Should the phone companies be able to permanently cut off your service if you say something they don’t like?
Early yesterday morning I received a worried note from one of our regular columnists saying our website no longer came up in any Google search results.
Google and Facebook are the top gatekeepers to the global Internet, and in early May they had both purged us, with Facebook blocking our content and Google de-ranking all of our pages.
Google search results had previously placed many of our pieces very high, but now they no longer appeared at all unless one included “unz” in the search string. Thus, only those actually looking for us would ever find our content.
But this latest blow was even more severe, and now neither searches with nor without “unz” ever seemed to return any of our pages. Google had apparently “disappeared” us from the entire Internet.
Despite the earlier Facebook and Google bans, our traffic had easily broken all records in June, with our uniquely alternative perspectives overcoming the setback inflicted by the Internet giants. So apparently the Monopolist of Mountain View had decided to turns its screws a little tighter.
As it happens, I was somewhat mistaken. Later that day, I discovered a similar fate had befallen a very wide range of popular conservative and Republican-leaning websites, including those offering very mainstream and moderate perspectives:
FoxNews host Tucker Carlson currently has the highest rated show in cable history, but Google had decided that his websites no longer exist:
So apparently our “controversial” content had had little connection with our total disappearance from the Internet. Instead, a Google censor had decided we were some sort of conservative website, to be purged along with all the others.
I felt a little like the secret leader of the biggest Trotskyite network in the 1930s USSR, suddenly arrested in the middle of the night in an NKVD raid and thrown into a dank interrogation cell, where I desperately wondered “Who had betrayed me?!” But then I eventually discovered that 50,000 other people had been rounded up that same night, mostly for complaining that the bread they recently bought had been stale…and I remembered complaining about stale bread to someone the previous week…
As it happens, Google’s sudden total removal of all those websites including our own turned out to be temporary, and the search results were soon returned to what they had been the day before, with our pages still merely de-ranked and almost impossible to find rather than entirely eliminated. But the incident highlighted the absurd political and media power now allowed to a private company and its top executives.
Google’s share of the search engine market is nearly 90%, both in the US and worldwide, and Facebook has almost an equally strong monopoly in social networking. They are the gatekeepers to the Internet, and does it really make sense to allow them to have the power to “disappear” whatever websites or political candidates they don’t like? Should the phone companies be able to permanently cut off your service if you say something they don’t like?
During the Golden Age of television, if one network had controlled 90% of the American audience, it surely would have been treated as a regulated monopoly, and required to behave in an even-handed and fair manner. Shouldn’t Google and Facebook be held to the same standard?
Patterns may or may not be indicate of ultimate causes, but our alternative media website had spent five years providing material of an extremely controversial nature without encountering any difficulties with Internet gatekeepers, while our traffic steadily rose. Then, in late April I published an extremely popular article presenting the strong evidence that our disastrous Covid-19 outbreak was probably the unintentional blowback from an exceptionally reckless American biowarfare attack against China (and Iran), and within days we had been purged by both Facebook and Google. So it seems possible that the juxtaposition of these two occurrences may be more than purely coincidental.
Although our traffic has subsequently reached new heights, the Google ban was especially vexing to me, for reasons that I have noted:
For the last ten years, my article The Myth of Hispanic Crime had regularly ranked #2 among the 180 million search results Google returned for “Latino Crime” and the 60 million for “Hispanic Crime,” an achievement for which I had become inordinately proud. But although comparable search engines such as Bing and DuckDuckGo still rank my piece near the very top, Google has completely “disappeared” it.
I think a reasonable measure of a topic’s importance is the total number of search results it returns. Communism and Communists dominated the entire twentieth century and the political party of that name still holds sway in gigantic China. So a search on “Communism” returns 163 million results, a vast number but still somewhat below the total for “Latino Crime.” Imagine how an academic or journalist might feel if his article analyzing Communism had spent a full decade ranked #2 across the entire Internet, but Google had then suddenly decided to blacklist it for reasons entirely unrelated to its intrinsic or objective quality.
Still, these unfortunate developments are hardly comparable to those experienced under some other regimes of the twentieth century. I’ve finally gotten around to reading the The Black Book of Communism, that authoritative 1997 account of the USSR and the numerous other regimes which adopted a similar ideology, and although I’m only half way through the 800 pages, the mass-executions and wholesale imprisonments that found throughout make for rather depressing material.
Moreover, there are disturbing indications that our own tottering society is now heading in some extremely negative direction, a scenario in which de-rankings by Google would constitute only the most minor of petty grievances. Former CIA Officer Philip Giraldi has always been an extremely level-headed individual, but yesterday he published an extremely popular column evocatively entitled “A Nation Falling Apart,” which included the statement “There are a lot of indications that the American stratocruiser is about to crash.”
A few days ago, I had made some of these same points when I was interviewed at length by Luis Razo Bravo of the European Institute of Science in Management, who had studied during the 1980s under Richard Herrnstein of Harvard and whose other recent guests had included Charles Murray and the eminent theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss.
Source: Unz Review