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[dupe] Reporter: Google successfully pressured me to take down critical story (arstechnica.com)
82 points by MBCook on Sept 1, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments

"[In 2011,] Hill was a cub reporter at Forbes, where she covered technology and privacy. At the time, Google was actively promoting Google Plus and was sending representatives to media organizations to encourage them to add "+1" buttons to their sites. Hill was pulled into one of these meetings, where the Google representative suggested that Forbes would be penalized in Google search results if it didn't add +1 buttons to the site.

"Hill thought that seemed like a big story, so she contacted Google's PR shop for confirmation. Google essentially confirmed the story, and so Hill ran with it under the headline: "Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Suffers.""

""I was told by my higher-ups at Forbes that Google representatives called them saying that the article was problematic and had to come down. The implication was that it might have consequences for Forbes, a troubling possibility given how much traffic came through Google searches and Google News.""

Ugh. Google was reportedly throwing their search traffic weight around.

This is why I am scared to criticize Google. It knows who I am and it knows all the other businesses/websites that I own. It might try to damage/demonetize them subversively if it thinks that I am against it or its owners in any way. There will be no way I can prove it. It also shares it data with the US government.



This is why I am scared to criticize Google

You just did, in what followed that comment.

"Disclosure: My brother works at Google." We all know who is getting fired today. grabs popcorn Edit: Dupe already! Man do googlers on HN work fast.

Threatening to retaliate against the press is another thing (after the no-poaching agreement) Google should not have copied from Apple.

Not doubting you, but what instances were there of Apple threatening to retaliate against the press? Nothing is coming to mind when I try to recall such incidents and I imagine you have some specific ones you could point to.

Thanks for the links, I think I'd read the ZDNet article once before.

> Hill thought that seemed like a big story

It is a big story still. It sounds illegal.

To me this article feels like bandwagoning and hearsay. I am all for the critical attention aimed at Google, but there is simply no teeth to this story at all.

Edit: Thanks guys for the criticism about using the word hearsay in this context. I'll never use it that way again, pinky promise.

Hearsay is a legal term to prevent court cases from proceeding on information gleaned from witnesses who are not present. So, if you refuse to go to court as a witness, your coworker who overheard you talk about the case cannot sit in your place.

When someone writes a story about someone else's experience, that's not "hearsay," that's just "journalism." You may not think this story sounds credible, but if so you should come up with a different reason than "this is a story about someone else's experience therefore it's unreliable."

And anyway, you can just read the original article written by the person who experienced this, if you want to circumvent the "hearsay" thing: http://gizmodo.com/yes-google-uses-its-power-to-quash-ideas-...

Pardon me for using hearsay colloquially. Since we are not in a courtroom, I didn't think anyone would presume I'm using legalese, but I digress.

The issue I have with the article, referring my toothless remark, is this part

>told me that I needed to unpublish the story because the meeting had been confidential, and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure agreement between Google and Forbes. (I had signed no such agreement, hadn’t been told the meeting was confidential, and had identified myself as a journalist.)

So no one told you that the meeting was confidential, it was, and they asked you to take it down.

Ok, yawn.

Then from the article you posted:

>Somehow, very quickly, search results stopped showing the original story at all.

Pics or it didn't happen.

Then you follow through to see no proof anywhere. "Bandwagoning" as I said previously, on how this other group lost funding for criticizing Google. Then an email confirming the NDA and that Forbes willingly took down the article.

The whole time this person has no evidence or proof of these things actually occurring. Saying things like "it stopped showing up in search" "I couldn't find it in the cache" "no one told me there was an NDA" "I heard Google say the +1 button helped your rank" all lack any ability to verify.

Journalists love to journal, though. So let's continue with this gossip.

I totally get it, I would like to see more evidence also, so this story shouldn't be taken as gospel truth. However, it should also not be discounted as false. Google needs to respond to these accusations and make it clear what their stance is on this sort of behavior. Not because the accusations themselves are super credible, but because the accusations speak to a deep concern many of Google's customers have about the power they wield.

>I totally get it, I would like to see more evidence also

Right, me too. I can't find Google doing anything wrong here. The article was under NDA so Forbes and Google took it down willingly.

No proof of the +1 statement. No proof of Google censoring the article. We have no story here.

Unprovable accusations don't help your side of the fight, though. Even if they hint at something that is true.

It's totally provable though. Whether or not it will be proved is another matter. Other witnesses were presumably around so they might chime in. Certainly Google can step in and tell their side. The thing about these sorts of situations is corporations are very hesitant to come out and blatantly lie because it can come back to bite them in a huge way later on. So if Google comes out and refutes these claims, that will suggest they are PROBABLY not true, or at least very different than what we are being told. Not a perfect barometer for the truth, as they certainly can lie and get away with it, but it's better than nothing.

Google did chime in. Clearly you didn't read the article you linked to me.

You misunderstand, I was referring to WHY these sorts of articles have value, which seemed to me to be the topic of our exchange. Google would not have released a statement on this topic without this article. Likewise, if others have additional information (such as witnesses or journalists at other companies) they are more likely to come out with it.

Downvoted, because this comment insinuates wrong-doing without any evidence. Think twice before casting meritless aspersions.

It's ironic that you would say that considering that the article itself insinuates wrong-doing without any evidence.

"Without any evidence"??

I think first-hand accounts of conversations should count for something. I know it's not as good as a recording, but journalists frequently report on verbal answers to their questions.

How is this hearsay in any form?

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