In an unprecedented attack on free speech, Google has removed leading left-wing websites and journalists from its popular news aggregation platform, Google News.
The changes to Google News mark a new stage in a systematic campaign of censorship and blacklisting that has been underway at least since April, when Ben Gomes, the company’s VP of engineering, said Google was seeking to promote “authoritative” news outlets over “alternative” news sources.
Google escalates blacklisting of left-wing web sites and
By Andre Damon
20 October 2017
In a sweeping expansion of its moves to censor the Internet,
Google has removed leading left-wing websites and journalists from
its popular news aggregation platform, Google News.
At the time of publication, a search for “World Socialist Web
Site” on news.google.com does not return a single article
published on the WSWS. A search for the exact title of any of the
articles published during that period likewise returns no results.
Over the past seven days, news.google.com has referred only 53
people to the World Socialist Web Site, a 92 percent
decline from the weekly average of over 650 during the past year.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges
informed the WSWS Wednesday that his articles had ceased appearing
on Google News. Hedges said the change occurred after the
publication of his interview
with the World Socialist Web Site in which he
spoke out against Google’s censorship of left-wing sites.
“Sometime after I gave that interview, they blacklisted me,” said
Hedges. “If you go into Google News and type my name, there are
six stories, none of which have anything to do with me.”
“I write constantly. Previously, Google News listed my columns
for Truthdig and my contributions to Common Dreams and Alternet,
as well as references to my books,” Hedges said. “But now it’s all
gone. And I’m certain it’s because I spoke out against the Google
Google appears to have kept an older version of its news
aggregator available online, accessible by visiting google.com and
clicking the “news” link below the search bar. That version of the
news aggregator, which appears to be in the process of being
phased out, lists 254,000 results for the search “World Socialist
A similar search returns 89,600 entries for “Chris Hedges.”
The changes to Google News mark a new stage in a systematic
campaign of censorship and blacklisting that has been underway at
least since April, when Ben Gomes, the company’s VP of
engineering, said Google was seeking to promote “authoritative”
news outlets over “alternative” news sources.
Since then, thirteen leading left-wing web sites have had their
search traffic from Google collapse by 55 percent, with the World
Socialist Web Site having had its search traffic plunge by
“Just speaking as a journalist, it’s terrifying,” Hedges said.
“Those people who still try and do journalism, they’re the ones
getting hit; especially those journalists that attempt to grapple
with issues of power and the corporate state.
“This shows not only how bankrupt the state is, but how
frightened it is,” Hedges said.
“Google is developing ever more intensive methods of targeting,
aimed at blocking any dissenting critical voices,” said David
North, the chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the
World Socialist Web Site.
“This is an unprecedented attack on free speech. In the history
of the United States, censorship on this scale has never been
imposed outside of wartime,” he added, pointing to the blocking of
Trotskyist publications during World War II.
Hedges noted the precedent of political repression during World
War I. “In the name of national security, for the duration of the
war they shut down The Masses,” a left-wing,
The intensification of Google’s crackdown on left-wing sites
takes place against the backdrop of a sharp acceleration of the
anti-Russian campaign led by congressional Democrats, together
with sections of the Republican Party, the US intelligence
agencies and leading news outlets.
On Thursday, Democratic Party senators Mark Warner and Amy
Klobuchar introduced the first piece of legislation to come out of
the campaign surrounding the claim that Russia sought to “meddle”
in the 2016 election by “sowing divisions” within American
society, an unproven conspiracy theory aimed at creating a
justification for Internet censorship.
A summary of the bill obtained by Axios stated that it requires
“online platforms to make reasonable efforts to ensure that
foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political
advertisements in order to influence the American electorate,” and
to maintain a database of political advertisements supposedly
bought by foreigners.
In his remarks announcing the bill, Warner made clear that his
aim was to use it as the starting point for more aggressive
restrictions on free speech on the Internet. “What we want to try
to do is start with a light touch,” Warner said.
Commenting on the step-by-step nature of the censorship regime
being created in the United States, Hedges said, “If you look at
any totalitarian system, their assault on the press is
incremental. So even in Nazi Germany, when Hitler took power, he
would ban the Social Democrats’ publications for a week and then
let them get back up. He wouldn’t go in and shut it all down at
“Google is involved in an out-and-out political conspiracy, in
coordination with the government,” North said. “A secret
censorship program has been created that is directed against
opponents of American foreign policy. This is an illegal assault
on constitutionally protected rights.”
Hedges added, “I can tell you from having lived in and covered
despotic regimes, I think we’ve got to ring all of the alarm bells
while we still have the chance, because they’re not going to