isn’t a Standard Oil. Or a Microsoft, even. This is a company where we are the actual product. I would say that we don’t know, but we need to start evaluating and this film is really the beginning of that conversation.”