Google has reached a level of monopolization that needs to be taken seriously as a threat to freedom, the free exchange of ideas and political diversity.
Follow along with the logic of your average “woke” Google employee. These employees have been openly arguing for a few years now that Google needs a diverse array of employees shaping Google’s algorithms, or Google will only present to consumers certain information that might exclude diverse views or information.
Concurrently, these same employees have argued that Google need not entertain conservative thoughts or ideas. It was not that long ago that Google employees revolted at the idea of Kay Cole James, a black female and president of the Heritage Foundation, sitting on a Google advisory board designed to ensure diversity in Google’s artificial intelligence practices.
Google’s employees want diversity, but not ideological diversity. They believe diversity is needed to shape access to information through Google, but they want to deny any ideological diversity in the process of shaping.
Google controls over 90% of search engine activity. With a “diverse” group of people who lack intellectual diversity, Google can restrict access to information that offends its hired gatekeepers. Google controls over 70% of the market share of advertising online. Over the years, Google has bought up major competitors and then leveraged its dominance to both grow its ad business and hurt its competitors.
According to The Wall Street Journal, in an experiment last year, Nexstar Media Group Inc. tried to get out of Google’s ad network and saw not only a revenue dive but also a dive across access to the company’s data because Google has so integrated its ad business, ad generation business and search business.
This past week, a reporter at NBC News attempted to have The Federalist removed from Google’s ad network. The Federalist is a conservative website that had the audacity to run a story critical of the media. The NBC News reporter actually flagged The Federalist due to a comment left by a random commenter. Google made The Federalist delete its comments section to keep revenue flowing.
In the past year, with my own website, The Resurgent, I have received notices from Google that posts at The Resurgent related to guns and other issues have all run afoul of Google’s policies. In fact, Google routinely uses its position to demonetize conservatives who might write about guns or other matters. They starve sites of cash, and there are no comparable competitors to go to.
On top of that, left-wing agitators have a sympathetic ear at Google, and Google is more likely to target sites on the right than the left. An NBC News reporter, who had previously been a left-wing activist for the U.K. Labour Party, found a sympathetic person at Google to demonetize a conservative news and opinion site because of a random commenter in a comments section. One wonders if Google will demonetize The New York Times because of Sen. Tom Cotton’s op-ed. Don’t hold your breath.
That Google can use its monopoly to force websites to delete content or else be penalized is a dangerous thing, particularly when Google is so willing to target conservatives.
Google’s search dominance is akin to Microsoft’s dominance with Internet Explorer that forced antitrust action against Microsoft. Likewise, Google’s control of over 70% of online advertising is depriving the marketplace of competition. Google is now using its Chrome browser to compel changes to the open internet, becoming a new Internet Explorer, where people must use Google’s browser to render sites properly and, with that, let Google track them.
The time has come for serious bipartisan investigations into breaking apart Google. If Google can use its position to censor others and harm them financially while ensuring a departure from Google causes even further harm, Google is too big.
It is easy to say sites can go elsewhere and do not have to use Google. But there is nowhere on the internet one can go to truly escape Google without significant sacrifice in accessibility or revenue. It is time to break it up and prohibit it from controlling the content of other sites.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.