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[flagged] Google is silently censoring search results (twitter.com/dcposch)
53 points by feross 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments



Different search results = censoring? I'm genuinely curious as to the crux of the point here.

This is a bad comparison for many reasons, but if three newspapers have one headline and the fourth does not, that's not censorship. Wouldn't the free market fans suggest just using another service?


It _is_ censoring. It's not just different search results. The website is nowhere in the Google results, just the Wiki page and news publications.


> It _is_ censoring. It's not just different search results. The website is nowhere in the Google results, just the Wiki page and news publications.

Google does that all the time.

At the rate this is going, I think we're soon going to see spammers self-righteously denouncing the censorship of their websites.


Context matters.

Censorship by a state would include reading mail/e-mail, controlling what is said on social media, controlling what is published in newspapers, what is broadcast on television or radio.

That's problematic. And that's clear censorship.

What you describe is far more murky territory.

If I build a public database which curates newspapers in my local region and I decide to not include a particular outlet, am I engaging in censorship? Not really. As a private actor, it's my prerogative to curate by my own standards. Moreover, one can always go to the library and find that journal in their holdings.

The same principle is true at the scale of search engines. These aren't public institutions. These are private enterprises. They are free to curate content in their own particular fashion. And if one doesn't include your website, well, others might and will.

The issue here isn't that Google doesn't show the website in the search results.

The issue is that Google dominates the search market, and has locked the attention the usage and the vast majority of people using the Web/Internet.

That's a different issue which has less to do with censorship, and everything with being able to establish and hold a monopoly in a particular yet massively important market - information dissemination and communications - for almost 2 decades.

Ask yourself this: Would you or the author of that tweet have made the same loud objection if a website didn't appear in DuckDuckGo?


Why should google link out to a site known to help organize a violent march against democratic processes? Yes Google censors search results, this is nothing new. The only issue you seem to have is that this time instead of it being some ISIS people getting hit its some larping Nazis that performed an actual attack.

Google can choose what is served from their index, end of story. Anyone saying otherwise is tyrannical. If you don't like the results you are getting use something else.


> Google can choose what is served from their index, end of story

And the people can demand that google be broken up into bite sized pieces to promote competition - as we are currently seeing in the DOJ case against google


And the internet might be a better place with a broken up Google.


>Why should google link out to a site known to help organize a violent march against democratic processes?

Source? That's not AT ALL what happens on sites like these (imageboards). These sites have the same risk of having a few psychopaths as sites like Facebook. Actually there are more on Facebook. And these sites have moderators. Do your own research. Browse for awhile and you'll see how ridiculously the reality is different from what you've been getting from the mass media. That's why these sites are censored. Not because there are criminals plotting schemes on them, but because the discussions there are so against the "official" narrative that there are people scared that more and more will realize just how brutally they have been lied to by governments, wealthy organizations, etc.


This censorship seems to be pretty common practice by Google; they did it late last year with Gab (no links to Gab itself, just the negative headlines and wiki preview) and only reinstated the results - citing a "mistake" - when it was highlighted by higher-profile tweeters on the political right.

This seems to me a separate issue as to whether or not sites like that should be suppressed - the point is it wasn't discussed, sanctioned or announced via any public consultation or policy (it clearly wasn't the official policy due to the reinstatement and reason given) and there was no response to protests until it became higher-profile.


Google does a lot of stuff with search results. Bing and DDG are just a click away if you prefer their results. But beware, there are results you find on Google that you won’t find on Bing (and most are not political in the slightest unless you consider tech support forum answers political).


Sounds to me like we need a search aggregator like we had back in the good ole Web 1.0 days.


We need a new browser. If Google can’t censor the web, they’ll make changes at the browser level. I would be surprised if they haven’t already started using the browser to filter unwanted information.


Why a new browser? Use Firefox


Mozilla has publicly supported deplatforming and called for additional steps, including to “turn on by default the tools to amplify factual voices over disinformation”

https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2021/01/08/we-need-more-than-d...


I see two images of results, but not what they're supposed to indicate: Were these taken at different times? Same time by different user or incognito?

Either way, Google does customize search results for users so while I could believe this is possible, I don't know that the images provided offer clear evidence-- also I still get the "uncensored" version.


There are a total of 4 images. The first two are Bing and DuckDuckGo which show the website URL as the first result when you are searching for 8kun. The last two images are from Google search results, actually one page but split into two images so it clearly shows that Google does not link to the site AT ALL.


So the accusation is they're not linking directly to 8chan or whatever the latest iteration is?

I find myself not being able to care, even on principle.


Organizing all the worlds information as we see fit.


What is censoring for search results? I think is this: search for a definite term (like a site name) and get no result, where previously you got many results.

This happens all the time, but is not noticeable for large numbers of people.

This may be argued as acceptable when it comes to political speech (as it is the fashion these days). This is also not new at all, historically. Whenever an authority adopts or makes a map of a territory, the authority defines what exists and what not. Google is a map making company.

But when there is no obvious political reason? Then there is copyright (Sci-Hub), or other private entities interests into play.

You may argue that everything is political, though...

My blog [1] mentions that since October 2020 most of my recent posts are no longer discoverable via google or ddg search. Why? perhaps because I repeatedly made comparisons with the East India Company :)

[1]https://chorasimilarity.wordpress.com/about/


> most of my recent posts are no longer discoverable via google or ddg search

Actually, that's most interesting in that ddg and google are using totally separate crawlers (albeit ddg heavily uses bing), which implies that whatever the cause is not localized to just google.



I thought it was a well known fact that Google censored search results. Since the beginning.


This can't continue the way it's been going.


It's hilarious that people say a search engine is censoring it's results... That is literally the entire point of a search engine!

A search engines goal is to take billions of webpages and try to "censor" 99.9999% of them.

If you don't like the results you get, switch search engines (there are tons of great options), or build your own. And yes, building your own is not that hard and there are a ton of tutorials online on how to do it.


Search engines typically surface what people search for based on some semi-secret sauce. That’s all good.

What’s not good is overriding those results not because of keyword bids, but because they deem the link inappropriate despite a lack of some oversight like a court injunction.

They simply don’t like one side of the conversation. It’s not as though people on the other side don’t have extreme opinions and have their sites black-holed.


To elevate the kind of radical violent conspiratorial fringe that needs a separate platform to the status of "one side" of an implicitly two sided debate does a gross disservice to the variety of political opinion, and to the many reasonable conservative viewpoints that run into no difficulties expressing themselves in a more open forum like e.g. Twitter.


Right now it is entirely likely that people searching for 8chan are interested in it's news value, so surfacing news stories about it-- with the wikipedia results at the top providing a "what is 8chan" result-- is entirely possible that it's part of the "secret sauce"

Regardless, the true purpose of the "secret sauce" is to maximize use of the search engine to maximize ad impressions & revenue. It could very well be the case that putting the actual 8chan website at the top of the listings wouldn't actually do that. Advertisers are probably more likely to target attributes associated with people searching for 8chan-- news seekers-- rather than targeting 8chan itself. Just a guess though-- I'm essentially saying this behavior doesn't necessarily have to be Google messing with it's secret sauce (although that is entirely possible too)


> That is literally the entire point of a search engine!

There is obviously a difference between censoring to push a political agenda and sorting results by relevancy based on a deterministic algorithm

> If you don't like the results you get, switch search engines

I think putting pressure on the existing DOJ antitrust case against google is a better alternative


Would you want the government to force you to host unsavory characters in your home that you disliked?

That is what you are asking the government to force Google to do.

If Google is doing something bad, then customers will switch to Bing or DuckDuckGo or one of many other options. If the government does something bad, you are out of luck. Don't rely on the government or it will become powerful enough to one day take something you love. It's better to rely on the free market to surface the best options.


> Would you want the government to force you to host unsavory characters in your home that you disliked? That is what you are asking the government to force Google to do.

By supporting the antitrust case against google I am asking the government to force people to put unsavory characters in their homes?

I’m sorry that just doesn’t track... at all.

I do support the free market, and to have that we the people have opted to prevent megacorps from stifling competition and wielding their powers unjustly.


> Would you want the government to force you to host unsavory characters in your home that you disliked?

Google is a company, not a private residence. The government has a long history of forcing companies to host people that those companies would rather not (it is illegal, for instance, to refuse to rent to hispanics, even if you've decided that they're unsavory).


Algorithms are not censorship - and - there isn't effective competition in search.

I support Angela Merkel's view that these entities can't take decisions to censor information entirely upon their own volition.

As the OP pointed out, we need a better way.


A mere 20 years ago Google did not exist at all. Within 5 years of its start it was extremely popular. Things happen even faster online now. If a search engine that was much better than Google came out, Google would be dropped by almost everyone within a year.

If you give the government the power to decide who a private business has to allow in, that's a power you will probably never get back. And the government is far more likely to use it in nefarious ways than a private corporation can.


"If there were a better product it would win" is really a little naive, it's like saying "if a startup just built a new Jumbo Jet, the would win that Trillion dollar market".

Many industries have huge natural barriers - and more importantly - systematic barriers built by incumbents. Android, Chrome are 'moats' that are used to ensure Google wins. No other search engine could develop enough momentum to build the quality necessary while up against those moats and natural barriers.

"If you give the government the power to decide who a private business has to allow in, that's a power you will probably never get back. "

Right now, you have absolutely zero power over how Google implements their policies, ergo, nor you nor I have any power to 'give away'. While I don't always entirely trust how government intervenes and there are risks, I trust them more than I do large corporations.

Your arguments don't work because they are so general that they also work against every other government regulation. No FTC? No FDA? No FCC and 'Net Neutrality'? No Privacy Laws? No worker regulations?

These basic arguments about gov vs. private practice generally become moot in the face of nuanced reality.

Part of the role of government is to help ensure a competitive landscape, to enforce anti-trust and to regulate where necessary. That's why they exist.


Can we please not be Facebook and just act like we know what the word "censor" means




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