In the last few years, Google seems to have been acting against their motto, the simple maxim “don’t be evil.”
Persistent stories of their bias and election interference make it hard to believe that is their slogan at all. Now, the company’s own employees are jumping ship after learning about a secretive project in development: Project Dragonfly.
The project itself is an attempt by Google to enter the Chinese market by delivering a custom-made censorship engine to the Communist regime. The company has not had a presence in China for almost ten years.
This August, the lid was blown off the secret project, which only a few hundred knew about originally. Revelations included CEO Sundar Pichai meeting with a Chinese official as well as tech demonstrations of the program.
This program would give China the tech giant’s power and presence, while ensuring its citizens remain oppressed behind the Great Firewall.
Recent leaks from Google have shown that the company may have acted to influence voters in United States elections through their search engine, so it’s not hard to imagine China seeing great potential in this power.
While this sounds horrific to Americans who value a free and open election, it reads like an advertisement to the oppressive Chinese regime.
The Chinese government is no friend to freedom of speech. Crackdowns are frequent, and even searches for certain things are crimes against the communist government. Project Dragonfly would put Google’s name on that sort of censorship.
After being revealed, the program sparked a major backlash.
Senior Google scientist Jack Poulson brought his reservations about the program to management. After unproductive talks with leadership, Poulson left the company on August 31.
Six others have also left, citing a lack of transparency.
The leak of Dragonfly and the resulting high-profile exit of a senior researcher come at a time when Google is already weathering a political storm over questions about bias.
Even President Donald Trump is weighing in, alleging that Google is skewing the search results of anyone who looks up news about him.
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
Other conservatives have also complained, coming forward over an alleged bias against right-leaning Americans.
Google seems to be doing little to calm lawmakers and conservative Americans. Instead, one of their most famous incidents in the midst of the recent scandals has been their absence at a Senate intelligence committee. Facebook and Twitter both had representatives present at the meeting.
According to the leak, Project Dragonfly could launch in as soon as six months.
Is a product like this in the works for the American market? It’s terrifying to think of what Google could accomplish if they actively began to tamper with search results.
Until then, we’re left to watch them censor in China.
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