Congratulations on finding this article if you used Google. A civil rights lawsuit filed this week revealed its search engine blacklists authors and ideas distasteful to the company.
Google engineer James Damoreâ€™s class action complaint describes a creepy cult-like orthodoxy at Google, where dissent is smashed, and the color of your skin is far more important than the content of your character. Reading the complaint is a deep dive into wicked, racial groupthink, and a frightening reminder that it really can happen here. At Google, it does. …
This article cannot possibly capture all of the rancid, racialist, thuggish things going on at Google, so Iâ€™d urge you to take time to read the whole complaint. Itâ€™s like reading Solzhenitsynâ€™s travel log from Ekibastuze. It reveals nothing short of the psychologies of totalitarianism in their timeless forms. The purges. The moral relativism. The threats. The lists of enemies. The upside-down world of the wicked justifying their wickedness.
To be sure, Google doesnâ€™t have the Google Gulag, but the thinking that is normal inside a powerful institution like Google should alarm all actual, normal Americans.
Damoreâ€™s worst sin at Google was to be white and male and to presume that shouldnâ€™t matter. In this, Damore was up against the roaring prevailing winds from the Left, where “whiteness” is wickedness, where “maleness” is a construct, and where the bright young things at the tech giant are remaking the world in their own image.
This is an example of the viewpoint of Google SJWs.
[W]e at TPM â€“ and some version of this is the case for the vast majority of publishers â€“ are connected to Google at almost every turn. … Running TPM absent Googleâ€™s various services is almost unthinkable. Like I literally would need to give it a lot of thought how weâ€™d do without all of them. Some of them are critical and I wouldnâ€™t know where to start for replacing them. In many cases, alternatives donâ€™t exist because no business can get a footing with a product Google lets people use for free.
But hereâ€™s where the rubber really meets the road. The publishers use DoubleClick. The big advertisers use DoubleClick. The big global advertising holding companies use Doubleclick. Everybody at every point in the industry is wired into DoubleClick. Hereâ€™s how they all play together. The adserving (Doubleclick) is like the road. (Adexchange) is the biggest car on the road. But only AdExchange gets full visibility into whatâ€™s available. (Thereâ€™s lot of details here and argument about just what Google does and doesnâ€™t know. But trust me on this. They keep the key information to themselves. This isnâ€™t a suspicion. Itâ€™s the model.) So Google owns the road and gets first look at whatâ€™s on the road. So not only does Google own the road and makes the rules for the road, it has special privileges on the road. One of the ways it has special privileges is that it has all the data it gets from search, Google Analytics and Gmail. It also gets to make the first bid on every bit of inventory. Of course thatâ€™s critical. First dibs with more information than anyone else has access to. (Some exceptions to this. But thatâ€™s the big picture.) Itâ€™s good to be the king. Itâ€™s good to be a Google.
Thereâ€™s more Iâ€™ll get to in a moment but the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is so vastly important to the entirety of the web, digital publishing and the entire ad industry that it is almost impossible to overstate. Again. They own the road. They make the rules for the road. They get special privileges on the road with every new iteration of rules.
In recent years, the big new things are various kinds of private deals and private markets you can set up to do business in different ways with advertisers. That uses Google architecture and they take a percentage. How much of a percentage does Google take on what I was referring to above â€“ the so-called open auction? No one knows.
Now Google can say â€“ and they are absolutely right â€“ that every month they send checks for thousands and millions of dollars to countless publishers that make their journalism possible. And in general Google tends to be a relatively benign overlord. But as someone who a) knows the industry inside and out â€“ down to the most nuts and bolts mechanics â€“ b) someone who understands at least the rudiments of anti-trust law and monopoly economics and c) can write for a sizable audience, I can tell you this.: Googleâ€™s monopoly control is almost comically great. Itâ€™s a monopoly at every conceivable turn and consistently uses that market power to deepen its hold and increase its profits. Just the interplay between DoubleClick and Adexchange is textbook anti-competitive practices.
Thereâ€™s one way that Google is better than Facebook. When Facebook is getting a bigger and bigger share of the advertising pie, that money is almost all going to Facebook. There are some small exceptions but thatâ€™s basically the case. When Google is making insane amounts of money on advertising, itâ€™s not really the same since a huge amount of that advertising is running on websites which are getting a cut. Still, the big story is that Google and Facebook now have a dominant position in the entirety of the advertising ecosystem and are using their monopoly power to take more and more of the money for themselves.
Weâ€™re basically too small for Google to care about. So I wouldnâ€™t say weâ€™ve had any bad experiences with Google in the sense of Google trying to injure us or use its power against us. What weâ€™ve experienced is a little different. Google is so big and so powerful that even when itâ€™s trying to do something good, it can be dangerous and frightening.
Hereâ€™s an example.
With the events of recent months and years, Google is apparently now trying to weed out publishers that are using its money streams and architecture to publish hate speech. Certainly youâ€™d probably be unhappy to hear that Stormfront was funded by ads run through Google. Iâ€™m not saying thatâ€™s happening. Iâ€™m just giving you a sense of what they are apparently trying to combat. Over the last several months weâ€™ve gotten a few notifications from Google telling us that certain pages of ours were penalized for â€˜violationsâ€™ of their ban for hate speech. When we looked at the pages they were talking about they were articles about white supremacist incidents. Most were tied to Dylann Roofâ€™s mass murder in Charleston.
Now in practice all this meant was that two or three old stories about Dylann Roof could no longer run ads purchased through Google. Iâ€™d say itâ€™s unlikely that loss to TPM amounted to even a cent a month. Totally meaningless. But hereâ€™s the catch. The way these warnings work and the way these particular warnings were worded, you get penalized enough times and then youâ€™re blacklisted.
Now, certainly youâ€™re figuring we could contact someone at Google and explain that weâ€™re not publishing hate speech and racist violence. Weâ€™re reporting on it. Not really. We tried that. We got back a message from our rep not really understanding the distinction and cheerily telling us to try to operate within the no hate speech rules. And how many warnings until weâ€™re blacklisted? Who knows?
If we were cut off, would that be Adexchange (the ads) or DoubleClick for Publishers (the road) or both? Who knows?
If the first stopped weâ€™d lose a big chunk of money that wouldnâ€™t put us out of business but would likely force us to retrench. If we were kicked off the road more than half of our total revenue would disappear instantly and would stay disappeared until we found a new road â€“ i.e., a new ad serving service or technology. At a minimum that would be a devastating blow that would require us to find a totally different ad serving system, make major technical changes to the site to accommodate the new system and likely not be able to make as much from ads ever again. Thatâ€™s not including some unknown period of time â€“ certainly weeks at least â€“ in which we went with literally no ad revenue.
Needless to say, the impact of this would be cataclysmic and could easily drive us out of business.
Now itâ€™s never happened. And this whole scenario stems from what is at least a well-intentioned effort not to subsidize hate speech and racist groups. Again, it hasnâ€™t happened. So in some sense the cataclysmic scenario Iâ€™m describing is as much a product of my paranoia as something Google could or might do. But when an outside player has that much power, often acts arbitrarily (even when well-intentioned) and is almost impossible to communicate with, a significant amount of paranoia is healthy and inevitable.
I give this example only to illustrate the way that Google is so powerful and so all-encompassing that it can actually do great damage unintentionally.
NYM is obviously a lot smaller than TPM, and unlike TPM, tries to operate without outside funding. This is undoubtedly severely limiting. I pay for expenses out of pocket, and can’t afford subscriptions to costly research services. I have no interns or assistants. I don’t make anything more than pocket change, and therefore blogging is just a small avocation and minor duty for me. A more serious blog, making a real income, would contain a lot more original writing and research.
Sometime back, I used to make something like $150-200 a couple of times a year from Google Adsense. One day Google’s Ads disappeared. It took me six months or so to notice (sigh!). And when I looked into what had happened, this was roughly four years ago, I found I had been given an ultimatum from Google. I had to remove a posting and beg to be forgiven, and then I might have my ads restored.
I sent the Google Adsense team a foreign language literary reference, “Ich heisse GÃ¶tz von Berlichingen,” inviting them to kiss my ass. I have since done without Google Adsense.
Josh Marshall is right, I think, to be concerned with the power wielded these days by a handful of corporations which have arrived at positions of control over speech and communications incidentally in the course of the more conventional corporate drive for profit and market control.
Companies like Google are demonstrably not above applying Planetary-sized corporate muscle to enforce standards not only of speech, but of opinion, reflecting the mere prejudices and whims of corporate chieftains applied robotically by lesser imps deep in the depths of their own bureaucracy.
Libertarians like myself would normally be found arguing that Google isn’t really a monopoly, you can use Duck Duck Go or Bing instead, and contending that corporations have a right to make their own terms. Today, however, we have corporations possessed, ephemerally perhaps, of dominant position gate-keeping kinds of power, appointing themselves as universal censors of speech and political opinion they do not like. They are literally able to silence people they look upon unfavorably, and they are therefore, in reality, exercising governmental powers without anybody ever having voted and elected them.
The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 applied an older Common Law doctrine of Public Accommodations being required to serve everyone. There is no reason that the same doctrine shouldn’t be applied to the likes of Google, Yahoo, and Go Daddy.
The Washington Post reports that many of the key companies providing social networking, financial transfer, and even web-site registration have now decided to take it upon themselves to decide just who is, and who is not, worthy of Internet services and access.
Silicon Valley significantly escalated its war on white supremacy this week, choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all.
The new moves go beyond censoring individual stories or posts. Tech companies such as Google, GoDaddy and PayPal are now reversing their hands-off approach about content supported by their services and making it much more difficult for alt-right organizations to reach mass audiences.
But the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. …
The censorship of hate speech by companies passes constitutional muster, according to First Amendment experts. But they said there is a downside of thrusting corporations into that role.
Silicon Valley firms may be ill-prepared to manage such a large societal responsibility, they added. The companies have limited experience handling these issues. They must answer to shareholders and demonstrate growth in users or profits â€” weighing in on free speech matters risks alienating large groups of customers across the political spectrum.
These platforms are also so massive â€” Facebook, for example, counts a third of the worldâ€™s population in its monthly user base; GoDaddy hosts and registers 71 million websites â€” it may actually be impossible for them to enforce their policies consistently.
Still, tech companies are forging ahead. On Wednesday, Facebook said it canceled the page of white nationalist Christopher Cantwell, who was connected to the Charlottesville rally. The company has shut down eight other pages in recent days, citing violations of the company’s hate speech policies. Twitter has suspended several extremist accounts, including @Millennial_Matt, a Nazi-obsessed social media personality.
On Monday, GoDaddy delisted the Daily Stormer, a prominent neo-Nazi site, after its founder celebrated the death of a woman killed in Charlottesville. The Daily Stormer then transferred its registration to Google, which also cut off the site. The site has since retreated to the â€œdark Web,â€ making it inaccessible to most Internet users.
PayPal late Tuesday said it would bar nearly three dozen users from accepting donations on its online payment platform following revelations that the company played a key role in raising money for the white supremacist rally.
In a lengthy blog post, PayPal outlined its long-standing policy of not allowing its services to be used to accept payments or donations to organizations that advocate racist views.
You won’t however find any mention of ANTIFA, the CPUSA, or any group on the Left receiving this kind of attention.
At a special press conference held at the technology giantâ€™s sprawling campus Tuesday, Google engineers revealed exciting new technology that autocorrects any errant thoughts its users are having, replacing them with positions approved by the company.
Utilizing advanced retinal scan and proprietary telepathic scanning technology, the new automatic thought correction algorithm is now live for users of Googleâ€™s search engine, Android operating system, Chrome OS, and the hundreds of other apps and services the company provides.
â€œLetâ€™s say you start thinking there may be some kind of inherent biological difference between men and women,â€ Google employee Ryan Vo said in a live demo of the new tech. â€œImmediately, the thought suggestion program in any nearby Google device, app, or service will scrub the idea of inherent gender differences and replace them with the sure knowledge that there are at least three hundred different genders in existence, and always has been.â€
â€œGoogle will begin rebuilding your mind, piece by piece,â€ he added to the cheers and applause of the tech bloggers and industry professionals gathered.
According to the spokesperson, Google is also utilizing crack teams of ex-military personnel to round up anyone who resists the new technology, taking them to a new portion of Googleâ€™s campus known as the â€œDepartment of Loveâ€ for questioning, reconditioning, and re-introduction into civilized society.
Numerous individuals alleged to be members of Googleâ€™s management team have been caught bragging about forming blacklists to impact the careers of colleagues with different political beliefs.
In a series of screenshots from 2015 onwards provided to Breitbart News by a verified Google employee, individuals described as left-wing Google management employees can be seen discussing the ways they punish their colleagues both inside and out of the company. …
“One of the great things about Googleâ€™s internal communication mechanisms (G+, mailing lists, etc), is that, as a manager, I can easily go find out if I really want to work with you,â€ wrote another individual described on social media as a Google manager, Collin Winter. â€œI keep a written blacklist of people whom I will never allow on or near my team, based on how they view and treat their coworkers. That blacklist got a little longer today.â€
In the comments, one Google employee can be seen asking, â€œAre such blacklists allowed at Google?â€ before another added, â€œI would talk to legal before assembling a list of people who are possibly creating a hostile workplace.â€
â€œAnd now I know that if I ever sue Google for harassment I should demand to see all managerâ€™s shit-lists to see if this was something management already knew and thus let happen (my tormentor could be on there and not dealt with). It would probably increase the settlement aware considerably,â€ he continued. â€œI would encourage anyone else getting mistreated at Google to do the same.â€
This week, a Google employeeâ€™s ten-page document went viral, after he called for more ideological diversity at the company. …
The employeeâ€™s manifesto quickly prompted extreme responses from left-wing users, including one SJW, Emily Gorcenski, who claimed she would â€œbeat the sh*t out of him.â€
Gorcenski frequently retweets and expresses support for Itâ€™s Going Down, an extremist far-left Antifa organization, who have previously doxed and harassed college students, and encouraged violence against Trump supporters.
Alon Altman, who according to social media posts is a senior software engineer at Google and who describes himself as an â€œintersectional feministâ€ and uses â€œthey/them/theirâ€ pronouns, was also seen in leaked screenshots urging Google management to fire employees who agreed with the anti-political correctness manifesto that was revealed this week.
In leaked screenshots, Altman added that should the employee behind the manifesto not be fired by the end of the month, he would hand in his resignation notice.
In another post, alleged Site Reliability Manager Paul Cowan warned to employees that â€œfreedom of speech is the right to freely express an opinion. It is most assuredly not the right to express an opinion with freedom from the consequences.â€
Cowan continued to reference a post from Google dissidents, who were discussing the blacklists being created by an â€œSJW cabalâ€ at the company, before defending the concept of punishing anti-SJW employees.
â€œTo be clear: this is, in my opinion, perfectly acceptable,â€ he declared. â€œQuoting this as if it were some egregious abuse of power, or of your rights, is laughableâ€¦ My life, happiness, and mental health, are worth too much to me to burn my precious happy-fu working with people I find contemptible, unpleasant, or even in some cases merely irritating.â€
After being warned that keeping blacklists could result in him being reported to Human Resources, Cowan then bragged on Twitter that they were â€œthreats I ignored, naturally, and which ironically grew the list substantially.â€
In older posts, Kim Burchett, a now ex-Google employee and Antifa supporter, also discussed blacklists in a post on Internal Plus.
â€œI am considering creating a public-inside-google document of â€˜people who make diversity difficultâ€™,â€ claimed Burchett. â€œI am thinking of something like google doc that accepts comments, and which calls out those googlers who repeatedly made public statements that are unsupportive of diversity, with links to those statements so that readers can decide for themselves.â€
Well, surprise, surprise! Bloomberg reports that Google has fired the software engineer who wrote the memo criticizing that company’s diversity policies that recently went viral.
Alphabet Inc.â€™s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web companyâ€™s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley.
James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for â€œperpetuating gender stereotypes.â€ He said heâ€™s â€œcurrently exploring all possible legal remedies.â€
The problem is that US labor law is well-settled in this area: In the vast majority of US states, employees have almost no rights to free speech at work. …
The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the government from restricting your speech. It doesn’t restrict your employer from controlling your speech when you are at work. As the government is not involved in this case, Damore is already on shaky ground if he files a lawsuit arguing a free speech case.
More importantly, Damore’s speech has not been restricted. He can continue to express his opinion. Indeed, his opinion has already been published far more widely than he can have hoped. His speech is on steroids right now! His legal problem is that he does not have a constitutional right to a job at Google. If he is an “at-will” employee â€” i.e. an ordinary employee not governed by a special contract, like a film star might have â€” then Google has every right to demand that he leave.
You can read a lengthy legal paper on this issue by Prof. Eugene Volokh, of the UCLA Law School, here. It can be summed up in one paragraph:
“Of course, employee speech can always be restricted by private employers, who are not bound by the First Amendment. This cannot, however, authorize greater restrictions by the government. A householder is entitled to kick out dinner guests who say certain things. A commercial landlord can refuse to rent to tenants who put up certain posters. A newspaper publisher can refuse to publish articles with which he disagrees. A private university may restrict what its faculty say in class, or even what its students say on campus. Speech on private property can generally be controlled by the private property owner.
As Google Site Reliability Manager Paul Cowan warned internally at Google â€” his posts were screengrabbed by Breitbart â€” “freedom of speech is the right to freely express an opinion. It is most assuredly not the right to express an opinion with freedom from the consequences.”
But he does have at least two job offers, Heavy reports:
Damore also has a couple job offers to consider. One offer came from Gab, a company founded in 2016 that says it is â€œan ad-free social network for creators who believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online.â€ It has become popular among those in the alt right, including some who have been banned from Twitter.
And Wikileaksâ€™ Julian Assange tweeted Tuesday, â€œCensorship is for losers. @WikiLeaks is offering a job to fired Google engineer James Damore.
This is a real pain in the ass. I use Chrome all the time, and now I have to switch to Safari or Opera. I guess I’ll also soon find out if Duck Duck Go is any good as a search engine.
Gizmodo published the 10-page critique of Google’s Diversity policies written by a white male software engineer that recently went viral within the company.
His conclusions were:
As soon as we start to moralize an issue, we stop thinking about it in terms of costs and benefits, dismiss anyone that disagrees as immoral, and harshly punish those we see as villains to protect the â€œvictims.â€
Stop alienating conservatives.
Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently.
In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.
Confront Googleâ€™s biases.
Iâ€™ve mostly concentrated on how our biases cloud our thinking about diversity and inclusion, but our moral biases are farther reaching than that.
I would start by breaking down Googlegeist scores by political orientation and personality to give a fuller picture into how our biases are affecting our culture.
Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races.
These discriminatory practices are both unfair and divisive. Instead focus on some of the non-discriminatory practices I outlined.
Have an open and honest discussion about the costs and benefits of our diversity programs.
Discriminating just to increase the representation of women in tech is as misguided and biased as mandating increases for womenâ€™s representation in the homeless, work-related and violent deaths, prisons, and school dropouts.
Thereâ€™s currently very little transparency into the extend of our diversity programs which keeps it immune to criticism from those outside its ideological echo chamber.
These programs are highly politicized which further alienates non-progressives.
I realize that some of our programs may be precautions against government accusations of discrimination, but that can easily backfire since they incentivize illegal discrimination.
Focus on psychological safety, not just race/gender diversity.
We should focus on psychological safety, which has shown positive effects and should (hopefully) not lead to unfair discrimination.
We need psychological safety and shared values to gain the benefits of diversity
Having representative viewpoints is important for those designing and testing our products, but the benefits are less clear for those more removed from UX.
Iâ€™ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathyâ€”feeling anotherâ€™s painâ€”causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.
Our focus on microaggressions and other unintentional transgressions increases our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies. Speaking up without the fear of being harshly judged is central to psychological safety, but these practices can remove that safety by judging unintentional transgressions.
Microaggression training incorrectly and dangerously equates speech with violence and isnâ€™t backed by evidence.
Be open about the science of human nature.
Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.
Reconsider making Unconscious Bias training mandatory for promo committees.
We havenâ€™t been able to measure any effect of our Unconscious Bias training and it has the potential for overcorrecting or backlash, especially if made mandatory.
Some of the suggested methods of the current training (v2.3) are likely useful, but the political bias of the presentation is clear from the factual inaccuracies and the examples shown.
Spend more time on the many other types of biases besides stereotypes. Stereotypes are much more accurate and responsive to new information than the training suggests (Iâ€™m not advocating for using stereotypes, I [sic] just pointing out the factual inaccuracy of whatâ€™s said in the training).
They ought to hire Curtis Yarvon to write one of these.
But don’t hold your breath waiting for Google to adopt this (probably now unemployed) software engineer’s proposals. There was an immediate official response from Googleâ€™s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance, Danielle Brown (quoted below in part):
Iâ€™m Danielle, Googleâ€™s brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance. I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate weâ€™ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.
Many of you have read an internal document shared by someone in our engineering organization, expressing views on the natural abilities and characteristics of different genders, as well as whether one can speak freely of these things at Google. And like many of you, I found that it advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. Iâ€™m not going to link to it here as itâ€™s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.
Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and weâ€™ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul. As Ari Balogh said in his internal G+ post, â€œBuilding an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. â€˜Nuff said. â€œ
You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book thatâ€™s ever been published. Books still in print youâ€™d have to pay for, but everything elseâ€”a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europeâ€”would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.
At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. Youâ€™d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; for the first time, youâ€™d be able to pinpoint an idea somewhere inside the vastness of the printed record, and send somebody straight to it with a link. Books would become as instantly available, searchable, copy-pasteableâ€”as alive in the digital worldâ€”as web pages.
It was to be the realization of a long-held dream. â€œThe universal library has been talked about for millennia,â€ Richard Ovenden, the head of Oxfordâ€™s Bodleian Libraries, has said. â€œIt was possible to think in the Renaissance that you might be able to amass the whole of published knowledge in a single room or a single institution.â€ In the spring of 2011, it seemed weâ€™d amassed it in a terminal small enough to fit on a desk.
â€œThis is a watershed event and can serve as a catalyst for the reinvention of education, research, and intellectual life,â€ one eager observer wrote at the time.
On March 22 of that year, however, the legal agreement that would have unlocked a centuryâ€™s worth of books and peppered the country with access terminals to a universal library was rejected under Rule 23(e)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
When the library at Alexandria burned it was said to be an â€œinternational catastrophe.â€ When the most significant humanities project of our time was dismantled in court, the scholars, archivists, and librarians whoâ€™d had a hand in its undoing breathed a sigh of relief, for they believed, at the time, that they had narrowly averted disaster.