SIXTH COLUMN

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Is Google Purging Conservative News Sites and Blogs?

via: LGÏ

Something frighteningly ominous has been happening on the Internet lately: Google, without any prior explanation or notice, has been terminating its News relationship with conservative e-zines and web journals.

At first blush, one can easily ignore such business decisions by the most powerful company on the Internet as being routine. However, on closer examination, such behavior could give one relatively small technological corporation (when measured by the size of its workforce) a degree of political might that frankly dwarfs its current financial prowess...

The Results Speak For Themselves

Obviously, the results have been stellar. Google has quickly moved to the forefront of all things Internet. According to the April 2006 Nielsen/NetRatings report, 49 percent of all searches conducted in the U.S. in March 2006 were carried out on Google. This is an astounding market share that continues to grow.

In addition, a recent study by Hitwise ranked Google News as the fifth most visited news website behind Yahoo, the Weather Channel, MSNBC, and CNN, clearly making it a growing force in news aggregation.

This penetration has given the company unprecedented influence on society. Appearing on the first page of any word search result list all but assures higher hit rates, which equates to higher revenues for e-tailers as well as brick and mortar retailers using the web to drive traffic, and more reads for news and opinion providers.

In fact, Google ranking can actually be a determining factor in the success and, perhaps, very viability of online business ventures, especially to companies with limited or no domain name recognition. This reality has given rise to a cottage industry that offers enterprises measures to improve their standings. These Search Engine Optimization companies make use of approved and, sometimes, dubious techniques to coerce better page rankings and, thereby, superior public exposure.

Ghosts In The Machine

With this much influence and with so much at stake, challenges are inevitable. A lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, by Kinderstart.com, which seeks to prove that Google has become an "essential facility” to business, and that its arbitrary manner of banning sites from its search results represents anticompetitive behavior.

Maybe more important, when it comes to the dissemination of news, if any aggregator – be it Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. – is creating arbitrary rules to determine what will be accessible on its pages, the potential for bias in what gets reported rears its ugly little head.


Read it all.

2 Comments:

  • At Mon May 22, 01:06:00 PM PDT, Blogger Elmer's Brother said…

    Eleanor I linked to this post on EB on a similar post I made.

    I have also heard that Google leans sorta New Age so it doesn't really surprise me. Others have suggested e.g. at Democracy Frontline that because they are a private company doing anything meaningful may be difficult. Perhaps switching to another search engine might get their attention.

     
  • At Mon May 22, 06:28:00 PM PDT, Blogger George Mason said…

    If the premise of this article is correct, then our blogs and web sites must be pretty safe from the Grand Purger at Google. We are neither liberal, nor conservative, nor moderate. We march to a totally different drummer altogether, even if some our work resembles one or the other of the foregoing categories.

    Google has denied us Adsense because our content is unacceptable to them. I assume--in the absence of any criteria cited--that "acceptable" is purely arbitrary. I understand that the Googleers are Silicon Valley neoliberals. Thus, they had no problem accommodating the Red Commie Chinese in censoring their products used in that communist state. After all, scratch a liberal, uncover a communist.

     

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