Google has warned The Federalist that it could be banished and outright banned ZeroHedge, another popular site, because of the content of their comment sections.
A Google ban can potentially ruin a site financially. It prevents it from earning from Google ads.
Google said in a statement:
“We have strict publisher policies that govern the content ads can run on, which includes comments on the site,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “If the site remedies the issues with derogatory or offensive comments, they can be reinstated.”
Google is a platform that enjoys special legal protections regarding content. This is Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. Here is how it works (as explained in an Atlantic article):
So for instance, if a Facebook user writes something libelous on their wall, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t have to worry about anybody hauling his company into court. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called Section 230 “the most important law protecting Internet speech.”
If Google threatens sites such as The Federalist or ZeroHedge, in other words, it is not doing so out of legal considerations. It is simply ordering sites not to have content of which Google disapproves. So far, Google has disapproved mostly of conservative content. It has been suggested that Google should not enjoy 230 protections if it in effect censors content of conservative-leaning sites.
What did Google and ZeroHedge do to merit such treatment? The UK Daily Mail scrapes up a few details. Apparently, it started with complaints from a U.K. think tank:
Google has sparked outrage and accusations of censorship after banning right-wing website ZeroHedge and cautioning The Federalist from its ad platform.
What exactly Google complained to The Federalist over remains murky and it’s unclear if they ever threatened to ban it from the ad platform.
The row began with an NBC report which suggested Google acted after receiving a report from a British think tank that flagged that The Federalist had used a ‘black crime‘ tag to categorize content.
It also flagged a story in which a journalist claimed the media was ‘lying’ by reporting that white supremacists were involved in looting. It specifically singled out CNN and the New York Times.
ZeroHedge was flagged by the think tank for claiming the BLM protests sweeping the nation were being funded by Democrat mega-donor George Soros.
So these are things you can’t say now?
But there is another twist: it may involve something as simple and underhanded as the legacy media trying to eliminate competition. Federalist Co-founder Sean Davis said as much on Tucker Carlson’s show last night:
Federalist Co-founder Sean Davis slammed legacy media Tuesday night after NBC News attempted to strip The Federalist of its Google ad revenue by collaborating with a left-wing British think tank to complain to the tech giant about Federalist reporting.
“NBC, the network that coddled Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer by the way, had partnered with a foreign left-wing group in Europe to go after us and to use Google,” Davis said on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
I know this is getting long, but I want to include NBC’s story on the situation—it jumped the gun and had Google being banned, in what can only look to the suspicious like over-eagerness. Here is some of it:
Google has banned ZeroHedge, a far-right website that often traffics in conspiracy theories, from its advertising platform over policy violations found in the comments section of stories about recent Black Lives Matter protests.
. . .
Google’s ban comes after the company was notified of research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a British nonprofit that combats online hate and misinformation. They found that 10 U.S-based websites have published what they say are racist articles about the protests, and projected that the websites would make millions of dollars through Google Ads.
ZeroHedge had already been demonetized prior to NBC News’ inquiry, Google said. ZeroHedge and The Federalist did not respond to requests for comment.
Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said it found advertisements for many companies that had otherwise made public statements supporting Black Lives Matter and the recent protests running on the websites.
“We found that lots of those companies are inadvertently funding through their advertising content that is outright racist in defense of white supremacism and contains conspiracy theories about George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement,” he said.
How’s that for objective reporting?
Looks like the U. K.’s Center for Countering Hate, which “flagged” Federalist content, is the Southern Poverty Law Center with an English accent.