At first glance, Internet search engines, like Google, seem like a representative way to find tremendous amounts of information from all over the world. However, upon further inspection, Google is not as inclusive as it portrays itself to be. Google, and other search engines like it, allow governmental pressure to coerce them into censoring information. Particularly critical and newsworthy information. This seems unlikely since Google’s mission statement explicitly states how its service is aimed for leveling the distribution-of-information playing field.
According to its company site, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
So why are they censoring the press?
Ask Matthew Lee, editor-in-chief for Inner City Press, an independent media outlet aimed to expose corruption in the U.N. At first, his stories were rightly shown in Google News but one day, it was like Inner City Press had disappeared from the Internet. Readers could no longer find any stories from ICP on Google News.
It seemed Google had wiped Lee’s information from their search engine. It became clear that someone at the governmental agency had pressured Google to de-list him.
“Lee said he felt certain that the Internet company and the international agency had now joined forces to make his work less accessible to the public.”
However, this is not an isolated incident. In China, Google suppressed a radical professor, Guo Quan for his writing in opposition to the Chinese government. Google said that they were only acting in accordance to the Internet standards set by the Chinese government. But Quan is not happy.
“‘They have violated my political rights. I am opposed to violence and dictatorship but these sites have blocked me,'” he said.
And Google? The supposed democratic company seems to be reenforcing the suppression.
Furthermore, to protect their business interests, Google agreed to China’s censorship demands. This means that all information that is considered ‘subversive’ is not available to consumers.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, at first, the company switched all users to Hong Kong, which has no censorship.
“Google said that was a proposed compromise to uphold the principle of free access to information while obeying Chinese law.”
However, the compromise did not stick and now users must manually switch to Hong Kong if they want to see uncensored information, proving that government completely controls information dissemination.
All over the world, government is controlling information. The sad part is that the public acknowledges this but refuses to act upon it. Google presents itself as fair and balanced and yet, their track record is not very promising.
The book 1984 by George Orwell speaks a lot to this issue.
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”