The New Media Journal, formerly The Rant.us, has been removed from Google News and Google Search for what has been deemed “hate speech.” Many readers here might be familiar with this conservative e-zine, and, as a disclaimer, I have been a contributing writer there since September 2004.
(Update: I was just informed by the proprietor of MichNews.com, another conservative e-zine, that he was terminated by Google about a month ago for the same reason. And, the Jawa Report was so terminated on March 29, 2005. In all cases, the offending articles appear to have dealt with radical Islam and terrorism.)
This morning, proprietor Frank Salvato realized that none of today’s content had appeared at Google News or was available through Google Search. As such, he sent an e-mail message to the help desk, and received the following response (permission granted to post):
From: Google Help [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 11:56 AM
Subject: [#58423255] Google News
Thanks for writing. We received numerous reports about hate content on your site, and after reviewing these reports, decided to remove your site from Google News. We do not allow articles and sources expressly promoting hate speech viewpoints in Google News (although referencing hate speech for commentary and analysis is acceptable).
For example, a number of the complaints we looked at on your site were found to be hate content:
We hope this helps you understand our position.
The Google Team
It turns out that all three articles in question dealt with radical Islam extremists and/or terrorism. In the case of MichNews.com, the three articles that didn't meet Google's "smell test" were of similar content. And, my understanding is that the offending pieces at the Jawa Report also dealt with such radicals. I guess the Google folks are now afraid of being associated with writings about America’s number one enemy.
I invite the reader to look at the three articles in question, and decide whether such views expressed in op-ed form constitute “hate speech.” While doing so, ponder the ramifications of this: the largest search engine in the world can censor content. If it decides to become political, it, in theory, could censor writers and articles on the side of the aisle it opposes, and only feature pieces that are in lock-step with its dogma.
Very scary stuff indeed.
******Update. For those that are interested, here are the three offending pieces from MichNews.com:
*****Update 2: The original text of this article implied that The Jawa Report was banished by Google News on March 29, 2006. The real date was March 29, 2005. Please read follow-ups to this report, as well as news of additional website bannings here and here.