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Is Google-Youtube a politically "neutral" gateway to Internet content and videos?

An article about Google's top lobbyist in the The Politico.com, a new media outlet that is dedicated to Politics, got me thinking about connecting-the-dots for Washington folks about the lack of Google-YouTube political "neutrality."   

  • There is an increasing body of evidence that Google may be less concerned about promoting a free, open and "democratic" Internet, and more concerned with promoting a regulated Internet for the benefit of "Democrats."

The Politico article noted: 

    • "And with 98% of of the company's campaign donations going to Democrats in that cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Google surely will be looking for returns soon." 
    • Google "company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are also widely believed to have the ear of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., whose district is not far from Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley."    

The article also noted how Google's search is increasingly being manipulated politically:

  • "Political operatives of all sorts try to manipulate Google technology to influence political outcomes through the use of viral videos and "Google bombs" which are attempts to manipulate the site's search functions to highlight negative information about a candidate."
  • "In a speech at the Republican Governors Association meeting in November, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the company would take steps to stop the practice of Google bombing, although he did not give details."
    • The reason Google's CEO is saying that to Republican Governors is that the most notorious abuses of Google searches have been to the detriment of Republicans:
      • Currently MyDD, a liberal blogging site and big proponent of net neutrality along with Moveon.org, are unabashedly using Google bombs to put Republican Presidential Candidate Sen. John McCain in a negative light. See this link for more details.
      • Google bought YouTube on October 9th 2006, the video sharing website that made famous the "macaca" comment by then Virginia Senator George Allen, that is widely credited for dooming his candidacy and tipping control of the Senate to Democratic control.
      • Republicans also were livid when Google bombs by liberal bloggers manipulated searches on George Bush so that they could only find results that said "miserable failure" 

 

Most interestingly, before the fall elections, Google CEO Schmidt gave a speech that warned politicians that elections will change forever.

 

    •  Reports of Schmidt's October 2006 political speech said:
      • "The outcome of general elections will be changed "within five years" by what Eric Schmidt calls "truth predictor" software. A politician may be making claims live during a debate and a voter will be searching the internet to validate those claims, in real time. Schmidt said, “One of my messages to them is to think about having every one of your voters online all the time, then inputting ‘is this true or false?’ We [at Google] are not in charge of truth but we might be able to give a probability.â€?
    • Right before an election, and to a political audience, the CEO of the leading Internet company of the world -- is talking about how Google may have plans to be the electoral arbiter of "political truth?"
      • Does Google's hubris and designs to affect elections, have no bounds?

Also interesting is that former Democratic Presidential candidate, and former Vice President Al Gore is called "an unofficial senior advisor to Google senior management" according to the Gore bio on Wikipedia. The buzz, which I have not been able to confirm, is that Mr. Gore has done very very well with his Google options.

    • The relevance of the Gore-Google connection is that Google's whole net neutrality position that has manifested itself in the democratic-authored bills on net neutrality is eerily similar to the hyper-regulatory approach the Gore-Hundt FCC applied in implementing the 1996 Telecom Act that ultimately proved disastrous and was overturned by the courts.    

So why is Google's overt lack of "political neutrality" important and significant?

  • Google has 47% market share of the search business and is the dominant gatekeeper for finding all content on the net: news from newspapers, TV, radio, magazines, blogs, online news, and all other sources, etc. That share has been rapidly rising.
  • With the acquisition of Youtube, Google-Youtube has 57.7% of the video sharing market segment per Hitwise, as reported by Investors Business Daily today.
  • Moreover, Google just announced that it was adding videos from its YouTube company to its search results as reported by USA Today.  
    • This will further reinforce Google's dominant gatekeeper control of all information "political' whether it be text, audio or video.

Dots Connected:

Never before has one company concentrated more real control over any mass medium as much as Google has cornered in being the increasingly dominant gatekeeper to all Internet content.

  • Traditionally media concentration and control over what content people see has been a "hot button" political issue for both parties. No politician wants to be beholden to any one source for too much of their access to voters.
    • Google's secret discrimination algorithm in its search engine, essentially sells its results to the highest bidder.
    • Because Google's search parameters are secret, and because search results beyond the first or second page of search results "don't exist" for all practical purposes -- how would one ever know if Google didn't have a search bias built in that supports their Democrat allies on selected issues -- or on net neutrality where Google is clearly not "neutral."
      • In Schmidt's response to the Republican Governors on Google bombs, he said he would take steps to stop this political manipulation it. 
      • Will it be Google employees, who gave 98% to Democrats in the last cycle, that will be Schmidt's "neutral" overseers that intervene in selected search results to correct political manipulation?  
      • How do we know this has been done and if the intervention in fact is neutral? 
      • How do we know whether the secret algorithm is really fixed or if it was just made less obvious to detect.
      • Without any third party review of Google's search discrimination biases, how can anyone know or trust that the searches are legitimate and not driven by a hidden business or political biases?   

It seems to me one of the biggest untold story in politics and technology, is how much concentrated power Google has over new nedia and the Internet, and that noone seems to be connecting the dots in the blogsphere or in the mainstream media.

  • My question to Democrats is, do you oppose media concentration on principle?
  • Or do you only oppose media concentration when it might favor Republicans?  
  • It must be awfully intoxicating to Democrats to think that the dominant gateway to the Internet may be a not-so-neutral Internet gatekeeper interested in tilting the playing field to Democrats?  
Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths