We Join in Expressing Concern: Google’s New Algorithm Will Determine What News Is “Authoritative”
BEN MARQUIS 4-11-17
Allegedly in the interest of combating patently false “fake news” websites on the internet, Google has unveiled their own Orwellian Ministry of Truth to make determinations on the veracity of various Google search results.
According to Mashable, Google first rolled out the feature in a limited number of countries, but is now utilizing it worldwide to let users know if what they are searching for has been deemed “true” or “false” or somewhere in between by a group of third-party fact-check organizations.
Google published a blog post that somewhat explained the new feature and set forth the rules by which publishers on the internet will have to comply if they want to be included, but made clear that “Only publishers that are algorithmically determined to be an authoritative source of information will qualify for inclusion.”
Google now joins Facebook in acting as Big Brother to “fact check” the things computer users see on the internet for them, placing a sort of “fake news” label on certain search results that may come up.
While this already sounds like something out of “1984” to begin with, it takes on an even more Orwellian feel when one looks at who Google is relying upon to be their “unbiased” and “nonpartisan” Ministry of Truth fact-checking organizations.
According to USA Today, those organizations that will be fact-checking Google search results includes: FactCheck.org, GossipCop.com, PolitiFact.org, Snopes.com, The New York Times and the Washington Post, and that is just for the United States thus far. Some 50 to 100 other international fact-checking organizations will also be taking part in the program.
As the program stands right now, a search will simply bring back a “fact check snippet” along with the search results that makes a general determination of truthfulness and states which organization made that determination.
This early in the game it’s difficult to assess the real effect of Google’s initiative. According to Google, the feature won’t be available for every results — a test search of “was Hillary Clinton at fault in Benghazi?” for instance, failed to turn up any fact-checking, though liberals and conservatives have been doing just that for years.
But the danger is clear.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a collection of liberal-leaning organizations may not judge kindly when it comes to inconvenient facts or conservative viewpoints with which they disagree or that undermine their narratives.
It remained unclear if search results deemed “false” would be buried from view and tossed down the memory hole to be forgotten forever, or if that particularly Orwellian special feature will come in a later update of the program.