On July 3rd, in anticipation of conservative buzz over D'Souza's America movie and July 4th weekend posts by conservative patriots with some extra time on their hands, Google employee activists are back to their old tricks. I came out of the theater looking to blog about the movie, and found I had an email about "suspicious activity" on my account. Well, if Google didn't want me to think my account was hacked, this was a poor choice of words. Turns out that I was the suspect, and my blog was guilty until proven innocent. (Note: This also occurred withing hours of me doing something I had never done before: commenting on an LA Times article and linking back to my blog!) And as such the Blogspot interface would not even let me download or back up the data from my 'jailed' blog. I was told that my blog had been removed. As I was trying to find information about blog restoration and the review process, I was sent an email telling me that my blog had been reviewed and was denied reinstatement. Which could easily have dissuaded a blogger from further pursuing the matter. From a company that prides itself on user interfaces, is that the point?
Back in 2008 it seems that the 98% liberal Google workforce decided to silence criticism of Barack Obama including (or especially) blogs of pro-Hillary Democrats.
It turns out that there is an interesting pattern where it concerns the blogs that Google's Blogspot team have summarily locked down on their service. They all belong to the Just Say No Deal coalition, a group of blogs that are standing against the Obama campaign. It seems the largest portion of these blogs are Hillary supporting blogs, too.
The blogger GeekLove (a pseudonym) writes about how the timing of her blog removal made her suspicious.
“I suspect that it was Obama supporters because I think the block was timed to affect blogs prior to the unity event so that we would not ‘rain on the unity parade,’ GeekLove said. “Also, Obama has ads out hiring people with no experience, except the ability to use computers. I presume these are the individuals responsible for silencing any opposition. His campaign has really harnessed the power of the internet and in the process learned to game the system in a way that I find frightening.”
In other words, select people (with a questionnaire) who will do anything to support the campaign, and have them simply do Google searches, find anti-Obama sites that get hits on Google, and flag them for review. Hard to believe? Do you not know how this Chicago politician became a state senator in Illinois to begin with???
Is all this bullying activism coming from outside Google? Or are there people on the inside giving low priority to the resolution of suspected Terms of Service violations? Well, realize that Obama now has the DOJ, the FBI, and the NSA now, not a team of campaign volunteers with PCs. He can communicate to any staff members of Google and Facebook through intermediaries (although he has met with Zuckerberg directly), and enjoin them with a national security letter to not speak of anything said, especially their covert "cooperation" with the government.
But even before Obama administration, the following was written by an alan james in 2008 (emphasis mine):
I recently started a new "conservative" blog on blogspot, and was "under review" for potential splogging within 48 hours. Here's the kicker - I hadn't even put any content on my blog yet. The only content on the blog were 2 gadgets (newsmax video feeds and fox news headlines) provided by blogspot.
Oddly enough, when I learned I had been placed under review, it wasn't hackers I suspected of foul play, but the political leanings Google/Blogspot themselves. Call me narrow minded, but Occam's Razor seems to work here. It's not hard to imagine the simplicity with which Blogspot could flag conservative blogs from the outset and place them under review.Last year a "birther" blog was shut down for TOS violation in concert with a purported malware attack, as with the aforementioned alan james (most of the targeting is under the guise of anti-splogging).
I do know that on Oct. 1, 2013 this blog was severely hacked to the point the template had to be replaced and on the very same day Google AdSense sent notification that it was disabling the ads running for violating TOS listing, targeting an individual or group, as their reason, even though sites like Americans Against The Tea Party [www.aattp.org] can run Google AdSense with no problem.And when Christian Browne was given the anti-splog treatment, he was not directed at all to the forum at all by Google staff, and (naturally) concluded that that there was no appeal process for reinstating his blog. This is all very similar to the tactics reportedly used by insurance companies. Except that it makes you wonder what Google has to gain by this abuse in a venture that is no more a charity than Facebook is.
On one hand I thank Google and on the other I shame them. It is sad that such a great resource would let political ideology take over.
Timothy Carney describes the staff-swapping relationship between Google and the Obama administration as being like what occurs for ideological think tanks (maybe they shouldn't have lost all those people to Google before the Obamacare website was built):
This may surprise you if you believed Obama’s campaign rhetoric about him fighting against big business and wealthy executives. But the Google-Obama alliance is long-lasting and intimate.Has the search engine been tweaked before? Is it possible that the Google search engine response to "WMDs" was a calculated ad as part of the Democrats' "Bush tricked us into voting for the War" strategy? A lot of criticism over private company owners' donations (e.g. Chic-Fil-A) but no response to obvious campaigning by a search engine? Google is also apparently joining Eric Holder in Obama's economic war against the 2nd Amendment through selectivity. It would seem Google doesn't have much use for libertarians at their company.
A couple of examples:
Remember Obama’s No. 2 tech staffer at the White House was Google’s former top lobbyist — who improperly worked with active Google lobbyists on pushing policy that Google supported.
Obama appointed non-registered Google lobbyist and max-Obama donor Vint Cerf to a science advisory board.
Schmidt reportedly once asked a deputy to make the search engine ignore Schmidt’s political giving (heavy to Dems and Obama).
These are stories leading up to the latest July 4th campaign. With all the aforementioned problems, is it any wonder that when "technical difficulties" caused an error in the Google search engine turning up results for D'Souza's new movie America, D'Souza was skeptical about it?
And that brings me to the issue of Don Mashak who was caught in the Google's persecution of sploggers" and was given the run-around by Google staff even more egregiously than Christian Browne was. The Google staff (volunteer staff?) made it sound to me that the problem is with other blogs (presumably at Blogspot/Blogger) that clone material to get hits. (My articles haven't reached the level to even justify monetization, let alone are there clone blogs that pop up if I test the 'searchability' of my articles.) What they told Don Mashak that weekend paints a different picture. It would seem that these agents ruthlessly "persecute" (yes, they use the words) authors that publish the contents of their posts in other venues.
A prominent Google rep/reviewer (who writes articles explaining/defending Blogspot policy) obviously knows that the articles being compared are written by the same person. The blogger embeds his name in the names of his blogs. Don Mashak explains several several times that he is the owner of the content. The reviewer is deliberately obtuse on this point as he never explains why an author can't reuse his own content. If you question this, look where he mentions "scraped (i.e. stolen) or syndicated" and follows with "My guess is that 90% - 100% of your content is all scraped." He could've said "You are not allowed to use your own content" and explain how the Google policy is interpreted that way (which would be very odd and not obvious to me why that would be the case, but ...), but he simply concludes this based on his contrived evidence that Don Mashak is lying about using content from articles written by ... himself!
The most telling part might be where the Google rep tries to put on the most I'm-being-reasonable tone (like the contemptuous tone of some managers use to talk to incensed customers like kindergartners):
If this sort of ranting is part of your blogs, that would explain why the blogs were deleted.Wow. Think about this. The sort of political complaining that Mashak is doing there might not score points with IT personnel, but how is it against Google policy? This rep feels that Mashak is abusive because he is "paranoid" about the fact that they are doing nothing with the information provided, not really answering his questions, and basically stonewalling him. It's theater in a blog forum. But Mashak's tiresome reactions wear down the TOS agent into an admission of guilt. I'm having a difficult time understanding what sorts of ranting are against the Terms of Service.
What also seems implicit is that Google has a text comparison application that is like the WinDiff utility, but deals with hypertext and probably searches hypertext at the site level. (And why wouldn't the Terms of Service reviewers have such a utility?) Enter the name of a blog, and a list of suspected "plagiarized" sources and all commonly used text is cited. That common text can then be used to run in the Google search engine and turn up results in many pages. Lo and behold, sentences "chosen at random" turn up half a dozen articles all by the same author.