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The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

a book by Tim Wu

(our site's book review)

Could the Web—the Entire Flow of American Information—Come to Be Ruled by a Corporate Leviathan in Possession of "the Master Switch"? (Google Is Currently Trying to Possess That Switch)

The Amazon book description on this book says: Analyzing the strategic maneuvers of today’s great information powers—Apple, Google, and an eerily resurgent AT&T—Tim Wu uncovers a time-honored pattern in which invention begets industry and industry begets empire.

It is easy to forget that every development in the history of the American information industry–from the telephone to radio to film–once existed in an open and chaotic marketplace inhabited by entrepreneurs and utopians, just as the Internet does today. Each of these, however, grew to be dominated by a monopolist or cartel. In this pathbreaking book, Tim Wu asks: will the Internet follow the same fate? Could the Web–the entire flow of American information–come to be ruled by a corporate leviathan in possession of "the master switch"? Here, Tim Wu shows how a battle royale for Internet’s future is brewing, and this is one war we dare not tune out.

[Wu] "advocates not a regulatory approach but rather a constitutional approach that would enforce distance between the major functions in the information economy—those who develop information, those who own the network infrastructure on which it travels, and those who control the venues of access--and keep corporate and governmental power in check. By fighting vertical integration, a Separations Principle would remove the temptations and vulnerabilities to which such entities are prone. Wu' s engaging narrative and remarkable historical detail make this a compelling and galvanizing cry for sanity--and necessary deregulation—in the information age."—Publishers Weekly

Into the [technology] chaos comes a 'great mogul' to impose order—to control the Master Switch to information and technology: 'Markets are born free, yet no sooner are they born than some would-be emperor is forging chains.'
Into the [technology] chaos comes a 'great mogul' to impose order—to control the Master Switch to information and technology: 'Markets are born free, yet no sooner are they born than some would-be emperor is forging chains.'

"A veteran of Silicon Valley and professor at Columbia University, Wu is an author and policy advocate best known for coining the term net neutrality. Although the Internet has created a world of openness and access unprecedented in human history, Wu is quick to point out that the early phases of telephony, film, and radio offered similar opportunities for the hobbyist, inventor, and creative individual, only to be centralized and controlled by corporate interests, monopolized, broken into smaller entities, and then reconsolidated. Wu calls this the Cycle, and nowhere is it more exemplary than in the telecommunications industry."—Booklist

Tim Wu is an author, policy advocate and professor at Columbia University, currently serving as Senior Advisor to the United States Federal Trade Commission. In 2006, he was recognized as one of fifty leaders in science and technology by Scientific American magazine, and in the following year, 01238 magazine listed him as one of Harvard’s one hundred most influential graduates. He writes for Slate, where he won the Lowell Thomas gold medal for travel journalism, and he has contributed to The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Forbes.

Siliconvalley
A veteran of Silicon Valley and professor at Columbia University, Wu is an author and policy advocate best known for coining the term net neutrality

Communication Evolution

"Those industries [telephone network, the movie industry, the Internet, and broadcasting] had innovative, entrepreneurial beginnings, promising great things for society. There is a rocky growth and development period as the technology becomes better, may encroach on other businesses and finally reaches critical mass. Into the chaos comes a “great mogul” to impose order — to control the Master Switch to information and technology: 'Markets are born free, yet no sooner are they born than some would-be emperor is forging chains.' . . . Wu’s cycle has a backside also, in which another disruptive technology, or a public-spirited government, breaks up the mogul-driven business model, and the Cycle starts anew." Wu warns us that various entities will sieze control of the Internet if we don't prevent it, [and then Big Brother will appear, the Net will go from free to costly, there will be a ceasing of innovation, and other nightmares will ensue]—according to the history of communications technology. (Source: The Master Switch by Tim Wu — a Masterful Guide to Our Internet World, Art Brodsky, Huffington Post)

Wu warns us that various entities will sieze control of the Internet if we don't prevent it
Wu warns us that various entities will sieze control of the Internet if we don't prevent it

We Need a Constitutional Approach to the Information Economy

"As an object lesson in the way information networks can develop, it gives us occasion to consider what we truly want from our news and entertainment, as opposed to what sort of content we might be prepared to sustain, however passively, with our fleeting attention," says Wu. "The American political system is designed to prevent abuses of pubic power. But where it has proved less vigilant is in those areas where the political meets the economic realm, where private economic power comes to bear on public life...We like to believe that our safeguards against concentrated political power will ultimately protect us from the consequences of accumulated economic power. But this hasn't always been so. . . . For history shows that in seeking to prevent the exercise of abusive power in the information industries, government is among those actors whose power must be restrained. Government may function as a check on abusive power, but government itself is a power that must be checked. What I propose is not a regulatory approach but rather a constitutional approach to the information economy. By that I mean a regime whose goal is to constrain and divide all power that derives from the control of information."

Wu proposes not a regulatory approach but rather a constitutional approach to the information economy—a regime whose goal is to constrain and divide all power that derives from the control of information
Wu proposes not a regulatory approach but rather a constitutional approach to the information economy—a regime whose goal is to constrain and divide all power that derives from the control of information

Wu examines the split between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, with Jobs tending towards closed, controlled systems and Woz favoring an open platform in computers. Jobs was right in that Apple is the richest company around, but Woz was right in that the open nature of PC platforms inspired innovation and cheap computers for the masses, which lit a fire under Internet access for the masses as well, turning the global village into the connected and networked global village.

Very successful Apple II, exemplifying Woz's ideas of open platforms in computers
Very successful Apple II, exemplifying Woz's ideas of open platforms in computers


Macintosh 128k transparency
The original Macintosh computer with a closed, controlled system, which Jobs preferred

Wu's Warning: Organizations with Their Own Best Interests at Heart (e.g., Google) Wish to Dictate What We Can and Cannot Learn

An Amazon reviewer, Robert J. Hard, says Wu's book explains why our information superstructure is in the midst of a titanic war for control. This war will determine in the most radical terms whether we can continue to hope to be a free society—where pretty well anyone can find out pretty well anything—or slide backward into a passive information lumpen proletariat where organizations with their own best interests at heart will dictate what we can and can not learn. Once we get dictated to by some authoritarian, Fourth Reich demagogue who is too big for his britches and believes he knows what is best for us better than we ourselves know, we are all in deep doodoo. Freedom, democracy, rights, integrity—all depend on our having the sense to keep the Internet free.

One reviewer believes Wu's book is the last word on the the history of electronic communications (true), the last word on the men behind the control of it (partly true), and the last word on the politics and power struggles underlying it (partly true). These technological devices and media industries are critical factors underlying how we form our perceptions of the world. Wu grasps the overt, well known aspects of the power struggles, but there is a deeper level he never dealt with, probably because Vintage—part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which in turn is owned by Pearson/Bertelsmann (aka Penguin Random House)—would have censored the truths we refer to in this paragraph. It is today’s foremost trade paperback publisher and its publishing list spans influential works of world literature to cutting edge contemporary fiction and distinguished non-fiction, but anti-establishment, leftist, or liberal titles are not really their thing. They do not mind controversial (e.g., they publish the classic Lolita) as long as it isn't too progressive—questioning the powers-that-be, like intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and Bill Moyers.

Wu dealt with mostly the politically correct, conventional info acceptable to the mainstream media. Avoid controversy or prevent mainstream publication. The book is quite good and could have found a small publisher (like progressive Berrett-Koehler Publishers, distributed by Penguin Random House Publisher Services but Penguin Random House itself wouldn't publish establishment-bucking tomes) that didn't mind bucking the established rules of what is okay and what will get one slapped down by Corporatocracy/CIA censors if it ends up in mainstream media.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1989-034-21, Warschau, Parade vor Adolf Hitler
If we ever lose our alternative media websites and publishers like Aternet.org, or if we let Trump's demagoguery get out of control, all is lost and fascistic stormtroopers will be goosestepping their way to our door

Wu doesn't seem to understand either technology or the Internet in some critical ways. He appears to mistakenly believe that the Internet's tendency toward decentralization is because of our cultural values rather than because of the technological and business realities that dominated when these systems were designed. Wu's separations principle is a good idea—broader and more encompassing than net neutrality. It is a two-parter: the separation of platforms and content, including limits on the relevant vertical and horizontal corporate structures to empower this. Media conglomerates are problematic (for democracy and freedom of the press) because there are only a handful in this country and their ownership involves many overlapping conflicts of interest. Worse, the owners all made a deal with the devil a century ago, and they employ filters that serve not the public interest but the interests of the CIA, the owners, the politicians, the oligarchs, the military-industrial complex, the elite neocons in charge, and the shadow government in charge. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion, Democracy—an American Delusion, and The Shadow Government.

A truth filter is applied by the mainstream press to please the government, the neocons, the corporatocracy and CIA censors; most countries have filters but we like to think the U.S. doesn't because the media says we don't
A truth filter is applied by the mainstream press to please the government, the neocons, the corporatocracy and CIA censors; most countries have filters but we like to think the U.S. doesn't because the media says we don't

Wu doesn't seem to understand the real controllers of the media, nor the real censors of the media either. There are simply too many aspects of his book that are spewing the CW (conventional wisdom) and the propaganda we have been spoon-fed for many decades. What really happened in Central and South America and Iran and Africa in the last century varies greatly from our mainstream media's account of these happenings, which makes them propaganda distributors, not news organizations, and certainly not the watchdogs of democracy. A truth filter is applied by the mainstream press to please the government, the neocons, the corporatocracy and CIA censors. Most countries have filters but our citizens like to think the U.S. doesn't have them because the media says we don't. But what else WOULD the media say about themselves when they are corporatocracy lapdogs rather than the watchdogs they claim to be and that we need them to be?! It is a good thing we have an alternative press who the corporatocracy doesn't sway so that we get watchdogs like Alternet which is better than nothing. The trouble is, Google has declared an unprovoked war on all these progressive sites—by far the worst and most naive and ignorant action they've ever taken in the history of their company. What does democracy even mean if the big G makes their sites unfindable?

The mainstream media are corporatocracy lapdogs . . .
The mainstream media are corporatocracy lapdogs . . .


. . . rather than the watchdogs they claim to be
. . . rather than the watchdogs they claim to be

Google's Threat to Democracy Hits AlterNet Hard

"Google's Threat to Democracy Hits AlterNet Hard. In late June, Google introduced a new algorithm aimed to fight fake news. It sounded like a good idea—until it became clear that Google was targeting progressive news sites fighting racism and fake news. Many progressive sites were hit, but none more than AlterNet, which lost 2.4 million readers this summer, compared with the past two-and-a-half years. That's a lot of lost impact." Please DONATE to this wonderful site before democracy, freedom, freedom of the press, privacy, and rights all go the way of the dodo bird (an extinct flightless bird).

It would help a lot if Google got letters and calls explaining that Alternet.org has the realest news in the U.S. and that fake news most often comes from the mainstream media or actual fake news sites built in Second or Third World countries (e.g., Macedonia) to exploit Google for money, and not progressive sites like AlterNet.org. Tell them that opinions unpopular with the mainstream media are MORE likely to be real news than those expressed on the mainstream media, which consistently sells out to untrue establishment propaganda generated by greedy, misguided neocons. Alternet.org news is as real and worthy as it gets, and the people at Google need to readjust their algorithm on an emergency basis! Alternet.org does more to protect our democracy, freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, privacy, and rights than all the mainstream media sites put together.

Oxford Dodo display
Please DONATE to this wonderful site, Alternet, before democracy, freedom, freedom of the press, privacy, and rights all go the way of the dodo bird (an extinct flightless bird)

Google, Shockingly, Doesn't Understand How Journalism or Democracy Works

Google is a monopoly on steroids. They don't understand how journalism works. The true "watchdogs of democracy" will often express unpopular opinions that go against the government's party line. THIS MEANS THEY ARE DOING THEIR JOB, Google! As most of us know, the Kochs are spending huge fortunes to push climate denialism and Trump played right into their hands. So will this mean that Google will begin de-indexing environmentalism sites as fake news because Big Money is pressuring them to do so? Only denialism sites are real news and all else is fake news?! That is what will happen if Google keeps using their algorithm in its current biased, naive, reductionistic form. They really need to dump the ridiculous idea that non-mainstream opinions and unpopular opinions are fake news! Google, would you like a perfect example of fake news? "Iraq has WMDs so let's go over and attack them, unprovoked. Let's start a war because they'll build nukes and soon there will be mushroom clouds over Manhattan!" THAT, Google, is the truly fake news your algorithms need to catch. Or "Hillary is running sex rings from pizza parlors." That's another example. Please stop penalizing great sites like Alternet.org for doing what the mainstream media often just won't do—tell the truth in the post-truth era!

Googleplex-Patio-Aug-2014The Googleplex—Google's headquarters

What if Einstein's relativity theory happened today instead of a century ago and its initial rejection by scientists was seen as a sign of it being fake news? How could science progress if search engines held it back to avoid charges they were spreading fake news?! Criticism of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity was expressed in the early years after its publication in the early twentieth century, on scientific, pseudoscientific, philosophical, or ideological bases and some of these criticisms had the support of reputable scientists. They were the CW of 1906 and 1915 when Einstein's theories appeared. Should CW (conventional wisdom) and popular opinion dictate search algorithm policies? Google has a civic responsibility to empower freedom of speech, diversity, and democracy by supporting everyone's right to express opinions, even "heretical" opinions like "Newton's Laws about gravity are not 100% accurate" (due to the ramifications of general and special relativity because of Einstein's radical new views of space and time which included the bending of space itself due to gravity as well as increases in mass as objects reached speeds near light speed, neither of which Newton could have forseen). E=mc² was seriously brilliant. Would Google de-index a website for claiming this was the new truth in physics? The relativistic equivalence of mass and energy changed a lot of things—especially because of how it inspired the creation of nuclear bombs. Newton's Laws were just fine for non-relativistic speeds, but not so fine when things were moving at relativistic speeds. Google's current algorithm would de-index an Alternet article championing E=mc², therefore Google's algorithm is contrary to its civic duty to protect our democracy, freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, privacy, and rights in general.

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

Half the people in Congress are supporting radical, non-mainstream, rightwing views like "humans are not causing climate change" (the scientists have proved that we are) so surely their fake-ideas-supporting sites will get de-indexed, right Google? And Bernie Sanders is supporting radical leftwing views where he supports socialism and says the U.S. is an oligarchy (true), so his site must go, too, right Google? There are thousands more examples of people in politics not taking mainstream positions, and millions more examples of people NOT in politics not taking mainstream positions. Does Google not see that the mainstream media's positions on things gave us eternal war since 2003, and the only chance our nation has to survive this century is if there are NON-mainstream positions discussed and presented? Google is tromping on free speech and democratic dialog by killing off NON-mainstream positions. If Google doesn't believe in democracy—which utterly depends on a free press that expresses both popular AND UNPOPULAR social, cultural, and political positions to remain viable—then what DO they believe? Google, please tell us all what your alternative is to a vibrant democracy where people are free to discuss whatever they want and blog about NON-mainstream political positions? Honest—we'd all love to hear it. Note that when fascism occurs or 1984 begins or the rest of our rights disappear and we hear stormtroopers approaching our houses like in 1930s Germany, Google will have been one of the causes, since when democratic freedoms disappear, fascism will be quick to fill the void and Google's radical rightwing purge of progressive websites is the first carpet-bombing on their war on freedom and democracy. Nature abhors a vacuum. Political vacuums never persist.

Half the people in Congress are supporting radical, non-mainstream, rightwing views like 'humans are not causing climate change' so surely their fake-ideas-supporting sites will get de-indexed, right Google?
Half the people in Congress are supporting radical, non-mainstream, rightwing views like 'humans are not causing climate change' so surely their fake-ideas-supporting sites will get de-indexed, right Google?

If Google Prevents Citizens from Learning the Truth of Our History, History Will Keep Repeating Itself Because We'll Learn Nothing from It

See The Concise Untold History of the United States wherein it says: The authors report that occasionally the U.S. would do something benevolent in the world—sometimes unintentionally. "But more often . . . they would leave [behind] misery and squalor. The record of the American Empire is not a pretty one. But it is one that must be faced honestly and forthrightly if the United States is ever to undertake the kind of fundamental structural reforms that will allow it to play a leading role in advancing rather than retarding the progress of humanity."

"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media."—William Colby, former CIA Director

Aerial view of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters, Langley, Virginia - Corrected and Cropped
The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media

"It's been clear for some time that US journalism is being strangled by the very structures it's intended to stand watch over. For the sake of survival, U.S. media has allowed itself to be refitted into a machine that serves the very forces that are gutting the earth and stripping away our liberties. Outlets that once produced crucial content have gone the way of Darth Vader, carving out their humanity and autonomy to serve the empire. . . . we have to challenge ourselves, our publications and our readers to dream beyond brain candy headlines and government press releases, and engage with the truth of our times." (Source: What Does "Independent Media" Mean? Birthday Contemplations From the Truthout Staff)

Noam Chomsky is an important linguistic theorist and social writer who, in Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, looks at how elites maintain political power through propaganda that distorts and confuses major issues. Elites consider it necessary to deliberately mislead us with second-hand facts and knowledge that do not challenge us with the veracity of news or the so-called official truth espoused in them. Everything that will be said by the news establishment will ultimately conform to the government/business line of what should be the truth. One need not guess as to why "they" want to shut "us" up—because the elitists need the tacit consent of a passive and uninformed public to perform the duty of running a corrupt nation. Even in democratic societies, newspapers and magazines are just propaganda tools for the big business advertisers that support them. Corporate money has humongous clout and if you want to stay in the journalism business, you don’t rock the boat.

Noam Chomsky—the wisest and most insightful and important intellectual alive
Noam Chomsky—the wisest and most insightful and important intellectual alive

Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power is one of the most important books (and films) ever written, but it has some non-mainstream ideas. Will you be dumping it from your search results? That would be very ignorant. It is by Noam Chomsky, beloved around the world for the strength of his personal commitment to the truth as he sees it and for the brilliance of his ideas. He has been called the wisest and most insightful and important intellectual alive. It is a coherent narrative of the corruption of our American socio-economic-political systems. According to Chomsky, the first principle of concentrating wealth and power is to reduce democracy. You rich people at Google—is this what you are up to? Reducing democracy in order to have yet more power and wealth? Your misguided actions say this is true. Will you be de-indexing this web page because it exposes the overall nature of your recent pre-fascist actions?

The greed of a few are dictating the misery of the many and the utter failure of democracy as a system of governance—the elites are burying democracy 6 feet under
The greed of a few are dictating the misery of the many and the utter failure of democracy as a system of governance—the elites are burying democracy 6 feet under

Will Google Rename Itself "Mainstream Media's Lapdog"?

Perhaps you simply don't realize the implications of the radical, unenlightened step of de-indexing all the more progressive sites, Google. Read this page until you see the light, please. You folks are much smarter than anyone else on earth about search engines. But not about democracy, freedom of the press, or journalism. We are much wiser than you folks about these areas, as is Chomsky, Bill Moyers, etc. Trust us, folks—just because you know search does NOT mean you know that much about democracy, freedom of the press, or journalism. This is not a slam or insult. It's just a fact, a fact that the whole world is learning as they see your shockingly naive campaign of terror against progressive ideas, progressivism, and progressive websites. You folks are a SEARCH ENGINE, not intellectual giants that know what information has value and what doesn't. The fact that you believe progressive websites are worthless is an indictment of your level of understanding of our world, which turns out to be levels of magnitude lower than anyone would have guessed.

Google, we beg you to reconsider your current misguided course of being the internet's censor making sure that nothing of substance shows up in search results
Google, we beg you to reconsider your current misguided course of being the internet's censor making sure that nothing of substance shows up in search results

We beg you to reconsider your current misguided course of being the internet's censor making sure that nothing of substance shows up in search results. Nothing controversial or challenging or non-mainstream. Don't you people realize that this will change the SERPs into propaganda for the status quo, the CW, the prevention of change or progress or even the discussion of possible ways to change things? One-sided info is propaganda. Only examining all sides, especially the sides that Alternet.org examines, is an information database of knowledge. We surely wish you people would study books on democracy and what keeps it healthy. We also wish you people would study books on journalism and what keeps it healthy.

Corporate money has humongous clout and if you want to stay in the mainstream journalism business, you don’t rock the boat; however, non-mainstream reporters in alternative journalism are not afraid of the truth even if it ruffles a few feathers
Corporate money has humongous clout and if you want to stay in the mainstream journalism business, you don’t rock the boat; however, non-mainstream reporters in alternative journalism are not afraid of the truth even if it ruffles a few feathers


The non-mainstream reporters in alternative journalism are not afraid of the truth even if it ruffles a few feathers
The non-mainstream reporters in alternative journalism are not afraid of the truth even if it ruffles a few feathers

"With search engines providing a key way people consume information, it is obviously problematic if they can both decide what the truth is and label content as the truth. This power might not be abused now, but there is no guarantee of the safe governance of such organizations in the future. . . . Google’s ability to algorithmically determine 'facts' has been called into doubt. Last week, Danny Sullivan on Marketing Land gave several case studies where Google gets it wrong (sometimes comically) and outlines some of the challenges of algorithmically determining the truth based on the internet. . . . Of course, Google should not be defining what the truth is. Having the power to both define veracity and present it back to society concentrates power that could be abused in the future." (Source: How Google is tackling fake news, and why it should not do it alone, Ian Bowden, searchengineland)

Neither progressive nor regressive sites are fake news, but Google seems not to be able to grasp this fact
Neither progressive nor regressive sites are fake news, but Google seems not to be able to grasp this fact

"Last year, Google engineers outlined in a research paper how they might incorporate a truthfulness measurement into the ranking algorithm. But can that really be done? Can a simple algorithm separate truth from fiction? . . . The problem for Google is that much of their algorithm relies on the authority of a site and inbound links to that website." (Source: The trouble with truth, Janet Driscoll Miller, searchengineland)

If a site has few inbound links it may mean they spend little on SEO but it doesn't necessarily reflect on the worth of the site, the quality of the writing, or the truthfulness of its facts. If Google makes the huge error of thinking few inbound links means the site is crummy, they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Long ago they floated the idea that good sites will get lots of links naturally without SEO money getting spent. After 20 years of constant serious Internet use, we know for a fact that this is not the case. Many fine sites have few inbound links and are not ranked that well. Assuming that all good sites will be able to afford marketing and SEO money is foolish. Millions of small sites are small budgeted or no budgeted. Surely that is obvious. But not to Google? We hate to say it, but this means if you do not give the big G marketing money, you will end up ranking low, getting de-indexed, or classified as fake news—a self-serving situation to be sure.

If Google makes the huge error of thinking few inbound links means the site is crummy, they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater: it is simply not true
If Google makes the huge error of thinking few inbound links means the site is crummy, they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater: it is simply not true

Okay, let's look at this logically. Google is starting to use fact-checking sites to determine if websites are news or fake news. But since "facts" relate to "authority" and backlinks, then Bush and Cheney and Powell, when they were the biggest "authorities" around (President and Vice President and Secretary of State) and sites related to them would have lots of authority and they all told us Saddam had WMDs, then that was the fact and the truth and all else was fake news. Google would use fact-checking sites to determine if websites are news or fake news. Those site would see the WMDs claim as a true claim and Cheney made sure to do the talk show circuit promising the claims were true, saying we had to get them or face mushroom clouds over Manhattan. He kept saying this stuff—all lies—until the people, now scared, supported an invasion of Iraq. Then our military attacked. The longterm consequences of this unprovoked international military aggression we now know to be horrible beyond imagination: 20 trillion dollars of debt, millions of lives ruined or ended, a country wrecked, destabilizing the Middle East, wrecking U.S.'s reputation forever, the majority of the world seeing us as a bigger problem than any or all of the so-called terrorists, and ISIS—the eternal gift that just keeps on giving.

Google would de-index web pages that did not report the Saddam-had-WMDs lie as fact and give top billing to the lie purveyors that backed Bush and Cheney and Powell's lies
Google would de-index web pages that did not report the Saddam-had-WMDs lie as fact and give top billing to the lie purveyors that backed Bush and Cheney and Powell's lies

So Google would de-index web pages that did not report the WMD lie as fact and give top billing to the lie purveyors that backed Bush and Cheney and Powell. Alternet.org would tell the real truth about the con that was being pulled on the U.S. by these warmongering empire building neocons who, it later turned out, were dying for any excuse to go get their hands on Iraqi oil and they wanted a pretext to invade and they didn't have one so they made one up. But Google's algorithms would tell them to penalize or de-index Alternet.org or most of its pages and posts—especially the ones that told the truth about the WMD con!

Bush and Cheney were dying for any excuse to go get their hands on Iraqi oil and they wanted a pretext to invade and they didn't have one so they made one up
Bush and Cheney were dying for any excuse to go get their hands on Iraqi oil and they wanted a pretext to invade and they didn't have one so they made one up

And this would be more than a massive FAIL on the part of Google's anti-fake-news algorithms. It would devastate all search results that presented versions of reality that did not tow the party line and bow down to the CW (conventional wisdom). This means that search results would be intensely biased toward the CW which would be given to the media as White House press releases or recycled CIA memos, so all the reporters that actually did investigative journalism and learned the truth would have their reports either de-indexed or put on SERP page 97. Soon there would be no investigative reporting at all as the reporting would never see the light of day.

The end result of the Party in power dictating search results would closely resemble the Orwell novel 1984 as well as the fascist evolution of 1930s Germany. Google's equating CW with truth or bizarrely deciding that not towing the party line was the same as being a dirty liar deserving de-indexing would signal the death rattle to freedom of the press and soon democracy itself. See Freedom of the Press—an American Delusion and Democracy—an American Delusion.

Will Google rename itself as Mainstream Media's Lapdog? If the only SERP results that end up on page one are CW pages and posts from White House/CIA/government-approved sites, where does democracy go? Where does rational online diiscussion go? Where does civic discussions that look at all sides of issues go? If Iraq having WMDs is the conventional wisdom (assuming it happened in 2017) from the "authorities" and "fact"-checkers, and Google shows only this on the first page, how does the U.S. make rational decisions that will have an extreme effect on the world forevermore when, according to the big G, the WMDs "fact" is the only wisdom there is, with everything else being fake news? The Ministry of Information is really the Ministry of Disinformation in 1984.

In 1984 the Party persecutes individualism and independent thinking as a 'thoughtcrime', which is enforced by the 'Thought Police'
In 1984 the Party persecutes individualism and independent thinking as a 'thoughtcrime', which is enforced by the 'Thought Police'

In 1984, the Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war (e.g., the U.S. went to Iraq to "democratize" it—a baldfaced lie), the Ministry of Truth with lies and propaganda (duh!), the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink (like the "Patriot" Act which dumps some of our rights). The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect.

Okay, Google, if in 2017 the investigative reporters tell you of WMDs in Iraq being a lie from the "authorities," but the "authorities" like Cheney and Bush call it truth and you side with the "authorities" which you claim to be proud to be doing, then how are you different from the Ministry of Truth which spread lies and propaganda but no truth? The answer: there is but one difference—you spread lies unintentionally while they did it intentionally. But do you REALLY want to be responsible for the next Iraq invasion because your faulty algorithms "told you to do it"—like Adolf Eichmann's Nazi Holocaust excuse: "I was just following orders."? Dumping progressive reporting will lead to very unbalanced democratic dialog, which in turn will lead toward demagoguery, rightwing takeovers, disapperaing freedoms, and worse.

Freedom, freedom of the press, rights, democracy, and freedom of speech will all be swirling the drain if Google continues on its misguided antiprogressive rampage
Freedom, freedom of the press, rights, democracy, and freedom of speech will all be swirling the drain if Google continues on its misguided antiprogressive rampage

Google needn't get out of the search engine business, but woe unto us all if they think they are smart enough to differentiate truth from lies and real news from fake news. The road to hell is paved with good algorithms. At least Google THOUGHT they were good until they ended up colluding with a 21st century fascism where The Ministry of Information is really the Ministry of Disinformation and propaganda is truth and truth is fake news and freedom, freedom of the press, rights, democracy, and freedom of speech are all swirling the drain as Google claims "I was just following our algorithm's results." But, Google, if freedom is really gone, you will have been nationalized (stolen by government fascists) and you will now be intentionally lying and propagandizing and you really will be renamed The Ministry of Information which all will realize is doublethink for The Ministry of Disinformation!

We seriously beg you to rethink your lame attempt to be arbitrars of truth and fake news! You are in WAY over your heads—no algorithm will ever do it, nor will crews of average workers. Truth for atheists is "God does not exist." Truth for Christians is "God exists." Which one will you be calling fake news at best or liars at worst?!

Here's an idea: Stop labeling differences of opinion and different perspectives as real news versus fake news, truth versus lies, and right versus wrong. Stop trying to judge these things with your thought police. If they see a truth they are disturbed by they dump the site. That is damned foolishness. Noam Chomsky would be able to judge the value of a disturbing truth. But he's the wisest guy around. Your people are just opinionated college grads (?) who are only adequate to the task of figuring out that Hillary's pizza parlor sex ring is nonsense. But the Hillary-hating rightwingers working for you won't be able to resist the temptation to let that one slide. But half your people voted for her so they'd dump that fake news site in 2 seconds. So the odds are 50-50 Google will even get that right. Harder judgments will be a crap shoot where you may as well have them flip a coin. Are you seeing why this censorship idea is a nonstarter? Censor child porn, hate speech, racism, violence inciting, terrorist propaganda and let the rest sort itself out on its own, as you've already clearly demonstrated just how inadequate your people are at being censors by the whole "dump everything progressive" fiasco. Don't feel bad: there is no organization on the planet that could do a fair and effective job of censorship, anymore than there is an algorithm that could do it!

One other thing: the fastest way to lose your Google users to Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Ask.com, or AOL.com is to turn your users away by wrongheaded campaigns of terror against progressive sites, since half of all citizens lean progressive, and if searches turn up crap rather than their favorite progressive sites, THEY WILL SOON DO THEIR SEARCHES ELSEWHERE! They want search, not foolish censorship from misguided amateurs. See Google Is the World's Biggest Censor and Its Power Must Be Regulated.

The fastest way for Google to turn into the devil . . .
The fastest way for Google to turn into the devil . . .


. . . is by trying to play God
. . . is by trying to play God

"If Google cannot determine what is, and what is not, news content, then by definition it cannot distinguish between fake and genuine news. . . . How can Google distinguish between fact and fiction, between rumor and evidenced truth when it can't even comprehend what the day's most important news stories are, or what news is breaking at the moment? [which gets proven by Oberstein] . . . If the most basic, and subsequently most foundational news queries are enigmatic to Google, how then can it be expected to delineate between slight shades of truth, with the difference between them being reality and rumor? The above case-by-case study points towards one truth... Google does not understand the news it is reading and as such intrinsically cannot fight fake news." (Source: Can Google Really Fight Fake News? [Case Study] , Mordy Oberstein, rankranger)

"In 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. . . . 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. . . . 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." (Source: New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites, Andre Damon and Niles Niemuth, wsws)


Our Citizens, Wisely, Do NOT Trust the Mainstream Media

A 2013 Gallup poll found only 23% Americans trust television or newspaper news, meaning that 77% DO NOT TRUST THEM—they're giving us not truth but CW and government-approved propaganda. (Source: Americans' Confidence in Congress Falls to Lowest on Record) See also Majority of Americans Don't Trust Newspapers and Television News.

"Just 6 percent of people say they have a lot of confidence in the media [i.e., 94% do NOT], putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public's view of other institutions." Readers are looking for balance and transparency. "A majority of people get news from social media, most frequently by far from Facebook. . . . Yet only 12 percent of those who use Facebook say they have a lot of trust in the news and information they see on the site." [I.e., 88% do NOT.] (Source: Poll: Getting facts right key to Americans' trust in media)

94% of citizens do NOT have a lot of confidence in the media—people are looking for balance and transparency
94% of citizens do NOT have a lot of confidence in the media—people are looking for balance and transparency

"Earlier this month, Google altered its algorithm – allegedly in an attempt to address the ‘fake news’ problem – and in doing so, a broad array of anti-establishment news organisations, whistleblower, civil-rights and anti-war websites were censored from its search listings. [Google’s chief search engineer, Ben Gomez] revealed that Google had recruited more than 10,000 'evaluators' hired to judge the quality of various websites, 'real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments,' though the chief search engineer did not identify the 'evaluators' or explain the criteria against which websites are judged. The ultimate irony: Google has seemingly allowed its evaluators to exercise their own biases when assessing the truth, accuracy and validity of these websites, and in doing so, are censoring essential information inconvenient to the narrative of the Washington establishment. . . . Google is deciding what is an acceptable story, and what is unacceptable, whose views and voices are preferenced, and whose are silenced. There is no transparency and accountability." (Source: The Truth Will Not Be Googled, Tyler Durden, zerohedge)

"While Google’s Information Age dominance has long been recognized to have some unsavory consequences, the massive technology corporation has, in recent months, taken to directly censoring content and traffic to a variety of independent media outlets across the political spectrum — essentially muting the voices of any site or author who does not toe the establishment line." (Source: Your up-to-date guide to avoiding internet censorship, Eds., mronline)

We guess it is easy to see why 94% have hardly any confidence in the media.