GOOGLE EMPLOYEES are constantly battling the opposing forces of free speech and censorship.
A new report leaked to a right-wing news site that we're not going to mention but it's the opposite of "dumb Lisa"*, is a collection of resources which the makers' hope will provide the world with evidence that Google "protects users from harmful conduct while still supporting free speech."
It's a common dilemma in Silicon Valley. Websites have effectively become gatekeepers of free speech and it now appears to be up to them to know how to do the right thing.
In fact, the document warns that Google and others like them are "performing a balancing act between two incompatible positions," and that it will inevitably and always be impossible to please everyone all the time, especially as all the major players have their own policies on what is ok and what isn't that don't always tally.
In response to the report, Google told The Verge: "Google is committed to free expression — supporting the free flow of ideas is core to our mission. Where we have developed our own content policies, we enforce them in a politically neutral way. Giving preference to content of one political ideology over another would fundamentally conflict with our goal of providing services that work for everyone."
Which is all fine and dandy, but it all still speaks of a world that, by natural sociological evolution, is moving towards governing of standards by private enterprises, rather than governments, and that comes not only with responsibilities for the giants like Google, but for the world at large to make sure its not abused.
Of course, in repressive regimes like China, that's a whole other story, with companies having to reduce their level of free speech to meet the government's standards.
And that doesn't sit well at Google, where a rumoured censored version of its search engine for China has caused so many internal ruckuses over exactly what concessions of freedom Google will have to make, it has seen protests and resignations from within, despite not even being officially announced.
In fact, despite being a prime example of why the report was produced, it isn't even mentioned. μ
*yes, we get the irony of using censorship in an article about free speech, but seriously, screw those guys.
We should be shocked, but...
But the search giant has now squashed the bug
But it's not yet available here in Blighty