Google Is a Monster, But We’re Dr. Frankenstein

 

shutterstock_14906359In 2013, the United States Department of Justice started a program called Operation Choke Point. Unable to ban industries they deem undesirable, they decided to make it hard or impossible for those industries to work with banks and credit card payment processors. Every single one of the now-undesirable industries, like adult entertainment, is legal.

Operation Choke Point categorized certain industries as “high-risk,” which had the effect of making fearful banks shut down accounts. The program is a way for the Administration to stifle or severely damage industries it simply doesn’t like. Unsurprisingly, the Administration’s biggest targets was the firearms industry. Operation Choke Point led to many banks shutting down the accounts of gun stores:

Another industry deemed undesirable is payday lending. To be fair, many feel it’s an unsavory business, that too often takes advantage of people. However, it is a legal industry, as evidenced by the “EZ-Credit” or “Instant Cash” storefront you’ll probably pass on your way to work today.

In February, Kelsey Harkness from The Daily Signal wrote “Is Operation Choke Point Still Happening? A Business Owner’s Story.” It starts with this account:

Running his business, Gregory Bone says he did “everything we could” to avoid a conflict. His industry—payday lending—is overseen by state and federal officials.

But despite his clean record, Bone said U.S. Bank informed him on Jan. 22 that his checking account was being abruptly shut down. The only explanation for it, Bone said, was Operation Choke Point.

“There’s just no other reason for it,” Bone, who lives in Bentonville, Ark., told The Daily Signal.

Later in the article, she writes:

Eighteen months ago, The Daily Signal was regularly contacted by business owners who believed they were being impacted by the program. Since Congress ramped up its investigations into Operation Choke Point, those stories have slowed down.

But according to members of Congress and industry experts, they haven’t stopped.

“It hasn’t gone away,” Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., told The Daily Signal in an interview earlier this month. “[But] it has been reduced.”

We wish Rep. Leutkemeyer — and everyone else in Congress who is fighting Operation Choke Point — the best of luck in stopping this pernicious program, which allows the Obama Administration to attack industries it would ban if given the chance.

As they say, you can fight city hall… but can you fight Google?

The list of items you can’t advertise on Google mirrors much of the list of Operation Choke Point’s undesirable industries: guns, ammunition, tobacco, etc. Yesterday, Google added payday lending to its list:

Bowing to growing pressure from consumer groups, Google will no longer accept ads for payday loans, a move that critics hope will create a new industry standard.

“Research has shown that these loans can result in unaffordable payment and high default rates for users so we will be updating our policies globally to reflect that,” Google’s product policy director, David Graff, wrote in a blog post.

Google defines payday loans as loans due within 60 days of being issued and in the U.S., loans with an annual interest rate of 36% or higher.

The payday lending industry is understandably upset:

A trade group for payday lenders called Google’s new policy “discriminatory and a form of censorship.”

“The Internet is meant to express the free flow of ideas and enhance commerce. Google is making a blanket assessment about the payday lending industry rather than discerning the good actors from the bad actors,” Amy Cantu, spokeswoman for the Community Financial Services Association of America, said in an emailed statement. “This is unfair towards those that are legal, licensed lenders and uphold best business practices.”

Cantu said the statement also applies to Facebook “and others with these policies.”

That last part about Facebook is important in light of the recent news that Facebook has been censoring conservative news sites from its trending topics and curated content. Another social media giant, Twitter, has been accused of “shadow banning” conservatives. Let’s say you’re a conservative that wants to read the latest gun news. Increasingly, the Big Three — Google, Facebook, and Twitter — are not fertile grounds for that information. But if you’re a feminist professor who needs background info for a lecture on “Manspreading,” you’ll probably be overwhelmed with search results.

Google AdWords has a complete listing of what it prohibits, broken down into four categories:

  • Counterfeit goods
  • Dangerous products or services
  • Products or services that enable dishonest behavior
  • Offensive or inappropriate content

That last one should set off alarm bells in your head. We know that the tech industry is overwhelmingly liberal, and has proven hostile to conservatives and conservative thought and writing. Something as vague as “Offensive or inappropriate content” can and will be used to censor conservatives, and other people and ideas that Google just doesn’t like.

But, honestly, what are you going to do about it? What can you do about it? Boycott Google?

Google started as a simple search engine and is now a verb. Yes, a verb. Either you or someone in a nearby cubicle will use Google as a verb today. When you get to work, you’ll check your Gmail. The G stands for Google. You’ll probably use Google Maps to find the location of an afternoon meeting. You might live in a city where Google Fiber provides your TV and Internet service. Later today, you might watch a video on YouTube, which Google owns. The web browser you’re using is likely Chrome, which is also a Google product. If you’re reading this article on an Android phone… well, there’s that, too.

Google is a monster that all of us created, and continue to build upon every single day. If Google next refuses to accept ads for your industry, or decides that your thoughts are offensive, what recourse do you have? Honestly, none.

Google it.

There are 18 comments.

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  1. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Cameron Gray:Eighteen months ago, The Daily Signal was regularly contacted by business owners who believed they were being impacted by the program. Since Congress ramped up its investigations into Operation Choke Point, those stories have slowed down.

    But according to members of Congress and industry experts, they haven’t stopped.

    “It hasn’t gone away,” Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., told The Daily Signal in an interview earlier this month. “[But] it has been reduced.”

    Cameron,

    So shedding a little light on the subject has an efficacious effect. This would seem an ideal issue for Senator Paul. Has he been involved? If not why not?

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
  2. Inwar Resolution Inactive
    Inwar Resolution
    @InwarResolution

    Great post.  I’m writing my rep John Carter right now.

    • #2
  3. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Yep. And not just Google. All the big boys in their respective sectors: eBay for bids, Amazon for general purchases. When all these guys started banning Confederate flags, I said it wouldn’t end there. Now, technically, they’re not monopolies, but they’re all such 800lb gorillas in their sphere that they may as well be. Conventional market choice theory says that when a place like eBay bans a legal item, that it simply creates a market for competitors to exploit. But that theory ignores human psychology and politics. When eBay banned the flags, smaller competitors like eCrater didn’t have the courage to take advantage of the opportunity. There was a lemming effect, and all the smaller guys followed suit. If you wanted a flag, you had to search out independent vendors on a point to point basis.

    Google has worked in a similar manner. You can be sure that Bing (actually, a nice-sized competitor that’s doing pretty well all things considered) will follow suit. Whatever Google bans, they’ll ban. Market choice theory fails in these situations.

    If you don’t like guns or porn or payday loans… or rebel flags… don’t worry. Pretty soon they’ll ban something you do like. It’s almost inevitable. And they’ll do it in a cowardly manner that doesn’t even involve actually making the item/service illegal.

    • #3
  4. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Bing is a perfectly good search engine, without intrusive and irritating animations on its homepage.  Not sure what ads they do and do not accept.

    • #4
  5. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    James Gawron:

    Cameron Gray:Eighteen months ago, The Daily Signal was regularly contacted by business owners who believed they were being impacted by the program. Since Congress ramped up its investigations into Operation Choke Point, those stories have slowed down.

    But according to members of Congress and industry experts, they haven’t stopped.

    “It hasn’t gone away,” Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., told The Daily Signal in an interview earlier this month. “[But] it has been reduced.”

    Cameron,

    So shedding a little light on the subject has an efficacious effect. This would seem an ideal issue for Senator Paul. Has he been involved? If not why not?

    Regards,

    Jim

    I doubt Paul will touch this on Google’s side. “Private company, their rules”.

    • #5
  6. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Shall we play a little with this idea?

    “Newspapers are a monster that all of us created, and continue to build upon every single day. If a newspaper next refuses to accept ads for your industry, or decides that your thoughts are offensive, what recourse do you have? Honestly, none.”

    “Radio is a monster that all of us created, and continue to build upon every single day. If a radio station next refuses to accept ads for your industry, or decides that your thoughts are offensive, what recourse do you have? Honestly, none.”

    “Television is a monster that all of us created, and continue to build upon every single day. If a tv network next refuses to accept ads for your industry, or decides that your thoughts are offensive, what recourse do you have? Honestly, none.”

    “Billboards are a monster that all of us created, and continue to build upon every single day. If a billboard company next refuses to accept ads for your industry, or decides that your thoughts are offensive, what recourse do you have? Honestly, none.”

    “Skywriting is a monster that all of us created, and continue to build upon every single day. If a skywriter next refuses to accept ads for your industry, or decides that your thoughts are offensive, what recourse do you have? Honestly, none.”

    “Town criers are a monster that all of us created…”

    • #6
  7. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Cameron Gray:In 2013, the United States Department of Justice started a program called Operation Choke Point. Unable to ban industries they deem undesirable, they decided to make it hard or impossible for those industries to work with banks and credit card payment processors. Every single one of the now-undesirable industries, like adult entertainment, is legal.

    Among the many things I’ve found to dislike about marijuana legalization is that — mostly due to the federal government — it’s extremely difficult for anyone in the business to get access to banking.

    As you say, this is stupid. If it’s a legal industry, let it operate normally.

    • #7
  8. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    The more restrictive they become, the more they will lose customers.

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    As Misthiocracy implies, perhaps the real questions are:

    • Why are so many movers and shakers of industry gung-ho hippies?
    • Why are leftists comfortable balancing profit goals with moral priorities but right-wingers are not?

    Once upon a time, conservatives believed that business owners should be free to reject potential customers for either good or bad reasons; to target their services however they wished, and be rewarded or punished by free market forces. Ironically, the Left does not believe that, but they practice what they will not preach.

    • #9
  10. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Google’s ban on “Offensive or inappropriate content” is hilarious. They continue to trawl the pornographic output of social media sites like Twitter and tumblr and index on their image searches. Some of it is as harmless as an old Playboy centerfold, but some of it pretty degrading to both participants and viewers alike.

    And they do it for the hits, which is what they use to monetize their product.

    • #10
  11. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    DuckDuckGo

    • #11
  12. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    This is just a symptom, not a cause.  The cause is the Social Justice Warriors who run large parts of our country, and are imposing a totalitarian socialist system by whatever means necessary.

    anonymous reviewed Vox Day’s book on the topic,  but what that book describes is the mopping-up operation, as they’ve long since taken over the establishments that matter, like government and education.

    Of course the SJWs are just to modern version of an ideology conservatives thought they’d defeated with WWII and the Cold War.

    We won the battles, and lost the war.

    • #12
  13. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Glen Reynolds wonders why none of those affected are suing for infringement of civil rights.

    • #13
  14. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    EJHill:Google’s ban on “Offensive or inappropriate content” is hilarious. They continue to trawl the pornographic output of social media sites like Twitter and tumblr and index on their image searches. Some of it is as harmless as an old Playboy centerfold, but some of it pretty degrading to both participants and viewers alike.

    And they do it for the hits, which is what they use to monetize their product.

    EJ,

    There have always been media critics and watch dogs. There was always debate about content. The delivery system for content on the net and especially social media sites is just very, very new and very, very different. We need to home in on their practices. Not just talking about click-bait but about click-monetization.

    Good comment.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #14
  15. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Tuck:This is just a symptom, not a cause. The cause is the Social Justice Warriors who run large parts of our country, and are imposing a totalitarian socialist system by whatever means necessary.

    And Google, Facebook, etc, are founded and run by West Coast SJW’s. Our entire culture is now filtered through their respective lenses. This is why advocating a Libertarian response is a failure. They’re not practicing Libertarianism. They don’t respect your choices. They want to bend you to their will. And since they own the technology (essentially), they know they can hold us hostage.

    See: Brendan Eich at Mozilla. A single donation they disapproved of, and they chased him out of the project he helped start (and the project that completely depends upon JavaScript, the technology that HE created).

    Did the other browser makers offer to hire him? Did they tell the public “your politics is your own, we just want you to use our browser”? Nope. They applauded Mozilla. Because they’re of the same mindset. They are of the Body. And you will be too, or you’ll be shut out of the gates.

    Advocating Libertarianism gets you nothing when your opponents are opposed to Libertarianism, and they hold all the cards. They’re not going to play ball with you.

    We won the battles, and lost the war.

    Yes. Yes we did.

    • #15
  16. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    I think they are public accommodations, with all the baggage that entails.

    • #16
  17. Brad2971 Member
    Brad2971
    @

    Instugator:I think they are public accommodations, with all the baggage that entails.

    They may be engaging in “public accommodation,” but the only way conservatives are going to get Google to change its stances on things like gun advertising is to get the FCC on board for regulating search engines.

    Good luck with that.

    • #17
  18. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    https://fee.org/articles/congress-not-facebook-is-the-real-threat-to-free-speech/

    • #18

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