"People Are So Afraid Of Google Now": Here's Why

Google, pardon Alphabet’s efforts to influence the American political discourse (not to mention presidential election outcome) stretch far beyond the company’s penchant for subtly disadvantaging independent and conservative thinkers on platforms like YouTube. By financially supporting left-leaning policy shops, Google’s parent company has helped raise a liberal army intent on hashing out policy minutiae to help bend US policy to their benefactors’ advantage.

But what happens when these supposedly “independent” think tanks publish something that displeases their corporate master? As one researcher at the left-leaning New America think tank learned, the punishment is swift and severe.

Barry Lynn, formerly a top researcher at New America, learned that lesson the hard way after publishing a paper praising European Union antitrust regulators for fining Google nearly $3 billion for purportedly rigging its search algorithm to favor its own services over its rivals.

According to the New York Times, the New America Foundation has received more than $21 million in funding from Google, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt and his family’s foundation since the think tank was first established in 1999. The money helped establish New America as an “elite voice” in policy debates on the American left.

“But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had been chairman of New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.”

Slaughter, a close ally of the Clintons who’s best known for her 2012 Atlantic Cover Story “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” quickly caved.

The statement disappeared from new America’s website, only to be reposted without explanation a few hours later. But word of Mr. Schmidt’s displeasure quickly rippled  through New America, which employs more than 200 people, including dozens of researchers, writers and scholars, most of whom work in sleek Washington officers where the main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab. The episode left some people concerned that Google intended to discontinue funding, while others worried whether the think tank could truly be independent if it had to worry about offending its donors.”

The answer to that last question, as employees of New America quickly learned, is, obviously, no, it can't. A few days after the incident Slaughter summoned to Lynn to her office, where she summarily dismissed him – along with 10 of his underlings.

“Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google, which is now part of a large corporate entity known as Alphabet, for which Mr. Schmidt serves as executive charman.

 

Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that ‘the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,’ according to emails from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team – nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows – would be exiled from New America."

While she asserted in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, that the decision was ‘in no way based on the content of your work,’ Ms. Slaughter accused Mr. Lynn of ‘imperiling the institution as a whole.’”

Lynn, who eventually shared his story with the NYT, blasted Google’s aggressive tactics, which the company has denied through its communications machine.

And the punchline, which also serves as the title for this post: "Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings.” said Lynn. “People are so afraid of Google now.

In a series of statements published on Twitter, Slaughter and New America slammed the NYT’s story as “absolutely false.”

 

In a separate email sent last year, Slaughter castigated Lynn for organizing a conference where he intended to criticize tech companies’ hegemonic influence.

“We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points,” Ms. Slaughter wrote in an email to Mr. Lynn, urging him to ‘just THINK about how you are imperiling funding for others.’”  

Slaughter is now reportedly helping the Open Markets team secure financing for a new, separate nonprofit entity. However, no money will be forthcoming from Google.

Google spent more than $9.5 million on lobbying during the first half of 2017, more than almost any other company. It has helped organize conferences at which key regulators overseeing investigations into the company were presented with pro-Google arguments, sometimes without disclosure of Google’s role in funding NA, according to the NYT.

The company has also donated to more than 170 groups from across the political spectrum, according to voluntary disclosures on its website.

What was that about “don’t be evil”?

Comments

jcaz Wed, 08/30/2017 - 17:53 Permalink

Was the $9.5M in influence peddling you spent fake too, Eric?Fuck off and die....  Is that "clearerer-er"?Speaking of fake news, how are those reimbursements for fake clicks going?  I haven't got my check yet.....

erkme73 Mr. Universe Wed, 08/30/2017 - 19:33 Permalink

The real question is why is such influence legal?  It's clear that if any one of us had a company as large and powerful as google, we would do everything possible to not only maintain, but also grow our influence everywhere.  If you believe in captialism, you have to believe that the profit motive requires such influence.I've used this analogy before, but it's really no different than leaving a raw t-bone steak on your coffee table and heading off to work.  When your Rottweiler eats it in  your absence, is it really the dog's fault?  Or is it the fault of the person who left it on the table?Google's ability to influence through bribes is the problem.   Laws should exist (and be enforced) that prevent such influence - and when it is found, the consequences ought to be so catastrophic, that no organization would even consider attempting it.But, that would mean an end to the revolving door between corporate America and regulators.  It would mean preventing contributions/bribes to politicians.  It would mean banning anything but small individual contributions to campaigns.   And since that's like to never happen, we're faced with attacking companies who, like the Rottweiler, exploit every legal vehicle to exhert influence and control.

In reply to by Mr. Universe

rrrr erkme73 Wed, 08/30/2017 - 20:01 Permalink

Humans are not in business with Rottweilers. The real comparison would be if you left a T-Bone steak in your refrigerator and your neighbor ate it. It would be his fault. So no. It's not your fault. It's the person's fault who actually did it. Dogs don't count. Humans aren't dogs.

In reply to by erkme73

sessinpo erkme73 Wed, 08/30/2017 - 23:14 Permalink

Why is it legal? Because the system is corrupt at most every level. It was ruled in court that corporations are people so taking away their ability to donate (bribe) is an infringement on their freedom of speech.This is another example of why the entire system should be taken down and reworked. Just electibg a President to reform the system will not work. Right now we have 3 branches of government checkning and balancing each other not for the protection of its citizens, but to see which branch will push their big government policy. All 3 branches of govetnment want big government.

In reply to by erkme73

Honey-Badger (not verified) jcaz Wed, 08/30/2017 - 17:55 Permalink

If everyone switched to something other then Chrome, switched to Duck Duck Go, used adblock and got rid of their gmail Google would wither and die within a year or two.Make the switch ya big dummy takes a few minutes.

In reply to by jcaz

LotUnsold Honey-Badger (not verified) Wed, 08/30/2017 - 18:36 Permalink

Have you used duckduckgo?  I tried for a week and found it to be educationally sub-normal.  As one example I was looking for the page for the benchmark on a CPU.  In google you enter the processor number and it will normally already be suggesting 'specifications' or 'benchmark' plus others.  Certainly if you press 'b' then benchmark will be at the top of the list.  In duckduckgo you can type in the first five letters, bench, and you still won't be there.  Its suggestion is "benchpress".  FFS!

In reply to by Honey-Badger (not verified)

prmths2 any_mouse Thu, 08/31/2017 - 00:56 Permalink

Over the past year I have run a specific comparison between Google and DuckDuckGo a number of times, and Google typically produces at least twice as many hits as DuckDuckGo. Today the score was Google 45 to DuckDuckGo 19. Try this simple test yourself and search for "shithead Schumer" After posting this, it will be interesting to see if the score changes going forward.edit: this post appeared in the Google test search within minutes after posting. 

In reply to by any_mouse

SmokeOrMirrors Honey-Badger (not verified) Wed, 08/30/2017 - 21:46 Permalink

I've found getting away from Google is more difficult than you would think.  They are embedded on many websites that I visit in the form of Google analytics and Google apis,  not to mention they pretty much own web advertising.  Ad blockers will only go so far and web sites will even feed the fact that you're running an ad-blocker to Google.   They also own the Android phone OS,  and although I have neither an Apple or Android phone,  I still have to use my Android tablet for a few things,  although I am researching ways for it to not have any contact with Google.  The other thing that they own is Youtube which has been an important source of information for me, I would love if someone could come up with a viable alternative for that,  their censoring of free speech on Youtube has just been a disgrace.   Google manages to make money off of all of these things even without their search engine,  and even off of what you click on without your consent. 

In reply to by Honey-Badger (not verified)

FarCanal Honey-Badger (not verified) Thu, 08/31/2017 - 00:00 Permalink

Absolutely the right way to go, the only one that will work. I cancelled my GMail(have you read what they do with your information content) years ago, I use DuckDuckGo works fine and if Goolag buy them I will switch to another.Dont use Facebook either.They are all way too big for their boots, if they did not exist tomorrow would hardly make any difference, same for Apple, Smart phones that do everything needed can be bought at a tenth of the price. Never bought an Apple product yet,massively over rated and self promoted.Dizzy females think a phone is a fashion Icon, it's just a lump of plastic.

In reply to by Honey-Badger (not verified)

webmatex Honey-Badger (not verified) Thu, 08/31/2017 - 05:05 Permalink

Agree HB,repost from above glad we agreee:I'm using Yandex for search and Email and stopped using Google, if enough people do it it is Google RIP,Please reject their service people, it works!I forgot about chronic Chrome i'm on Brave since February.Make the switch ya big dummies it takes a minute and they at least claim to respect your privacy too.AND Yandex is equal to google - stuff DDGO its pathetic.

In reply to by Honey-Badger (not verified)

chunga Dame Ednas Possum Wed, 08/30/2017 - 18:32 Permalink

I know Eric Braverman supposedly works for alphabet but has anybody seen him in the flesh?Google Fires Podesta Lobbying Group Shortly After Hiring Eric Braverman; Coincidence?http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-30/google-fires-podesta-lobbying-… 

Now, new WikiLeaks emails reveal additional details behind the the man, Eric Braverman, who was brought in as CEO by Chelsea to change the controversial practices of the Foundation but abruptly resigned a short time later after being pushed out by long-time Clinton loyalists who had apparently grown very comfortable with the status quo.

In reply to by Dame Ednas Possum

Mr. Universe chunga Wed, 08/30/2017 - 19:30 Permalink

Nope not a peep out of him. Strange isn';t it to be hired into a high profile position like that and then disapp...well no one had seen him for some time since before he took his new job. Google just covered for the Clintons and made it a non reportable story, if you like your funding and children that is.

In reply to by chunga