Break Up Google

Break Up Google

From Visual Capitalist, in April 2018:  “Over 90% of all [internet] searches are conducted via Google platforms”.

From Wikipedia, describing the US government acting under anti-trust law to break up Standard Oil in 1906:  Standard Oil’s market share of refined petroleum stood at around 70%.

Those simple facts only hint at the monopoly power of Google in 2018, and the compelling case for the federal government to act promptly to execute the digital age equivalent of breaking up this company.

The founders and other early visionaries behind Google deserve credit for the de facto organizing and relative taming of the unimaginably vast stores of information that became available to the wired world with the development of the worldwide web.

They deserve credit, too, for their foundational motto “Don’t be evil.”  They understood from the outset the potential power for good and evil inherent in what they were doing.  Searches come from billions of people—most though not all with comparatively innocent or decent motives—and search results necessarily reflect Google’s desire to be responsive to what the searcher wants to know.  But increasingly, they reflect Google’s desire to respond with what they believe the searcher ought to know.  And that’s the problem.

If one company controls 90% of information access, and is constantly refining algorithms to fit its definition of what people ought to know—that’s conferring an enormous level of thought control on one company.  No government, no company, and no group of people should ever have that power—and that’s true no matter what their guiding ideology might be.  Such a level of thought control is itself evil—i.e., freedom means nothing absent freedom of thought.

The list of Google’s proclivities toward directing searchers to what they ought to know grows continually.  Stories about helping Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and hampering President Trump’s refugee handling orders are the latest.  (Google acknowledged that its executives contemplated skewing search results regarding the refugee ban, which they opposed, but said no such skewing was ever implemented.  It is an unfortunate reality that there is no way, absent litigation discovery, to verify their assurances as to this or any other search subject).

But perhaps an even more disturbing angle to Google’s activities involves the work they are doing to advance online learning for school age children.  Michelle Malkin’s recent piece on this topic deserves attention.  Because again, while the idea of developing online education enhancements and alternatives seems noble and worthy, the seemingly irresistible urge to gather data because they can is apparently leading Google to develop and exploit what amounts to extraordinary invasions of the privacy of children and families.  Google will essentially monitor, analyze and potentially even score (?) children based on every search, every text, every email and every document they work on via the Google online learning platform.

There is not enough time to resolve the enormously dangerous implications of this much power through letters to Google’s community relations department.  The company needs to be broken up.  There must be multiple competing search options.  There must not be singular censorship control over search results.  If, after a breakup of Google, free markets ultimately create a menu of search engine options that correspond to various interest groups, so be it.  Information control is a totalitarian playground that needs to be shut down.

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