YouTube is the second-most-popular search engine in the world. It comes in right behind Google — which, interestingly enough, owns YouTube. This writer has searched YouTube for videos showing things such as “how to change the battery in a key fob for a 2007 Volkswagen Jetta” after spending nearly an hour trying to figure out how to open the darned thing. The one-minute-thirty-seconds-long video had my problem sorted before the video was finished. And while that was great, what if the topic I was searching for was something a tad more controversial than car keys?
For most people who have had the pleasure of coming of age in a world where the answer to almost any question is literally at their fingertips, trusting Internet searches is simply natural. After all, I can know what other movies I’ve seen that actor in, the distance from my front yard to the Grand Canyon, and how many eggs the average chicken lays in a year. And all of those results are accurate and true. I search, I find, I am informed. So, searching for information on a political candidate, important issues such as abortion, or even how the Federal Reserve works should be the same, right? Wrong. Very wrong.
Trusting a particular search requires trust in the system being used to conduct that search, and Google’s trustworthiness is lousy. As this writer has reported, Google is known to “tweak” its search algorithm to skew search results when the actual results — based on relevance and popularity of clicks — are not to the liking of the Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” that Google has become. As the above-linked article shows, a video by Project Veritas includes an on-the-record interview with a senior Google engineer and reveals that Google deliberately manipulates users’ search results to fit Google’s political leanings.
Now, a new report by Breitbart News confirms that the Google/YouTube search-manipulation issue is broader and deeper than merely hiding negative search results in regard to liberal candidates. According to an earlier Breitbart report, a YouTube insider-turned-whistleblower has revealed the existence of “a ‘blacklist’ file for ‘controversial YouTube queries,’ which contains a list of search terms that the company considers sensitive.”
Also from that previous report: “The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News by a source inside the company who wishes to remain anonymous. A partial list of blacklisted terms was also leaked to Breitbart by another Google source.”
That “blacklist” included “abortion, abortions, the Irish abortion referendum, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and anti-gun activist David Hogg,” according to Breitbart. The inclusion of those terms led to an “intervention that pushed pro-life videos out of the top ten search results for ‘abortion.’” This is, of course, in direct opposition to Congressional testimony given by Google CEO Sundar Pichai that the company does not “manually intervene” in search results, since the maintenance of the “blacklist” is manually handled by employees.
Now, it is known that — acting as a minion for the establishment — YouTube has added “Federal Reserve” to that list. The reason? MSNBC host Chris Hayes complained on Twitter about not liking the videos he saw when he searched YouTube for that term. In October 2018, Hayes tweeted, “My favorite example of how informationally toxic YouTube’s algorithm is this” said Hayes. “Imagine you’re a high school freshman and got a school assignment about the Federal Reserve,” and included a link to a video with 1.6 million views. The title of the video, “Century of Enslavement: The History of the Federal Reserve,” should give an idea of the content. The fact that the video had 1.6 million views speaks to its popularity. Popularity is supposed to be part of the recipe of which videos show in search results.
But, since Hayes complained about it, it was brought to the attention of Google/YouTube, and “Federal Reserve” was added to the “blacklist.” Now, a search for that term returns “approved” videos favorable to the Fed.
Interestingly — and a bit closer to home for this magazine — is that in the midst of his whiny tweetfest, Hayes wrote, “It is, perhaps not surprisingly, conspiratorial quackery. Once you view that, the algorithm also then suggests this on the sidebar: “What You're Not Supposed to Know About America’s Founding” (863,00 views).” That video — with nearly a million views at that time — is a presentation by Arthur Thompson, the CEO of this magazine’s parent organization, the John Birch Society.
After Hayes’ rant, Google/YouTube “fixed” the system so that relevance and popularity of clicks is out and videos which are “approved” and “politically correct” are in.
Can someone tell this writer again why anyone would trust Google/YouTube as a reliable source for searching for information? It is plain to see that by controlling the information to which people have ready access — or at least controlling the information to which people are exposed — Google/YouTube has the ability to control the way people form ideas and opinions. They are plainly using that power to influence elections and personal ideology.
This writer decided to make a principled decision more than a year ago to stop using any Google products or services. There are good alternatives for search, videos, maps, and everything else that Google offers. If enough people would rid themselves of Google, the company would have to make some difficult decisions about staying in the market. And even if no one else makes that decision, this writer is happily Google-free and glad not to have his thinking influenced by the “Ministry of Truth.”