DuckDuckGo CEO Weinberg to Down-Rank Some Websites Associated with Alleged Russian Disinformation
In a March 9 Tweet CEO Gabriel Weinberg reveals DuckDuckGo censorship and plans to down-rank alleged Russian disinformation sites.
In a Mar 9 2022 Tweet, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Winberg revealed the platforms new campaign to “down-rank sites associated with Russian disinformation”, which sounds like a good idea and the morally correct choice…but once you cross the censorship line, where does it stop? and who decides what is and isn’t disinformation? The COVID-19 pandemic revealed to the masses the ugly face of mass censorship…and the catastrophic consequences of letting a few authority figures decide what information we have the right to access.
I think we can all agree that war is reprehensible and tragic. If war can be avoided in most cases it should, in order to prevent the needless loss of life…but I for one see the danger of letting an authority or search engine, dictate what information we have access to…I want to see both sides of the story, so that I have an informed opinion on the matter…not one dictated by a search engine or social media network.
DuckDuckGo Censorship | Down-Ranking “Disinformation” Sites
When a website is down-ranked in search results, that site will show up lower down in search results. For example if one has a blog post about chocolates that shows up on the first page of DuckDuckGo in a query for “chocolates” and that website is “down-ranked”, then that post will no longer show up on page 1 of DuckDuckGo search results for “chocolates”. Instead it will show up on page 3 or 4, or even further down the list where most people don’t bother to look…
The reality is that most people, around 71%, don’t scroll past the second page of results, which sometimes has been “reported to be as high as 92% in recent years” and around 25% of people click the first search result…In other words you have buried the website in a mountain of websites, so that no one will find it or view it’s content…you might not be “deleting it”, but it amounts to the same thing.
The Purpose of Search Engines
A search engine is a piece of software designed to connect users with data…It isn’t like a library that stores information. It is more like a telephone service provider, that puts one person in contact with another. How would you feel if someone told you what local businesses you could call? and buried some so far down you could never find their phone number? Because that’s precisely what DuckDuckGo is doing by censoring what it claims is “russian disinformation”.
In fact in some of the legal battles involving torrent sites, their argument for not being responsible for “illegal content” was based on the premise that they don’t store any of the information nor are they responsible for it…they simply provide a searchable list of sites with which they have no association.
An Official Response from DuckDuckGo | DuckDuckGo Censorship
When Engadget reported on DuckDuckGo down-ranking Russian disinformation sites, DuckDuckGo provided an official statement in response:
“The primary utility of a search engine is to provide access to accurate information. Disinformation sites that deliberately put out false information to intentionally mislead people directly cut against that utility. Current examples are Russian state-sponsored media sites like RT and Sputnik. It’s also important to note that down-ranking is different from censorship. We are simply using the fact that that these sites are engaging in active disinformation campaigns as a ranking signal that the content they produce is of lower quality, just like there are signals for spammy sites and other lower-quality content. In addition to this approach, for newsworthy topics we’re also continuing to highlight reputable news coverage and reliable ‘instant answers’ at the top of our search results where they are seen and clicked the most. We’re also in the process of thinking about other types of interventions.”DuckDuckGo Official Response to Engadget
So DuckDuckGo argues that censoring what it claims is “Russian disinformation”, is the same as down-ranking “spammy sites and other lower-quality content”. But it seems they decided this mostly on the fact that said websites are state sponsored media. Which doesn’t say much considering virtually all of our mainstream media is largely government funded (in both Canada and the US). In fact Trudeau recently announced a $600 Million bailout for Mainstream Media wherein he uses tax payer dollars and gets to decide which news sources get what amount of funding…
Highlighting “reputable” news coverage and ‘instant answers’ | DuckDuckGo Censorship
DuckDuckGo also mentioned in their official response that they are re-designing the search engine Graphical User Interface (GUI) to highlight what it determines is “reputable news”:
“…we’re also continuing to highlight reputable news coverage and reliable ‘instant answers’ at the top of our search results where they are seen and clicked the most”Excerpt from DuckDuckGo Official Response to Engadget
In other words they are telling you don’ what is “reputable news”, you don’t get to decide that for yourself…and just to make sure you buy into their bias narrative, they are adding special graphical elements to put it in your face every single time you use their search engine…where have we seen this before? ahh yes I know! We’ve seen something similar on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and numerous social media platforms in regards to COVID-19.
Yea thanks but I don’t need you to shove ads in my face telling me what I should consider is relevant information and what isn’t…
Who decides what is Classified as Disinformation? | DuckDuckGo Censorship
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we seen “fact checkers” popping up en masse, churning out multiple fact checks on nearly every article to be published on the internet. But just who was funding all this “fact checking” and what were the qualifications of individuals preforming the fact checking?
Well it turns out “fact checkers” frequently have conflicts of interest, such as factcheck.org receiving funding from a company with nearly $2 Billion in Johnston & Johnson Stock or a Facebook Fact Checker who Worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, while fact checking articles on the origins of COVID-19.
Quite often fact check articles are written by journalists, with little to no medical experience, preforming fact checks on articles written by doctors who are highly published experts in their perspective fields; way beyond the journalists pay grade…I’ve argued with people who consider these fact checks the holy bible of truth, when they are anything but.
By allowing companies like DuckDuckGo to “down-rank” aka censor information, you are permitting potentially unqualified individuals decide what information you have the right to access, and the consequences of that can be disastrous.
Access to Information is a Human Right | DuckDuckGo Censorship
There are numerous official sources of information accessible to the public…they are capable of selecting their news sources and weighing the information from them, according to their credibility. Mainstream Media (MSM) is far more dangerous, because they work in concert (together), unilaterally publishing the same story, which is designed to push a particular narrative down the throats of the general public; often bias due to the influence of it’s government and third party funding.
Canada Bill of Rights
It’s outlined in the bill of rights under (d) freedom of speech and (f) freedom of the press:
It’s also written in the U.S. Constitution front and center in the First amendment:
Our Forefathers Knew | Conclusion
Our forefathers founded these great nations with a document designed to protect fundamental human rights from corruption, evil and greed. Front and center in both the Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution we have provisions for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which are both vital to a healthy functional democracy and our forefathers clearly knew that.
But the bill of rights wasn’t written with the internet in mind and therefore provisions were not made for how information is accessed on the internet…to ensure the gate keepers of information in the 20th century, such as search engines and social media companies, are subject to enforce those fundamental legally protected human rights.
The result is manipulation of access to information by said arbiters, which is nothing more than cleverly disguised censorship, with a 20th century twist. Unfortunately these search engines are companies, and by using their website you are agreeing to their Terms Of Service (TOS), even if said terms, or the actions of that company, violate free speech or freedom of the press.
Our only power as individuals is to stay updated on the companies which we interact with on a daily basis, and to stop using those companies when their values infringe on the rights and freedoms our country was built on…or when they no longer align with your own values. Personally I will begin to migrate over to another ‘privacy focused’ search engine, not because I agree with the Ukraine war, quite the opposite, I abhor it…but because doing so is my only method of protest, against the slow decline of free speech on the internet. So thanks DuckDuckGo…it was nice while it lasted.