Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
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When power of any kind is wielded by a single person, entity, organisation or corporation, bad things generally tend to happen.
Such entities are galled monopolies, dictatorships or governments and they all eventually start believing that they have more rights than the rest of us... simply by virtue of their size and power.
This self-appointed righteousness is abhorrent to most of us but is something that those in power, be it economic, political or influential power of any sort, believe is simply fair and just.
Sadly, the news I read today shows that Google has slipped even further into this "we know what's best for you" mindset. An attitude which has seen it go further down the path of shaping and censoring the content you and I see on the internet.
I am not happy about this, not happy at all -- and neither should you be.
What am I talking about?
I'm talking about the content of this BBC story.
What gives Google the right to decide that any one news source is more valid, relevant, accurate or worthy than any other?
In a free, democratic world this is called one thing: censorship.
Okay, they're not actually blocking access to news stories from RT and Sputnik but, given the way that most of the world relies so heavily on Google's search, the effect is very similar.
The hypocrisy of Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt's statement that "I am strongly not in favour of censorship" it is clear that Google can no longer be trusted to act objectively or honestly as a provider of services on the Net.
"Don't be evil", the Google corporate mantra which helped push the company to the position of king of the Net is well and truly a lie today.
Why should we care?
Well this is an occasion where at least the company has been honest about its shaping of the content we get to see. We've also seen some statements in respect to the way it selectively discriminates against certain types of videos while promoting others on its YouTube service.
The real worry is that we don't know just how often and how much the company does this sort of thing without our knowledge and without disclosing such.
It used to be that the media shaped public opinion and the people's view of the world but now, because Google shapes what you see of the media, they have taken that crown and that power for themselves.
One can only imagine the things that a profit-centric corporation that is also constantly seeking to curry favour with the US government of the day can do with such power -- and most people wouldn't even be aware that they're being gamed.
Now I like to think that I'm smart enough to factor in Google's manipulations when drawing my own picture of the world around me and when seeking out the truth. However, I suspect that the vast majority of Joe Public are not quite so aware of what's going on, nor are they going to be diligent enough to do the extra work required to get a more objective view of events. This means that Google now covertly influences the thoughts, opinions and even actions of billions of people.
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