Sunday, 10 November 2019

How Google are helping the Tories rig the general Election. Again!


Google's corporate code of conduct famously includes the phrase "don't be evil", but if deliberately colluding, for cash, with one political party to rig elections in their favour isn't "evil" then it's hard to know what is.

In 2017 Google accepted wads of cash from the Tories in order to help them hijack political searches so that anyone in the UK searching "Labour manifesto" would end up seeing an outrageous Tory attack site full of outright lies as their first search result.

In any sensible country this kind of cynical manipulation would have been legislated against so that political parties can't hijack political searches with attack ads, but given that the party of government were beneficiaries of these cynical, democracy hijack tactics, and most of the rest of the Westminster establishment class are a bunch of bloody incompetents, and the Electoral Commission are an absolute joke of an organisation, nothing whatever was done.

So Google and the Tories are at it again, this time hijacking search terms like "register to vote" and "postal vote" to serve up Tory attack ads as the first result, instead of neutral links with information on how to actually register to vote, or obtain a postal vote.
 
4 examples of this Tory-Google attack ad strategy
(click to enlarge)

The link description in these attack ads includes hyper-partisan Tory slogans like "back Boris", "get Brexit done" or "don't risk Corbyn", and the link itself takes you to a data harvesting page where the Tory party collect your personal information under the guise of needing it to register you to vote!
Research has shown over and again that huge numbers of people are incapable of differentiating between genuine search results and sponsored adverts, so it's not like pumping hyper-partisan political propaganda has no effect. If it had no effect, the Tories wouldn't be blasting huge wads of cash on doing it would they?

Just imagine if you enquired with your local council about how to register to vote or obtain a postal vote, and instead of offering you neutral advice, they sent you a load of hyper-partisan party political propaganda for one particular party.

There would be absolute outrage about it, especially if it turned out that this particular political party was actually paying the local council staff to supply their propaganda, instead of impartial advice.
 
If you click the link, it takes you to this
Tory data collection page.

But since it's Google behaving in this outrageous manner, it's apparently perfectly fine and acceptable!

Just consider all the scandal surrounding Russian efforts to hijack our democracy, and consider that by rigging their search results Google is doing a much more effective job of undermining our democracy, and they're doing it for cash, out in the open, because nobody seems to care.

And even if there aren't specific rules against this insidious collusion between Google and the Tories, it would easily be within Google's power to reserve democratically sensitive search terms to prevent this kind of sponsored hijacking (in the way that Twitter have banned political adverts), but they don't lift a finger to protect democracy, because helping the Tories hijack democracy is a nice little earner for them.

Of course Google aren't the only ones actively helping electoral cheats and liars to destroy democracy, what with Facebook making a special exemption for political parties to allow them to tell outright lies in their paid adverts.

For the best part of a decade the Tory party have allowed tech giants Google and Facebook to pay virtually no tax on the vast profits they make in the UK, and now Google are once again actively colluding with the Tory party attack and undermine democracy.

Something needs to be done because if left unchecked, democracy is going to be undermined to the point of destruction by the tech giants, not particularly because they aim to bring about the end of democratic era, but because helping electoral cheats and liars to wreck democracy is a nice little earner for them in the short-term!

That's the banality of evil right there.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




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15 comments:

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