by Scott Greer
Google had a rough week.
James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired for writing a memo criticizing the tech giant’s “ideological echo chamber,” filed a lawsuit against his old company over its ideological and anti-white male bias.
Damore’s lawsuit claims that Google has a problem with conservative white men and works hard to enforce ideological conformity among its employees. Damore provides damning examples of the left-wing bias of Google, including employees openly supporting violence against right-wingers, the company rewarding staffers who publicly condemned Damore’s views and Google promoting ridiculous “diversity” initiatives. (RELATED: Lawsuit Exposes Google’s Rank Internal Bias, Identity Obsession)
In addition to the lawsuit, The Daily Caller News Foundation uncovered that Google’s “fact check” system pretty much only targets conservative outlets while leaving questionable left-leaning sites unscathed. (RELATED: Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites)
This is an issue because when a person searches for a site, one of the first things he will see in the sidebar is Google claiming a site such as The Daily Caller publishes questionable content, thus hurting traffic and that outlet’s brand.
It’s not unreasonable to ask if Google uses its fact check system to suppress conservative content rather than to inform its users.
Last week provided more evidence that one of most influential corporations in the world uses its immense power to enforce an ideological bias among its employees and the millions of people who use its service. That should worry everyone, but apparently one person not concerned about it is Sen. Mike Lee, who chairs the Senate Antitrust subcommittee.
The Utah Republican joined Fox News’ Tucker Carlson last Wednesday to talk about Google’s abuses, and surprisingly brushed off The Daily Caller co-founder’s concerns about it.
“In no way is [Google] as much of a threat as the government is to your privacy,” Lee told Carlson. To Tucker’s worries about Google’s ability to censor political speech, invade our privacy and insidiously promote its own political agenda, Lee confidently asserted that you can “use another search engine.”
Using another search engine is a quaint response to Google having a virtual monopoly on the business. In America, nearly 89 percent of all internet searches go through Google. A few people deciding to use Bing over Google’s political bias will not change the fact that the internet search giant controls the flow of information for the vast majority of Americans.
If Google wants to bury an article or an entire outlet, like it has done for RT, it will do so and American citizens have little recourse to object to that decision.
Tucker brought up the fact that citizens have no power to change a powerful institution like Google, but do have that ability with a democratic government through elections and their representatives. Sen. Lee waved that point away by asserting the government can lock up people for their speech, but Google can’t.
While it is obviously true imprisonment is far worse than having your search results skewed, Lee’s flippant attitude doesn’t account for the reality of the situation. The U.S. government isn’t arresting people for their political views and is legally barred from discriminating against people in employment and other areas due to their politics.
Meanwhile, Google, a powerful corporation, uses its internet search monopoly to suppress political views it disagrees with and discriminates against conservative employees.
If the U.S. government was actually doing all that Lee says it has the power to do, then it would be the greatest threat to free speech. However, the government is not doing such things to the extent Google that is, and Lee comes off as pointing to a non-existent problem to divert attention from the real issue.
State power is, theoretically, the bigger threat to freedom if it’s abused. But corporations like Google are the ones abusing their power to suppress free speech in the real world. Why shouldn’t lawmakers focus on that?
Lee appears to believe that the free market will magically take care of that problem and that lawmakers should just focus on the government. It is a bit weird for a man like Mike Lee, who fears the power of big government, to be so unfazed by big tech monopolies.
Interestingly enough, the Utah senator used to be a staunch critic of Google’s power. In 2011, he accused the company of “cooking the results” in its searches to favor their own products. That same year, he released a statement warning of Google’s ability to use its power to invade the privacy of average citizens.
“Google’s powerful position as an Internet gatekeeper reduces the company’s incentive to compete with other search engines by providing enhanced privacy protection for consumers,” Lee said in his 2011 statement. “The combination of behavioral and personal information enables Google to generate consumer data that is unprecedented in scale and scope. These activities raise serious privacy concerns and may be indicative of an important market that is largely unconstrained by competition. Antitrust enforcement may unlock beneficial competition for the protection of user privacy and avert the need for additional privacy regulation.”
Now the Utah Republican tells those concerned about Google’s power and politics to switch to another search engine, even though he acknowledged a few years ago the company has built such a strong monopoly that consumer boycotts don’t present a real threat to it.
Additionally, in 2015, Lee had sought a probe into why the Federal Trade Commission had let Google go off easy in 2012 in spite of finding that the tech giant’s “conduct has resulted—and will result—in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets.”
Why Lee changed his stance is a question that remains to be determined, but Ann Coulter did point out a possible reason for his change of heart on Thursday.
“[I]n 2016, Google Fiber expanded into Salt Lake City,” Coulter tweeted. “Now, @SenMikeLee has no complaints with Google.”
Whatever Lee’s reason for changing his mind on Google, the American people should share the same skepticism of the tech giant that Lee used to have.
As Tucker Carlson rightly declares, “Tech giants are not just a threat to privacy, they are a threat to our basic American freedoms.”
Hopefully, more lawmakers wake up to the fact that Google isn’t just some chain store with multiple competitors equal to its strength. Google is a monopoly that has the power to control how we view the world — and it desperately needs a higher power to keep it in check.