Saturday, January 16, 2010

Googlegate: Google censoring climategate

Lawrence Solomon has picked up on Google's apparent censoring of climategate references:

... Google announced an end to its long-standing collaboration with the Chinese Communists — it will no longer censor users inside China.That’s good of it. Maybe Google will now also stop using its search engine to censor the rest of us, in the Western countries.

... in early December, Google began to minimize the Climategate scandal by hiding Climategate pages from its users. By Dec. 17, the number of climategate pages that a Google search found dropped by almost 10 million, to 22.2 million. One day later Google dropped its find by another 8 million pages, to 14.1 million. By Dec. 23, Google could find only 7.5 million hits and on Dec. 24 just 6 million. And yesterday, when I checked, Google reported a mere 1.8 million climategate pages.

The accusations against Google of censorship are wide-spread, involving schemes to elect Barack Obama, attacks on Christianity (key in “Christianity is” and Google will suggest unflattering completions to the phrase), and political correctness (key in “Islam is” and nothing negative is suggested).The bottom line? Google is as inscrutable as the Chinese, and perhaps no less corrupt. For safe searches, you’re best off with Bing.

For more on this, blogger Harold Ambler documents his efforts to get Google's executives to explain themselves. He asks them whether or not Al Gore had influenced their censorship. The responses from Google were less than convincing.

Google, in suppressing Climategate information, exhibits the same corrupt mindset displayed in the CRU email files. In fact, it is complicit in Climategate.

I'm taking up Lawrence Solomon's suggestion and switching to Bing with the hope that Microsoft isn't (or doesn't become) similarly corrupted.


Anonymous said...

I have been very aware of Google's bias over the last 6 months or so. I often go to Google News Canada to see the main headlines. These are supposed to be the most viewed stories/columns at the time.

What they have been serving up instead is a list of biased columns and even letters to small papers such as the Owen Sound Sun Times and the Surrey Leader. How could items from these small outfits ever be the most read items on the net?

The items they highlight are always anti-Harper. Time for Google to take its power responsibly.

Anonymous said...

You know something, I have always found Yahoo to be almost as good and in fact Yahoo is my home page.
Also, an upcoming good search engine is Bing.
Having labelled Google and AP news as leftish, everything they now have on offer should be read with a big Question Mark.

Anonymous said...

Last Saturday there was a report from Mexico that 9 people died from a cold snap that hasn't been seen there for 150 years.
The radio report mentioned the poor homeless that never saw really cold weather which hit 20 Degree F , some homes never needed central heating so a few people started to burn wood or use gas to make heat, this caused Carbon Monoxide poisining that tookmore lives.

BUT wait, Canada should have issued a Travel warning to the Sun-Seekers that just booked their Holidays and packed a Towel and thong swim suit.
Not a chance folks, I scoured Google and the CBC for any proof to the story in case it was a Onion-News gag, but the only place it was made public was in " The Strait Times" news paper from Singapor.

I even tried YouTube but not one picture or video of the Global Warming deaths in Mexicio, how odd that I can watch videos from Iran where humans are killed in real-time ,or Mosque bombings in Iraq in real-time on a Video phone......but not one person in Mexico has a camera or Video phone .
I even saw the Tsunami video from the 2005 Boxing day Ocean earth quakethat killed almost 300'000 people.

The Internet has jumped the Shark for Google because it's now just another big business that sold-out to the mighty dollar where "The Truth" is what YOU wantit to be.

JR said...

Re the Yahoo search engine - searching for "googlegate" yielded the following results:
Bing ...73,700,000
Yahoo ......48,900
Google .....29,700

Bing beats them both by more than 3 orders of magnitude. I use Yahoo mainly for its financial pages - not much else.

Halfwise said...

JR I love your blog but I can not get excited about Google or stories of its bias.

I get dozens of visits per day on my blog by people who search for Blackberry Brickbreaker Tips on Google. I get none from Bing. None.

My blog is on the first page of Google listings when you search for Brickbreaker tips. It does not show up at all in Bing until you also type in "Halfwise".

Blogspot is part of the Google family, I believe. Bing won't bring you many visitors compared to Google. If you put something up on jr2020 it will show up in Google almost immediately.

In terms of Climategate, I am willing to entertain thoughts of Google bias, but seriously, do you believe that there were that many million stories in the first two weeks or so? Or would you think that Google has an algorithm based on rates of new findings that hints at the number of undiscovered sites.

A new phenomenon (Haiti Earthquake) has 19,700,000 Google items since Tuesday. Are there 19,700,000 stories out there? Really? Or does the algorithm extrapolate the number of new sites from some sample data points and the rate of growth of data?

Let's come back in a month and see how many Haiti stories there are. If the number drops, and I bet it will, it will not be because Google is biased against Haiti.

Better to laugh at our politicians than worry much about Google, I think.

Halfwise said...

I just cut and pasted some text from this blog post into Google. Google has it, just hours after you posted. Bing does not.

Anonymous said...

Nothing Liberal about Anne Coulter.

JR said...

Halfwise, You make good points about Google's current general superiority. It's been around a lot longer. And it wouldn't surprise me at all that Google has better search algorithms than Bing (for now), though I couldn't claim to know how any of them work.

However, the general utility of a search engine is one thing. The suppression of information related to specific issues based on the political biases of search engine operators is an entirely different kettle of fish. If it's true that Google has been doing that (and I'm open to proof otherwise) they deserve all the heat that they get.

Halfwise said...

JR I won't argue that the things that humans do at Google, including editing and maintaining the auto-complete lists that make searching easier, are subject to all kinds of human biases. And the Climategate stuff would no doubt provoke many Google staff whose green religion is being revealed as false.

I just don't buy the argument about the number of hits and webpages, because I don't think a human is involved in the process. And the discussion about Google bias is more or less the same as the discussion about media bias. It could be true by either commission or omission, but neither sin changes the real issue of the questionable science and the self-destructive policy responses of governments.

JR said...

I agree that Google censoring its searches falls in the general category of media bias. Though I think Google and the like are in a special category of their own - a kind of meta-media in a position to influence (enable or suppress) the public's access to the real media stories and related commentary. It's a lot less transparent.

As for the number of hits, etc - the human influence is in the writing of the search algorithm is it not? In the comments to Harold Ambler's Googlegate tale some wag suggests that "algorithm" was replaced with an "AlGoreithm":) By the way, what did you think of Ambler's account?

Anon1152 said...

Strange. Right now (at 0:38, 18 Jan 10) google suggest suggests "climategate" after only typing "c-l-i-m". For me at least. I'm in Ontario. I realize it may be different in different jurisdictions.

I read Lawrence Solomon's column about this in the National Post. He mentioned the lack of "googlegate" references on Google. That seems more suspicious to me. But if I want critical information about an organization, I usually avoid that organization as my main source.

A quick look at the Bing and Google results for "climategate" leads me to trust Google more. Have you seen the first 10 results each search engine provide? The Google results seem more... credible...

Yes, on Google, the first result is Wikipedia. (I consider that an good place to start, though would not cite it as authoritative... a policy that used to apply to old-fashioned encyclopedias... but I digress). The second Google "hit" I get is from the national post. Then a blog of some sort (wattsupwiththat). Then, the "about us" section begins: "The goal of is to provide a daily dose of information regarding the world’s greatest scam, climategate..."

Perhaps not the most objective source.

I always thought that the greatest scam was Santa Claus.

But I digress.

Many of the top Google results seem to be news websites. The telegraph, the wall street journal, the examiner, fox news, the bbc, etc. is the first "hit" on Bing. Followed by a facebook group. Followed by... a number of other similar websites....

Google produces more news websites... websites I would be more likely to trust as someone researching the topic. Including a website with all of the CRU emails (within the top 10).

As for Google not showing the tens of millions of "hits" Bing does... I don't know how much of a criticism that is, given the unlikelihood of anyone wanting or needing to sift through tens of millions of webpages.

I much admire this Harold Ambler, who actually called Google for more information. (Did Lawrence Solomon do anything of the sort? Did the National Post?).

I'd love to be able to get a closer look at the Algorithms (or whatever) that Bing and Google use. I'm not holding my breath. (And the fact that I'd probably need to spend weeks learning enough to understand how they work doesn't help either).

Without denying Google's less than pure motives... I wonder if Lawrence Solomon has any ties to Microsoft (and by extension Bing). Bing and Google are hardly the only search engines out there...

Xanthippa said...

From bad to worse....

You say you hope Microsoft is not or will not become similarly that a joke?

Why do you think that foreign governments (Canada aside - that is a very convoluted story...) will not permit any Microsoft software on their computers?

Bing search parameters are seriously skewed - but in a different way than Google's. Let's just leave it at that!

No, I am NOT defending Google. There is a serious problem with them: they have a virtual monopoly on the flow of information (and thus power) in our society and concentrating this much power in one place is always a bad idea...for obvious reasons.

BUT - if you really want to see the evil Google is turning to, just follow the battle between YouTube and its users, specifically the science channels, since Google bought up YouTube.

The rating systems have changed - burying some of the most popular videos so deeply, they virtually cannot be 'stumbled upon' unless one is already aware of them and know how to find them.

There is no mechanism to protect channels from false DMCA charges - even though there are well known people who file tons of them (one semi-sane person is known to have filed several hundred false DMCA claims: YouTube, even though they know his history, suspended the accused channels without warning and the users had to fight very hard and long to get them re-instated...

The 'look' of the channels has changed, channeling users to the commercial accounts (who pay Google for their YouTube channels) over the free ones, even though the official policy claims there is no bias...

And that is just the tip of the iceberg....

In other words, Google's behaviour through YouTube shows that they have thrown away their old motto 'Don't be evil' and are willing to subvert systems they present as impartial. We would be foolish if we trusted the bulk of our society's information access to them.

The sad truth is - there currently no viable competition (without at least as much, if not more 'evil baggage' attached to them)!

JR said...

Anon, Good points, though I seriously doubt that Lawrence Solomon would be promoting MS and Bing out of self-interested ties to MS.

Xanthippa, No joke and I'm not sure what you refer to in relation to foreign governments shunning MS. Could it be issues of licensing and pricing and/or simple anti-Americanism (which is not exactly in short supply)? Some foreign gov'ts push open-source software no doubt for some or all of these reasons.

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