Break Them Up


Every minute, an estimated 3.8 million queries are typed into Google, prompting its algorithms to spit out results for hotel rates or breast-cancer treatments or the latest news about President Trump.
They are arguably the most powerful lines of computer code in the global economy, controlling how much of the world accesses information found on the internet, and the starting point for billions of dollars of commerce.
Over time, Google has increasingly re-engineered and interfered with search results to a far greater degree than the company and its executives have acknowledged, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. […]
• Despite publicly denying doing so, Google keeps blacklists to remove certain sites or prevent others from surfacing in certain types of results. These moves are separate from those that block sites as required by U.S. or foreign law, such as those featuring child abuse or with copyright infringement, and from changes designed to demote spam sites, which attempt to game the system to appear higher in results.
• In auto-complete, the feature that predicts search terms as the user types a query, Google’s engineers have created algorithms and blacklists to weed out more-incendiary suggestions for controversial subjects, such as abortion or immigration, in effect filtering out inflammatory results on high-profile topics.
• Google employees and executives, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have disagreed on how much to intervene on search results and to what extent. Employees can push for revisions in specific search results, including on topics such as vaccinations and autism.
• To evaluate its search results, Google employs thousands of low-paid contractors whose purpose the company says is to assess the quality of the algorithms’ rankings. Even so, contractors said Google gave feedback to these workers to convey what it considered to be the correct ranking of results, and they revised their assessments accordingly, according to contractors interviewed by the Journal. The contractors’ collective evaluations are then used to adjust algorithms.
THE JOURNAL’S FINDINGS undercut one of Google’s core defenses against global regulators worried about how it wields its immense power—that the company doesn’t exert editorial control over what it shows users. Regulators’ areas of concern include anticompetitive practices, political bias and online misinformation.
Far from being autonomous computer programs oblivious to outside pressure, Google’s algorithms are subject to regular tinkering from executives and engineers who are trying to deliver relevant search results, while also pleasing a wide variety of powerful interests and driving its parent company’s more than $30 billion in annual profit. Google is now the most highly trafficked website in the world, surpassing 90% of the market share for all search engines. The market capitalization of its parent, Alphabet Inc., is more than $900 billion.

To the surprise of no one.

9 Replies to “Break Them Up”

    1. if it where only that easy. True the DDG search engine does not filter or track like google. However Google is interconnected with the Global DNS mechanism. Virtually every web search is managed by a google server. Of course Google claims there is no connection between their DNS service and their search engine. But I cant prove that.

  1. Serious question, while Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. are nasty and should be busted, could we end up with something worse?

    ‘Alibaba’ is already as large as Amazon apparently, and I doubt they’re much better. But possibly worse than that, if Google got busted, could China launch a similar search engine and corner the market?

    I have no idea, but I guess I would take our bastards over their bastards?

  2. Google can suck it. Use DuckDuckGo, it’s way better. (I admit that it’ll seem a bit weird right when you switch over. But stick with DuckDuckGo for a few weeks, and you won’t go back.)

    1. That’s what I use too.
      But, Google, Facebook track you in so many other ways.
      What we all need is:
      – a Linux phone OS that strips the tracking crap (it exists). Android is a Linux or BSD variant.
      – Home voice control that stays home and is not an external network listening device.
      – ditto video.

  3. If this improves Google’s profitability then they are morally bound to do it. Responsibility to shareholders. You may have not thought of this but customers may just prefer this level of ‘interference’.

  4. BOB..
    Better yet…??

    Buy a Blackberry Classic or Z30.

    ZERO Listening to your conversations
    ZERO Suggestions or ADS
    ZERO requests for review this store or that you just visited
    ZERO in yer Face all the Freaking time BS.
    …and a damned good TELEPHONE.

    I’m thinking that when the time comes for some real privacy..? These are going to sell for a premium.

    As for home, there will never be a google assistant or alexa in this household….ever.