The war over our right to information is fully upon us, with internet goliath Google demonstrating why they cannot be trusted to play fair.
Google is, legally, a private company who can do whatever they would like. This is a cold, hard fact that will likely be examined in the near future by our nation’s top adjudicators in a free speech case, but for the time being, we’re stuck with it.
The worry is, of course, that a vast majority of internet traffic is directed by Google. Heck, your car is even directed by Google anytime you pull up your GPS. If Google wanted to write a piece of code that sent everyone to a Starbucks or a Whole Foods, they could do that…and likely with impunity.
So, if Google wants to write a code that misrepresents the search results for a certain political candidate, that would also not be off limits to them as a private company. And, in Virginia’s 5th congressional district, that appears to be exactly what is happening.
Here are the first website results for republican Denver Riggleman as provided by Google:
Notice anything peculiar in there? Right in between his official website and his official Facebook link there is a Vox article that aims to paint Riggleman as an oddball and pervert. Reading the excerpt below the article also adds in a dash of racism – a popular accusation used by democrats to belittle their opponents and cast fear among the electorate.
Now let’s search for his opponent, Leslie Cockburn:
The first four results are from Cockburn’s official outlets, followed by an article praising the candidate from over a month ago.
Even more peculiar is the fact that this Cockburn article wasn’t all that well received, according to statistics from NewsWhip:
[Author’s Note: Given the age of the Vox article, these same statistics were not available. A request made to Vox for this data was not immediately returned.]
So, what is Google’s real role in our electoral process, and are we comfortable with information being hoarded by companies who are too big to care about impartiality?
That is a question that we will need to have answered, and soon, if we are to save our nation from the coming storm.
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