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Google as editor of content and defender of free speech...when convenient

The Financial Times had a noteworthy article about Google's role as an editor of content and defender of free speech -- when Google finds it convenient: "Thailand lifts Youtube ban after Google agrees to block some clips."

This article is an interesting juxtaposition to Google CEO Eric Schmidt's very recent comments on the importance of free speech at a speech before the Progress and Freedom Foundation

  • "We need to defend freedom of speech as more speech comes on line. ...Let’s do this in the right way. Let’s preserve the openness and the freedom of speech principles. You could use Internet censorship, for example, as a non-tariff trade barrier, which we all need to fight because governments, especially non-U.S. governments, have an incentive to some degree to control the populations -- to do all the things that are obvious if you’re afraid of empowering your citizens."

 The FT article is a good opportunity to review if Google's actions support Google's rhetoric when it comes to Google defending free speech...

  • Thailand's IT minister told the FT that: "Google agreed to block any YouTube clips that the the government considered in violation of Thai laws, including legislation prohibiting comment deemed offensive by the Thai monarchy."
  • Google "has been criticized for kowtowing to Beijing's demand to censor search results of its chinese language sites..."
  • Google has agreed " prevent access in Turkey to material that insults the country's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk."

Bottomline:  Google is not just an computer algorithm that searaches and finds desired information -- it is also an editorial filter where Google management decides what portion of the world's information is made accessible to whom.

  • Never forget, Google is the largest new media content editor on the planet.