Tuesday 6 June 2017

Google are helping to rig the general election for the Tories

The Google motto is "don't be evil", but taking cash from a particular political party to help them undermine democracy with a vicious smear campaign is pretty damned evil isn't it?

The Labour manifesto

The Labour Party has produced a fantastic manifesto full of policies to help ordinary British people, and rescue the economy from the damage inflicted by seven punishing years of socially and economically ruinous hard-right Tory austerity dogma, but anyone who attempts to find it with a Google search is confronted by an outrageous Tory attack advert as the first link.

As you can see the first hit is a Tory party attack advert full of lies, the next hits are mixed mainstream press coverage of the manifesto, and the actual link to the manifesto is off the bottom of the screen (I had to zoom right out to to take the screenshot).

Tory smears

The Tories are able to flood the Internet with these attack adverts because they're being bankrolled by huge donations from the mega-rich who don't want Corbyn to win the election and make them start paying their fair share.

Several of the major donors who are bankrolling the Tory election campaign are proven tax-dodgers and people running their businesses out of tax havens.

The attack ad itself is an absolute abomination full of misrepresentations, out-of-context quotations, smears, and outright lies.

One of the most brazen misrepresentations is where they claim that Corbyn wants to raise income tax to 25% simply because he once observed that the income tax rate used to be 25% in previous generations (which is true).

In reality Labour have pledged to not raise income tax for the 95% of ordinary workers and it's the Tories who have scrapped their 2015 manifesto commitment to not raise income tax (don't you just wonder why they would scrap such a pledge?).

Another lie is that he won't reduce the deficit (the Institute for Fiscal Studies report on his spending plans says that he will reduce the deficit) and another lie is that he wants "unlimited immigration" (just read the Labour manifesto on immigration for yourself to see their actually very sensible immigration policies).

This kind of manipulative Tory lying and smearing is indicative of the entire 2017 Tory general election campaign. There's nothing positive about their own manifesto at all, just a constant barrage of misrepresentations, lies and smears about the Labour Party.
Google's role in this

By allowing the Tories to hijack Google searches for the Labour Manifesto with their astoundingly dishonest smear campaign, Google are ensuring that thousands upon thousands of people who were looking for Labour Party policies end up looking at savage Tory smears against the Labour Party instead.

We know that huge numbers of people will have fallen for the attack ad because there is mountains of research to show that huge numbers of people are incapable of differentiating between sponsored adverts and legitimate content. There's also research to show that once the link is far down enough that people have to scroll down to see it, it's very much more unlikely that it gets clicked than the top results.

The electoral rules are a total farce if they allow one party with a lot of cash to hijack Internet searches for other parties' manifestos with brutally dishonest attack adverts, but even if this thing is technically legal, Google has no actual obligation to take the Tory cash and help them subvert democracy.

If Google had any company ethics whatever, they'd specify that political Google searches during democratic elections are off limits for sponsored adverts, especially sponsored adverts from rival political parties.

One other thing to note is that under David Cameron's Tory government Google were given an extraordinary sweetheart tax deal by the HMRC that worked out at an effective tax rate of just 3%.

The manifesto that Google is helping the Tories to hijack and suppress with their attack ads actually contains a pledge to make the taxation system fairer. One of Labour's key taxation policies is to put an end to sweetheart tax deals between major corporations and HMRC.

I'm not saying that Google are deliberately interfering in our election in order to ensure defeat for a party that would make them pay their fair share of tax.

I can't say that because I don't have any evidence of conspiracy. I
n to prove that there has been collusion we'd need incriminating evidence like internal company emails or emails between Google and the Tory party.

It would be interesting to see what Google did about these attack ads, and whether executive decisions were taken to allow this kind of political hijacking in full knowledge that it was an obvious subversion of the British people's democratic right to seek accurate representations of Labour's own policies.

I can't allege a Google conspiracy to undermine our democracy in order to ensure a government that is favourable to their financial interests. But even without hard evidence of conspiracy it still looks very very bad for Google to be taking cash from the Tory party in return for allowing them to hijack the Labour manifesto with outrageous attack adverts.

If Google had any kind of corporate ethics at all, they simply wouldn't allow this kind of democracy-wrecking smear attacks on their search engine.

Streisand effect

If enough people share this article and inspire others to go and read the Labour Party manifesto for themselves, we could create what is called the Streisand effect.

The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicising the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

It is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware something is being kept from them, their motivation to access and spread the information is significantly increased. 

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