Who’s watching the watchers?

This article
today on bbc.com is most troubling. Since you and I are apparently too dumb to check sources and make up our own minds, the partisans at Facebook and Google have anointed themselves judges of what’s “real news” and what’s “fake”.

If they just leave shit alone, it will work itself out in time as people realize when they’re being hoodwinked and stop visiting bullshit news sites. In my opinion, the Huffington Post publishes all kinds of nonsense, even outright lies. A few others immediately come to mind like Media Matters, factcheck.org, The Sierra Club. Somehow I doubt they’ll be included on that list of “fake” news sites. I saw just such a proposes list published today in the Los Angeles Times, written by a college professor. As > 90% of college professors are liberals, it wasn’t terribly surprising to find conservative news sites like Breitbart and RedState listed among the “fake”.

Who the hell are Google and Facebook to make these decisions? Their websites are, after all, private property so they can do whatever the hell they want. But when the majority of people search for answers to important questions on Google, I’m not at all comfortable with Google censoring out the answers they don’t like. Do we really want Facebook, another hyper-partisan company that has a poor reputation for honesty and transparency to be deciding what news is real and what’s nonsense?

It’s common knowledge that Google is, by far, the world’s leading search engine. As such, it has probably achieved that legal level we can call a monopoly. In the strict sense of the word, they are not a real monopoly because there are other search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. The problem with the others is that they don’t work as well. Google, for the most part, holds a virtual monopoly on information. And THAT is dangerous.

Back in ancient times, before the internet, if you wanted to get a message out, you had to either pay a publisher to run an ad or convince them to print your book. The internet gave everyone the ability to publish. It’s an information revolution the likes we haven’t seen since Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Now EVERYONE can have a printing press.

But when a small handful of companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter decide what most people see when they go online, they need to think long and hard before they go injecting their own political biases into content that people trust to be non-partisan. There’s a reason most people don’t trust news media outlets in the first place. Unfortunately, most everyone seems to blindly trust these companies. If they, especially Google, are on the verge of violating the public’s trust. That usually follows with regulations and/or litigation. Do we need to split up Google like we did with AT&T in the 80s?

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