Google censoring leftist, pro-peace Internet sites


A broad range of left-wing, progressive, and anti-war sites have had their traffic rankings fall in recent months

By Andre Damon and Niles Niemuth in the USA:

New Google algorithm restricts access to left-wing, progressive web sites

27 July 2017

In the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing “fake news,” the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly.

On April 25, 2017, Google announced that it had implemented changes to its search service to make it harder for users to access what it called “low-quality” information such as “conspiracy theories” and “fake news.”

The company said in a blog post that the central purpose of the change to its search algorithm was to give the search giant greater control in identifying content deemed objectionable by its guidelines. It declared that it had “improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates” in order “to surface more authoritative content.”

Google continued, “Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag.” These moderators are instructed to flag “upsetting user experiences,” including pages that present “conspiracy theories,” unless “the query clearly indicates the user is seeking an alternative viewpoint.”

Google does not explain precisely what it means by the term “conspiracy theory.” Using the broad and amorphous category of fake news, the aim of the change to Google’s search system is to restrict access to alternative web sites, whose coverage and interpretation of events conflict with those of such establishment media outlets as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

By flagging content in such a way that it does not appear in the first one or two pages of a search result, Google is able to effectively block users’ access to it. Given the fact that vast amounts of web traffic are influenced by search results, Google is able to effectively conceal or bury content to which it objects through the manipulation of search rankings.

Just last month, the European Commission fined the company $2.7 billion for manipulating search results to inappropriately direct users to its own comparison shopping service, Google Shopping. Now, it appears that Google is using these criminal methods to block users from accessing political viewpoints the company deems objectionable.

The World Socialist Web Site has been targeted by Google’s new “evaluation methods”. While in April 2017, 422,460 visits to the WSWS originated from Google searches, the figure has dropped to an estimated 120,000 this month, a fall of more than 70 percent.

Even when using search terms such as “socialist” and “socialism,” readers have informed us that they find it increasingly difficult to locate the World Socialist Web Site in Google searches.

According to Google’s webmaster tools service, the number of searches resulting in users seeing content from the World Socialist Web Site (that is, a WSWS article appeared in a Google search) fell from 467,890 a day to 138,275 over the past three months. The average position of articles in searches, meanwhile, fell from 15.9 to 37.2 over the same period.

David North, chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the WSWS, stated that Google is engaged in political censorship.

“The World Socialist Web Site has been in existence for nearly 20 years,” he said, “and it has developed a large international audience. During this past spring, the number of individual visits to the WSWS each month exceeded 900,000.

“While a significant percentage of our readers enter the WSWS directly, many web users access the site through search engines, of which Google is the most widely used. There is no innocent explanation for the extraordinarily sharp fall in readers, virtually overnight, coming from Google searches.

“Google’s claim that it is protecting readers from ‘fake news’ is a politically motivated lie. Google, a massive monopoly, with the closest ties to the state and intelligence agencies, is blocking access to the WSWS and other left and progressive web sites through a system of rigged searches.”

In the three months since Google implemented the changes to its search engine, fewer people have accessed left-wing and anti-war news sites. Based on information available on Alexa analytics, other sites that have experienced sharp drops in ranking include WikiLeaks, Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News and Truthout. Even prominent democratic rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International appear to have been hit.

According to Google Trends, the term “fake news” roughly quadrupled in popularity in early November, around the time of the US election, as Democrats, establishment media outlets and intelligence agencies sought to blame “false information” for the electoral victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

On November 14, the New York Times proclaimed that Google and Facebook “faced mounting criticism over how fake news on their sites may have influenced the presidential election’s outcome,” and they would be taking measures to combat “fake news.”

Ten days later, the Washington Post published an article, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” which cited an anonymous group known as PropOrNot that compiled a list of “fake news” sites spreading “Russian propaganda.”

The list included several sites categorized by the group as “left-wing.” Significantly, it targeted globalresearch.ca, which often reposts articles from the World Socialist Web Site.

After widespread criticism of what was little more than a blacklist of anti-war and anti-establishment sites, the Washington Post was forced to publish a retraction, declaring, “The Post, which did not name any of the sites, does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings.”

On April 7, Bloomberg News reported that Google was working directly with the Washington Post and the New York Times to “fact-check” articles and eliminate “fake news.” This was followed by Google’s new search methodology.

Three months later, out of the 17 sites declared to be “fake news” by the Washington Post ’s discredited blacklist, 14 had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent, and some sites saw their global reach fall by as much as 60 percent.

“The actions of Google constitute political censorship and are a blatant attack on free speech,” North stated. “At a time when public distrust of establishment media is widespread, this corporate giant is exploiting its monopolistic position to restrict public access to a broad spectrum of news and critical analysis.”

Does the WSWS write about Leon Trotsky? Not according to Google.

An intensive review of Internet data has established that Google has severed links between the World Socialist Web Site and the 45 most popular search terms that previously directed readers to the WSWS. The physical censorship implemented by Google is so extensive that of the top 150 search terms that, as late as April 2017, connected the WSWS with readers, 145 no longer do so: here.

Google’s new search protocol is restricting access to 13 leading socialist, progressive and anti-war web sites: here.

The New Censorship. How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites? Here.

German, Turkish NATO governments censor G20 journalists


This 6 July 2017 video is called Germany: Journalist knocked down by police officer during G20 protests, Hamburg.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Consternation in German press about locking journalists out of G20 summit

Today, 17:56

At the G20 summit in Hamburg last week, the admission certificates of 32 journalists were annulled. Four of them have worked in Kurdish areas in southeastern Turkey in the past. The German press suspects that Turkey has put pressure on the German government to prevent journalists from getting access to the G20.

The journalists’ accreditations were taken away without giving reasons. A photographer of the magazine Der Spiegel had collected his accreditation on Wednesday but was no longer admitted to the conference center in Hamburg on Friday.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert claimed that the decision was taken only on the basis of German intelligence. NOS correspondent Jeroen Wollaars says that Seibert is always believed uncritically by the German media. It is remarkable that this is not the case now.

Photos

The journalists Chris Grodotzki and Björn Kietzmann went to the press with their story. They worked together near Diyarbakir in Southeast Turkey, where they had taken photos. Both were arrested for accusation of espionage and held imprisoned for one and a half day. They think that this event in Turkey is the background of the withdrawal of their G20 admission certificate.

Turkish journalist Adil Yigit, whose accreditation was also withdrawn, also points at the Turkish government. He took a picture of President Erdogan with the head of the Turkish secret service in Hamburg. Yigit suspects that the Turkish intelligence service has passed that on to the German service.

New information reveals extent of attack on democratic rights during G20 protest in Hamburg: here.

Facebook censoring feminism


British Matchwomen's Festival

After Facebook banning a famous Vietnam war atrocity photobanning women’s reproductive rights information … etc. Meanwhile, eg, the Dutch Nederlandse Volks-Unie neonazis are free to spout racism, sexism, marches promoting that, etc. on their Facebook page.

By Ben Chacko in Britain:

Facebook censoring feminism with ban on mentioning women, say activists

Friday 23rd June 2017

Bid to promote the Matchwomen’s festival falls foul of bizarre social media post guidelines

FACEBOOK stands accused of censoring feminist content after one of London’s most popular left festivals was barred from promoting its page on the site.

The annual Matchwomen’s festival commemorates the 1888 strike by women and girls at the Bryant & May match factory. This week it tried to boost the page inviting people to attend this year’s event, which takes place on July 1 in Camden — only to be refused.

Bewildered organiser Louise Raw was told Facebook would not promote pages that contain “profanity, harassment, or references to your audience’s personal characteristics (such as gender, race, age or name)” — and the page’s repeated use of the term “women” fell foul of the condition, even though it makes clear that men and children are equally welcome to attend.

“I can appreciate that Facebook would want to ban white supremacist events, but their ruling that ads must not mention gender, race or age means that Women of Colour would not be able to promote self-contained events, nor women who want a female-only safe space event for example for victims of abuse or rape,” she pointed out.

“It would presumably rule out the WASPI women’s pension campaign if they wanted to promote something relevant to the women affected.

“Meanwhile I can find no evidence that Facebook has an issue with events with all male or all-white panels.”

Academic and activist Dana Mills said it was “troubling” that Facebook was censoring left events “under the guise of anti-sectarianism.

“This merely furthers injustice and consolidates the Establishment narrative. What a shame that an event celebrating a successful strike that has made life better for women and men ever since is perceived as threatening and provokes censorship.”

And NUT executive member Kiri Tunks was appalled by the social media giant’s stance.

“How can minority or oppressed groups self-organise if they are barred from naming the basis of their oppression?” she asked.

“This event is about educating people on the amazing role played by women in establishing the labour movement, and we can’t talk about that?

“Young women rose up, took on a patriarchal system and won, and now women are being written out of history.

“Would they apply the same principle to the ‘personal characteristic’ of race? Would they agree with the critics who snipe that the Black Lives Matter movement should rename itself All Lives Matter, though that fails to recognise the particular oppression black people face and therefore prevents them from challenging it?”

Facebook had not responded to a request for comment by the time the Morning Star went to press.

British Conservatives threaten Grenfell Tower blogger for fire disaster warning


This video from Britain says about itself:

14 June 2017

LONDON fire action group posted warning on Grenfell Tower

An action group predicted the Grenfell Tower fire was an accident waiting to happen four years ago but claim their warnings fell on deaf ears.

The fire service confirmed this morning there had been a number of fatalities in the horrific blaze which was reported just after 1am today thought to have been caused by an exploding fridge.

It engulfed the 27-storey building where 600 people were said to be living in 120 rooms …

Grenfell Action Group said: ‘Watching breaking news about the Grenfell Tower fire catastrophe. Too soon to even guess at numbers of casualties and fatalities.

‘We have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in [Conservative oparty ruled] Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).

‘All our warnings fell on deaf ears. This was inevitable and just a matter of time.’

The group had been posting about their concerns of tower block‘s safety regularly calling for it to be torn down before it went up in flames in the early hours of this morning in White City.

Grenfell Tower is council-owned but the management of the building is down to an independent company – the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO).

Construction on the flats started in 1972 and was finished in 1974 when it was under complete council control, but in 1996, the KCTMO was handed the contract to manage the tower block.

A council spokeswoman told MailOnline: ‘The Council still owns the properties and retains responsibility for strategic housing policies and homeless people.

‘The relationship between the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) and the Council is governed by a management agreement, which covers all areas of the landlord business.

‘Whilst the KCTMO still enjoys a close working relationship with the Council, it is a completely separate company.’

Robert Black is the company’s Chief Executive Officer and he took office in 2009 having previously worked as Executive Director of Service at Circle Anglia for five years where he was responsible for services for 45,000 homes across seven companies including asset management.

Barbara Matthews is the Executive Director of Financial Services and ICT, Yvonne Birch is the Executive Director of People and Performance and Sacha Jevans is the Executive Director of Operations.

They are the four most senior members of KCTMO and according to papers seen by MailOnline, they earned £650,000 between them last year.

All four have been contacted individually by MailOnline and the company has been asked to make a comment, but nobody was available to do so.

Chillingly, back in November, while addressing the … Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), the group wrote: ‘It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.’

The action group believe the KCTMO have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the every day management of large scale social housing estates.

‘Unfortunately, the Grenfell Action Group have reached the conclusion that only an incident that results in serious loss of life of KCTMO residents will allow the external scrutiny to occur that will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation.’

The tower block underwent a £10million refurbishment which was completed in May last year, and improvements included the installation of insulated exterior cladding, new double glazed windows and a new communal heating system.

The two year project, which was designed and delivered by KCTMO in partnership with Rydon Construction, was a complex one as it took place with all 120 flats occupied throughout the time period.

Rydon turns over a massive £270million by carrying out development, maintenance and management throughout England.

Talking of the refurbishment, Robert Black, KCTMO’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We’re delighted to have worked in partnership with the Council to deliver this major regeneration of the tower. …’

More than one resident has claimed that there was no central fire alarm system for the tower block – or it had failed – and only smoke alarms in individual flats were working.

From RT.com:

Blogger gagged by [Conservative] council after warning about Grenfell Tower fire threat

14 June, 2017 16:09

A blogger who warned the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council of the dangers lurking in Grenfell Tower was threatened by local officials for writing about problems in the building.

Home to over 600 people, Grenfell Tower, in the Lancaster West estate, west London, was engulfed in flames in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The true scale of the tragedy is only gradually becoming clear.

As early as 2013, a man named Francis O’Connor, a member of the Grenfell Action Group (GAG), urged councillors and landlord Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) to address the fire safety risks that new works on the building would cause.

GAG had several times tried to warn the council and the landlord that the building of a [private] school and gym next to the estate would restrict emergency services’ access, including firefighting vehicles.

But a leaked letter reveals that officials at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea tried to silence the campaigners, sending a lawyer to threaten O’Connor.

“I am instructed that you previously posted blogs that have in general been critical of everything that takes place at Lancaster West in relation to the Kensington Academy Leisure Centre and investment on the estate,” solicitor Vimal Sarna wrote to O’Connor in July 2013.

It then instructs the group to delete the blog – an order the group did not follow.

In 2016, an article on the blog chillingly predicts that only a tragedy would bring serious attention to the tower’s problems.

“It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders,” the post reads.

“It is our conviction that a serious fire in a tower block or similar high density residential property is the most likely reason that those who wield power at the KCTMO will be found out and brought to justice!”

But the scandal seems to reach beyond local council remit, as the Mirror reports that former Housing Minister Brandon Lewis “sat on” information about the several fire risks in buildings such as Grenfell Tower.

According to the newspaper, Lewis did not take action on safety irregularities on tower blocks over 30 meters tall because it could “discourage building.” Instead he shrugged off suggestions that sprinklers should be installed in the block. Other ministers are believed to have also known about the damning evidence.

Grenwell Tower number of people killed now 17 and rising.

17 ARE DEAD IN LONDON APARTMENT FIRE And emergency services now estimate the death toll could rise much higher as they search the building for bodies. Authorities believe the death toll would have been worse had Muslims who lived in the building not been up for Ramadan when the fire began and alerted neighbors to the blaze. And here’s why the inferno has exposed the apartment’s controversial history. [HuffPost]

Hungarian regime censors newspaper for corruption revelations


Hungarians demonstrate against corruption by the Orban government

When media in Turkey expose corruption by the family of President Erdogan, the Erdogan regime reacts with police violence and censorship to these revelations (and to revelations about links between the Turkish government and ISIS terrorism).

When media expose the regime of the ‘Erdogan’ of Hungary, Viktor Orban, Mr Orban likewise reacts with censorship.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Critical Hungarian newspaper closed down after stories about corruption

8 October 2016, 20:25

The biggest left-political newspaper of Hungary is not published anymore. Journalists and opposition talk of a coup, and suspect that the regime of President Orban is behind it.

The owners of the newspaper (Nepszabadsag) say that financial losses forced them to take this decision, but that is strongly doubted. The end of publication follows on a number of critical articles about corruption.

Journalists say they were completely surprised by the closure. “Our first thought was about a coup. You will hear from us,” they wrote to readers on the Facebook page of the newspaper.

In recent years, many media have fallen into the hands of pro-Orban owners. On the sale of Nepszabadsag, with a circulation of 40,000, has been speculated for a long time.

Government corruption in Hungary: here.

Turkey’s Erdogan tries censoring Swedish documentary on Assyrian genocide


This video says about itself:

16 December 2010

The Assyrian Genocide (also known as Sayfo or Seyfo) refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The Assyrian population of northern Mesopotamia (the Tur Abdin, Hakkari, Van, Siirt regions of present-day southeastern Turkey and the Urmia region of northwestern Iran) was forcibly relocated and massacred by Ottoman (Turkish) forces between 1914 and 1920. Estimates on the overall death toll have varied. Contemporary reports placed the figure at 270,000, although recent estimates have revised that figure to as many as 500–750,000.

These two videos are the sequels.

From The Local in Sweden:

24 April 2016 15:25 GMT+02:00

The Turkish embassy in Stockholm tried to bring pressure to bear over a TV4 documentary, according to the station’s programme director, Viveka Hansson.

Hansson, in a statement on the TV4 website, said that she had been sent an e-mail by Arif Gulen, the press officer at the Turkish embassy, asking her to “reconsider the decision” to broadcast a documentary tonight about the slaughter by the Ottoman Empire of Christian Assyrians that occurred during the First World War.

Turkey has long rejected claims that the killing of some 275,000 Assyrians should be classified as a genocide. The mass killing, called Seyfo by Assyrians, is designated as a genocide by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

Hansson dismissed the request out of hand.

“We can never accept this. We will protest against any attempt to exert pressure that threatens freedom of expression,” Hansson said.

See also here.

Turkish journalists jailed for Hebdo cover: here.

Former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac convicted for ‘insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan’ on Instagram. Buyuksarac was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006: here.