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

What do you get if you combine a petty little man like Tab Atkins Jr. and a far-left wing company culture? The answer:  Manipulated search results to punish those they believe "deserve it".

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 search 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 2)
on Sep 10, 2017

Well, that was my other point, that I chose not to speak in my long post. Google is a private company that can do whatever they want, within the loose confines of the law to which it applies to the rich and powerful. It is up to the people to decide for themselves if they will tolerate this dynamic - either because it benefits them, or they don't care to change it. 

Assuming people do care about ethical behavior, the options for recourse are fairly limited. There is the law, which is often applied unequally, and there is individual actions that add up (collective action). I'm going to assume the only thing that we can do as ordinary people is collective action, and with collective action, we can try to put pressure on the individuals who enforce the laws. 

When no laws exist that prevent what we see as unethical behavior, the options are:

1.) Vote for people who will write those laws.

2.) Boycott

3.) Ostracize 

There you go. Find people who agree with you on a perceived injustice and convince them to act. That's really all people can do. I suggest starting with the big issues, the issues that undermine the process of righting wrongs - such as money in politics. Money in politics makes it so that the people who can afford to have their voice heard, get their voice heard. To anyone not in the 0.0001% of wealth, this should be a no-brainer. It fundamentally undermines the values of a Democracy, where instead of the intrinsic value you have as a person, the intrinsic value is how much you can put in the pockets of lawmakers. 

on Sep 10, 2017

About 'money in politics'

 

 

Oops.... Sorry, Jafo.

on Sep 11, 2017

What I get out of this is that there is something wrong with Google's culture and a company that powerful with that sick a culture needs to be dealt with by anti-trust laws.

Think about it. Can anyone imagine a Microsoft or Apple employee using their products or services to try to hurt people they don't like because of their politics? I have friends at Microsoft and they were always very paranoid about doing anything that could be interpreted as an abuse of their power because the DOJ was breathing down their necks.

Do I think this guy manipulated the Google search results? Yes but it doesn't matter because the worrisome aspect is that he feels safe to post such a hateful article in the first place while advertising he is a Google employee on the Chrome team.  Guys like him are a dime a dozen but reputable companies don't usually hire them and if they do, they don't tolerate them abusing their position.

on Sep 11, 2017

hellknight55

3.) Ostracize 

I recently changed my default search engine to DuckDuckGo this week, and 3 years ago I moved my email domain off gmail. 

The email domain wasn't because of what they're doing now, but rather because of Google Reader, and what that told me about the company's priorities. I decided I didn't want to keep all my eggs in the Google basket, and I wanted to have my email in a place where I'm the customer, and not the product. 

Of course, I still have 3 different email addresses on Gmail. One for work, and 2 personal addresses, but those are lesser used ones for when sites don't like my 4 custom domains.

on Sep 11, 2017

Kazriko


Quoting hellknight55,

3.) Ostracize 



I recently changed my default search engine to DuckDuckGo this week, and 3 years ago I moved my email domain off gmail. 

The email domain wasn't because of what they're doing now, but rather because of Google Reader, and what that told me about the company's priorities. I decided I didn't want to keep all my eggs in the Google basket, and I wanted to have my email in a place where I'm the customer, and not the product. 

Of course, I still have 3 different email addresses on Gmail. One for work, and 2 personal addresses, but those are lesser used ones for when sites don't like my 4 custom domains.

In our case, Google wanted to license some of our tech for a project they're working on.  We chose to license it to Microsoft instead.  It's not that I would refuse to do business with Google but rather Google has lost a lot of good will with me.  I just don't trust them anymore after the Damore thing when combined with the vile Tab Atkins behavior.

on Sep 13, 2017

Frogboy

I just don't trust them anymore

I never did!  Something about that company never sat right with me and I resisted using its products and services for years.  Unfortunately, with its talons into just about everything these days, Google is nigh impossible to avoid.

on Sep 13, 2017

It's much harder to take on Google as an antitrust case, because they were seed funded by the CIA.  Who investigates antitrust matters?  The Executive branch.  Who seed funded Google?  The Executive branch. 

OTOH, there is an Achilles heel:  the EU.  They are more about antitrust than the US.  Especially when it's US companies involved.  

on Sep 13, 2017

tetleytea

OTOH, there is an Achilles heel: the EU. They are more about antitrust than the US. Especially when it's US companies involved.

An Achilles heel yes, but only to a point.  Decisions on anti-trust, etc, will affect EU members only and aren't global, which is why major US tech companies aren't going to change anything domestically... or for countries with little to no bargaining power.  In other words, it's business as usual.

There was a time when the customer was always right.  Nowadays the customer is irrelevant.

on Nov 07, 2017

The Damon thing is what finally got me to sell off my Google stock.  Not out of a sign of protest but because I fundamentally don't have confidence that a company that is so insular in their politics is capable of doing real innovation.

If a Stardock employee did what Tab Atkins did, they'd get fired because we don't want a company culture that has such naked malice towards other people.

If I were as bad as he thought, I would have already obliterated him with the lawyers.  But unlike him and the general Google culture, it seems, I can tolerate other points of view.

on Nov 07, 2017

Exactly why Government needs to regulate Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Google should be forced to hand over its search engine to competitors via anti-trust law.

 

Facebook example

 

Use anti-trust laws to break them up. Give facebook's source code to several startup competitors and allow free profile movement between them and interlinked connectivity between the companies. Everyone would still be connected through the Facebook platform but would not be controlled or governed by any one company. AT&T was broken into smaller companies and their infrastructure allowed to be used by competitors, so the same concept can be used by precedent against social media. You may have sprint and I have AT&T but we still use the same phone line to call each other. Same concept for Facebook. I have company A, you have company B, but we still see each other's profiles, posts and can message each other.

on Nov 07, 2017

The Damon thing pi***s me off.   I'm not nearly as pessimistic about Google's financial future, but it's because I'm pessimistic about humanity in general.  I know of a mutual fund that follows the stocks in Congress' retirement plans, and mirrors that.  I have to admit, it makes sense.  Socially responsible?  Not so much.  But in terms of pure numbers going up, it seems a viable strategy to me.  It's the sort of thing I would do in a heartbeat if it were just a computer game, where only computer bits get hurt.

on Nov 08, 2017

I remember when during the GW Bush presidency if you searched for miserable failure it would direct you to the white house website.  Google claimed it wasn't manipulating the results.  Mysteriously, on January 20th 2009, Obama's inauguration day, the same search no longer pointed to the White House.  This is not an urban legened!

on Nov 08, 2017

Let's avoid politics...

on Nov 10, 2017

The problem of course is that those of us who don't like politics shoved down our throats are having it shoved down our throats when simply want to search for something.

 

on Nov 10, 2017

The short time I was in DC, the culture was interesting.  The media really is just a tool, and you really are just a number in all the lobby games they play.  It's like sure, there is free speech and free thought in America--just that you're being manipulated every step of the way.  The NSA and CIA are even developing these elaborate machine learning algorithms to anticipate exactly how you will behave in such-and-such a scenario.  They only need to be 90% right--it's just a numbers game.  And you are just a number.  It's no secret that Facebook and Google are very heavy into machine learning.  The sheep are this big ship, and they only tilt the little rudder this-or-that way a little bit.