Sunday, April 29, 2012

Censorship Of News By Google Is Forsaking Its Do Not Be Evil Motto

Google was known for its fairness, impartiality and respect for civil liberties. The motto of do not be evil gave great satisfaction and comfort to many of its users. Then commercial interests and governmental pressures started eroding the motto of do not be evil of Google.

Now most of us are aware that Google’s motto of do not be evil is at most a slogan these days as Google is openly engaging in censorship and posts filtering these days. In fact, a dedicated Blog titled Websites, Blogs and News Censorship by Google and India is in existence to register all such activities of Google and Indian government.

It is a single place platform where all sorts of past, present and future censorship activities of Google and Indian government have been registered and would be updated from time to time.

I would not try to reinvent the wheel here but would like to share my own observations in this regard. I am part of a citizen journalist platform that is also a part of Google news category. It is known as Cjnews India. For a considerable period of time, I was not bothered to comment upon the censorship activities of Google. However, the censorship by Google has crossed all the limits and I am forced to comment upon the same.

I have summarized the details of the latest censorship act of Google in the article titled Vodafone taxation dispute in India and censorship by Google and I am not going to repeat the entire history here. Rather, I would like to point towards a particular aspect that has skipped the attention of all my colleagues of Cjnews India. 

Whenever a news appears at Google, its pointer is also placed in the search engine results page (SERPs). Of course, this occurs for only the news that gains a top spot as per the significance and value of the news determined automatically by Google’s algorithm.

Of late our news fail to get top slot and this has nothing to do with quality of posts or any other technical reason or search engine optimisation (SEO) issue. This is fine with us but what is surprising is that even if by miracle and for a very short time span a news item appears at the top slot, its pointer at the SERPs never appears. This is happening for the past one year.

Further, if this is not enough and if still the news post is influential, significant and persistent enough to remain on top slot, Google engages in manual action and either removes the same from Google news altogether or removes its pointer for a temporary period.

Of course, if a post is removed for few hours as well, other news would overshadow it even if it reappears subsequently and it would remain on much lower pedestal. We were never bothered by this behaviour of Google as we are more interested in sharing our news and views rather than gaining top spot. But this has put a question mark upon Google’s own commitments, fairness, motto and claims.

If Google gives more importance to commercial interests and governmental pressures and ignores civil liberties in cyberspace, it would cease to be Google. After all, Google is not just a name but a symbol of trust and assurance that our civil liberties would be safeguarded.

But that trust and confidence has long eroded and so is Google motto of not being evil. I hope someone at Google, apart from those who are anxious to censor this post as well, am reading this post and would take notice of the deteriorating standards of Google’s civil liberty protection initiatives and efforts.