Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

With the increasing evidence that Google operates with an open political agenda, it is not surprising that its employees feel comfortable using their privileged position at Google to smite those guilty of wrong-think.

Take the case of Google employee Tab Atkins Jr.  After a Twitter spat with Zoe Quinn, Atkins decided that social justice needed to be served and wrote a libelous smear of me on his blog with the title "Brad Wardell is a douchebag"...three years ago.

As a semi-public figure I'm pretty used to someone, somewhere writing something unpleasant about me. What I was not prepared for, however, was someone who knew Google's search algorithms well enough to keep their little blog post up at the top of Google (but no other search engine's) search results for three years.

Compare the difference:

 

BING:

image 

No where to be found.

 

DuckDuckGo:

image

No where to be found.

 

GOOGLE:

image

Right at the top just behind my Twitter and Wikipedia pages.

 

Now mind you, I've been featured in a lot of newspapers, magazines and websites over the years from Time Magazine to the WSJ to USA Today and of course frequently in the technology news sector.  None of those articles come up.  LinkedIn.com doesn't even come up. Even the infamous false allegation of "sexual harassment" that certain gaming journalists latched onto (and later apologized for) can't beat it. 

Either the SEO managers at LinkedIn, FaceBook, Kotaku, USAToday.com, Time.com, etc. need to recruit this guy...or, more likely, this guy knows how to manipulate Google search results.  I don't know if Google gives preferential treatment to results from its employees or not. What is known is that the results are unique to Google and have managed to survive 3 years at the top despite his blog not being notable.

However, the issue I have isn't just about Tab bt rather, what it says about Google's culture. I don't think anyone I have ever worked with would feel comfortable doing this to someone.  I'm the publisher of Neowin and it's never occurred to me to use my power to try to ruin an individual.  What is the mindset of someone who writes something like that and then uses what appears to be insider SEO knowledge to ensure it nears the top?  What it says to me is that there's something gross about Google's culture and that they have a pretty high confidence that they can mete our social justice at those they feel deserve it.

Now, imagine if I weren't already a successful CEO that will never have to find a new job but instead was just "some guy".  What Tab did would be catastrophic. It sends a chilling message to those who participate in social media: Piss off an SJW at Google and they will use their privileged position to harm you.

Now, you might ask "Have I reached out to Tab?" and the answer is, yes:

image

That was two years ago.  In which he responded "he'd think about it". 

Perhaps Google has some other explanation as to how their employee's 3 year-old blog gets to the top only on Google and no other site.  I have my own opinions.

In the meantime, consider this: Imagine if an employee at Google had written such an article about say Zoe Quinn or some other SJW darlying?  What do you think would happen to them?

Up until the revelation that Google is willing to fire people just for having "wrong" opinions I was willing to think that Tab was just an isolated "bad apple".  But now, I feel very uncomfortable at that thought that anyone out there with the "wrong opinion" is only a few keystrokes away from being smeared or made invisible by Google employees in the online search results.

Your opinions are welcome.


Comments (Page 1)
on Sep 07, 2017

Give him this...

on Sep 07, 2017

Where exactly did he make this case? Where does he argue its OK to manipulate search results? Your post doesnt link him mentioning this at all.

Of course I wouldn't be surprised that they do manipulate search results, and the days of google living their "don't be evil" motto are long gone. 

 

 

 

on Sep 07, 2017

Now.....what was their motto again....

"Don't get caught doing evil" ...? ...

on Sep 07, 2017

adamb1011

Where exactly did he make this case? Where does he argue its OK to manipulate search results? Your post doesnt link him mentioning this at all.

Of course I wouldn't be surprised that they do manipulate search results, and the days of google living their "don't be evil" motto are long gone. 

  

The case is that he, as a Google employee, is able to get his own posts valued artificially highly on his employer's site but no one else's.

You can also use an SEO tool like Moz and see that his result doesn't make any sense.  It doesn't have a score anywhere near high enough to make it onto the front page.  

on Sep 07, 2017

Your post title is misleading. He (Tab) never made any case confirming or supporting this. He might have done what you said, but thats very different.

Again, I'm not doubting that he's fucking with the search results. 

Although whether hes doing it maliciously against you is up for debate. He may well have just applied an artificial SEO boost to his blog for personal promotion, and the article referencing you is simply collateral damage.

Does his blog rank artificially highly for any other terms? Are any of his other blogs ranking far more highly than they should be?

 

 

on Sep 07, 2017

Anyways, this is hardly a surprise. Google, like Facebook, use their enormous market dominance to squash any competition, and regularly advertise their own products ahead of the competition. When the company itself is clearly guilty of biasing search results in its own self-interest, its not surprising its employees' join in the fun.

The fish rots from the head.

on Sep 07, 2017

adamb1011

Your post title is misleading. He (Tab) never made any case confirming or supporting this. He might have done what you said, but thats very different.

Again, I'm not doubting that he's fucking with the search results. 

Although whether hes doing it maliciously against you is up for debate. He may well have just applied an artificial SEO boost to his blog for personal promotion, and the article referencing you is simply collateral damage.

Does his blog rank artificially highly for any other terms? Are any of his other blogs ranking far more highly than they should be?


Nope.   He's written about other people in the past, his blog doesn't even show up in their results.  

on Sep 08, 2017

I don't know, you don't piss off a cop.  You don't piss off a lawyer.  You don't piss off your barber while she's cutting your hair.   You don't piss off Google when they control the SEO and your gmail account.  Yeah, it's wrong, but in your own self-interest, it's good just not to piss people off.    And I'm preaching to myself here.   

The far-reaching ramifications of Google's omniscience is, of course, another known topic of discussion.   I think someone did a movie about it?   Had Tom Hanks and Emma Watson?

 

on Sep 08, 2017

Ya know, I have noticed frequently in the past that the "douchebag" article was always in the top of Google searches but ignored although was curious why it was ranked high and simply figured people kept linking to it.  As for why I would be googling "Brad Wardell" frequently, well don't judge me (ie fanboy, etc) but every once in awhile I do it to see if I missed any articles, interviews etc that I might have missed.

 

on Sep 08, 2017

tetleytea

I don't know, you don't piss off a cop.  You don't piss off a lawyer.  You don't piss off your barber while she's cutting your hair.   You don't piss off Google when they control the SEO and your gmail account.  Yeah, it's wrong, but in your own self-interest, it's good just not to piss people off.    And I'm preaching to myself here.   

The far-reaching ramifications of Google's omniscience is, of course, another known topic of discussion.   I think someone did a movie about it?   Had Tom Hanks and Emma Watson?

 

I had never even spoken to this person before.  I had no online debate with him. 

You are, in essence, suggesting that we simply cede all communication to the whims of random Google employees who might be observing.

on Sep 08, 2017

You are, in essence, suggesting that we simply cede all communication to the whims of random Google employees who might be observing.

Do I have a choice, though?   I can't stop Google from doing what they do.   I know Google was seed funded by the CIA.  Google isn't all bad, nor all good.  But they are big, and tealeaves are small.   If I thought there was a battle that I had any chance of winning, I would reconsider.   I realize that is a bit of a defeatist attitude, but I think realistic--this time.

 

on Sep 08, 2017

I work for a company that has an employee code of ethics, that every employee has to verify yearly that they have read and understood.  If Atkins really has manipulated Google search to promote his own blog, in my company that would be a violation of the terms of employment and would be grounds for immediate dismissal.

on Sep 09, 2017

Publius of NV

I work for a company that has an employee code of ethics, that every employee has to verify yearly that they have read and understood.  If Atkins really has manipulated Google search to promote his own blog, in my company that would be a violation of the terms of employment and would be grounds for immediate dismissal.

There is no way to know for sure.  I do think the evidence speaks for itself. It could be he’s using a bot net to simulate clicks for instance. 

In in terms of a code of ethics, if we had an employee that was making public announcements about private citizens (as opposed to say a politician) we’d take a pretty dim view of that.  

To me, Tab’s behavior says a lot about the internal culture of Google and that they will pretty brazenly use their insider knowledge to mete out Social Justice to those they think have committed some ideological wrong think. 

In my case, it’s just annoying (I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t irritate me). But imagine what they could do to someone with fewer means?

on Sep 09, 2017

My biggest fear is that the Internet, which was meant to liberate ideas and groups, has inadvertently created the tools to discretely control information and empower tribalism the likes of which we have never seen before. Between the influence of advertisers and governments, we have seen a great deal of erosion of free speech already. However, it is things like this where a single website or service can hold unprecedented power over what the world knows and thinks about an individual or a group that is starting to become ever more apparent.

The only way that we are going to avoid falling victim to this kind of manipulation is by diversifying the internet again. Crowdsourcing, blockchains and decreasing hosting costs are key in enabling this but ultimately this is a struggle without end. Every generation has had to fight against authority of some type or other. This is just another generation of that struggle.

I keep telling people that the real battle is always between an authoritarian and a libertarian mindset.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

on Sep 09, 2017

There's a lot of assumptions here. Have you ever considered that he simply knows how to get his blog listed highly because he knows the ins and outs of Google's SEO?

There is also other factors like:

  • Do you actually click his site when you search? This could create a bias if you only do this when using google search.
  • People love scandals - so when they search your name and see something unexpected, they click it. It's like how youtubers use clickbaity titles, crazy pictures to get views. 
  • He could've verified his business with Google. 
  • Writers / bloggers linking to his blog often will make it more likely to show up for everything, not just your post. 
  • He could pay people per click - click farms with people going through each of his blog posts (or the ones he tells them to) and clicking them, or creating links to them on some other website(s).
  • Gamers use Google more, so if they are searching and see something related to never buying anything from you again, they might click on it. 
  • Trolls - kinda like the pay per click item above, but more malicious. They help artificially inflate bad things about the people they don't like (if they're tech savvy, they can even automate it and use things like botnets). 

So, my point is that you are being awfully tin foil hatty here. There's far too many plausible explanations for why his blog shows up on Google earlier than it does on other sites. It looks like you're using Chrome in those screen shots, which is another Google affiliate, and he probably knows how to get high SEO on that too. I did a search for you using Firefox and Chrome, and the results were different. 

Also, while it wasn't on the first page, I did find his blog post fairly high up on the search results for other search engines when searching your name. Like I said, it's hard to go straight to a conspiracy when the difference 10-20 results, and only exists when it comes to things he would know a lot about (optimizing for Google searching and Chrome). Anyways, I think you will come to realize that you cannot convince people of things they do not want to believe. You can only change the minds of people who are open minded. That's why we still have flat Earthers (among countless other nonsense beliefs).

Meta
Views
» 15810
Comments
» 27
Sponsored Links