‘Modern censorship: Google decides RT is propaganda, yet millions disagree’
Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, has vowed to de-rank RT and the news agency Sputnik to make it harder for the outlets to reach a wider audience.
His comments came at a Q & A session at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada on Saturday when asked about RT's use of Google's AdSense service.
“We are working on detecting and de-ranking those kinds of sites – it’s basically RT and Sputnik,” Schmidt said.
RT: Google says it's not looking to ban RT. Yet doesn't de-ranking RT stories essentially have the same effect? Isn’t it a modern form of censorship?
Neil Wallis: Yes, and you are talking to someone who believes exactly that. I do think it is censorship. You don’t have to like the stories that RT covers, you don’t have to want to read the material coming from Sputnik. I really do not believe it is in any way acceptable that a bunch of politically correct democratic parties supporting people sitting in Silicon Valley should decide what I should or should not read. I think it is the height of arrogance. This is the same organization, Google, that quite happily sits on its hands because it is convenient with pedophile [Note: According to an investigative report in The Times of London, quoting experts, “Google has made millions of pounds in advertising revenue from videos that exploit young children and appeal to pedophiles..”] videos, with ISIS videos, you have all sorts of problems getting taken down because they see that this fits with the classic 'PC attitude', they think this is ok. I think it is very sinister indeed.
RT: RT's editor-in-chief says the tech giant testified in Congress that they found no manipulation of their platform or policy violations by RT. So then how justified is this intervention?
NW: It seems to me to be political. It seems to me to be wanting to be winning brownie points with what they see as all the right-thinking people around. But the problem with this is – and I’m not here to be a cheerleader for RT: In Britain, at the moment there is a campaign that has been launched by a hard-left group against one of Britain’s biggest and best national newspapers, and they are attacking companies who advertise in that newspaper. Where does this start and where does this stop? Who decides that Google today will attack RT, but tomorrow the same sort of pressure make them decide to attack the Daily Mail here in Britain, another political viewpoint they might not like. This is suppression, this is censorship. I think that I am quite capable of watching RT, of reading Sputnik and deciding what I do and do not want to take from it, what I do or do not believe. It is extremely sinister, as I say.
RT: Why do we see tech giants taking action against RT? Is it the result of pressure from the US government? Google is a private company, isn't it supposed to be independent of Washington?
NW: I completely agree. I think they are playing to the political audience here. You have Eric Schmidt standing up and making these grand statements. He is deciding that RT is a propaganda machine. Well, there are millions of people who watch it who wouldn’t agree with that. But nobody is asking him from that chosen audience, what are you doing about ISIS videos? What are you doing about Islamist extremism video? What are you doing about pedophile videos? What are you doing about all of that stuff that is on YouTube? And the answer is diddly-squat. Nothing. The Times of London ran a story this week pointing out that Google has made millions out of those sorts of sites. So, what is Eric Schmidt talking about? Talking about tackling that issue? No. He is playing to the American government and American establishment audience by targeting RT. I think it is absolutely wrong.