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Googling Our Way to Extinction

Have you ever gone down a YouTube rabbit hole? It can be a complete waste of energy, but also fun and educational sometimes too. The other night I searched for a clip from the movie Witness, where Harrison Ford’s character confronts tourists who are harassing an Amish family (great scene btw), and the next thing I know, I am laughing through multiple Natasha Leggero and Don Rickles appearances, learning how to cut watermelons, and watching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., tell a joke to Harry Belafonte on The Tonight Show. In other words, I had a really good time.
If you think about it, the Google owned YouTube platform is amazing, and carries with it tremendous influence and power. Unfortunately, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the more power Google obtains, and its willingness to do the right thing with regards to censorship, privacy, and the sharing of its technologies. 

There was yet another US backed Israeli assault on Gaza between August 5-7, 2022, that killed 49 Palestinians, including 17 children. Seventeen more kids, and the obedient US corporate media once again ignored the story. I learned from Noam Chomsky many years ago that the Israeli terror attacks are so frequent that the Israeli soldiers jokingly refer to their killing sprees as “mowing the lawn.” It is no surprise then that I could not find one report on Google’s YouTube feed, that objectively covered the latest massacres committed by Israel. Not one. Can you imagine if the dead Palestinian children were white American kids from a higher income community? Fuhgeddaboudit. There are also no stories to be found on the YouTube feed that report on poverty in the US (140 million Americans living at or below poverty), lack of healthcare and social services (40-90 million Americans are either underinsured or have no health insurance, which causes an estimated 70,000 deaths per year), Anti-War voices, our broken food system, etc. You know, the elephants in the room kind of stuff. Conversely, there were at least a dozen stories on a wealthy blonde haired jogger who was apparently abducted, and killed by someone she may have known. An awful story no doubt, but one that conveniently supports the narrative that the world is a scary place and we therefore need to give as much money as we can to the military and police, and not ask any questions. If you haven’t noticed, the overwhelming number of videos on YouTube now push state and corporate media story lines, and seem to focus primarily on street crimes, gun & domestic violence, and sports. There are virtually no “news” clips on YouTube, or in the mainstream media, that report objectively on the much more destructive, and broadly damaging state and white collar crimes. Do you remember when Google used to seem cool? Tragically, Google & YouTube are now official card carrying members of the corporate media landscape.

“He who controls the media, controls the minds of the public…the more you can increase fear of drugs, crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all of the people.” ― Noam Chomsky

Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting ( does wonderful work, and in their piece titled “YouTube’s Biggest Info Channels Carry Corporate News, Not Alternative Views”, they explain how YouTube has become a shill for corporations, and the billionaire class. Here is an excerpt: “But despite the focus on the site’s independent and sometimes extremist offerings, 83 of the top 100 YouTube news channels, based on a list from SocialBlade, a website that tracks YouTube statistics, as of May 4th, are corporate media, meaning owned and funded by large companies or conglomerates. Only four of the 100 top news channels are independently run.”
If you are unfamiliar, YouTube is a Google owned video sharing website that is believed to have over 2.6 billion active users. Think about that for a second, over 1/3 of the world’s population uses YouTube, which makes it one of the most influential and popular apps in the world (behind only Google, and Facebook). Most of the news clips that I watch via YouTube are from independent news sources (because they are much closer to the truth), yet despite my viewing history, YouTube continues to push corporate media channels as if they are the only available options (CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, etc.). The independent news sites that I typically visit are omitted from their algorithm, and no longer pop up as a result of my “user habits”. Each time I go to YouTube, I have to physically type in the independent news sources, so to avoid the posts from YouTube’s corporate media rotation (mainstream media channels are replete with dishonest personalities, and have long been champions of corporate agendas, and war profiteers). YouTube’s actions are just another example of a “profits over people” approach, which is unsustainable, and will leave most viewers grossly misinformed and easier to manipulate. So, what happened to the YouTube algorithms that were once based on user habits? Just follow the money (more on that later).
But it is not just the user habits that are being expunged, it is also great content as well. YouTube has removed RT America (which carried the excellent work of Chris Hedges, Abby Martin, and others) because it challenged the status quo, and was funded by the Russian government. As per Democracy Now!: “YouTube has deleted the entire archive of “On Contact,” an Emmy-nominated television show hosted by Chris Hedges. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist hosted the show for six years on RT America, a news channel funded by the Russian government that recently closed down.” In a recent article, Chris Hedges writes, “If this happens to me, it can happen to you, to any critic anywhere who challenges the dominant narrative.”
Chris Hedges also had this to say on Google’s seemingly abrupt decision to remove 300+ shows, including RT America, without any explanation, “I did expect such a scenario as soon as I read the 2017 Director of National Intelligence report. It was clear that RT was a target. I also watched [James] Clapper, the director of national intelligence, as he testified before Congress. When he spoke about RT he was clearly enraged. Seven pages of that report, which was about supposed Russian interference in the elections of 2016, were dedicated to RT. Those seven pages explained why they didn’t like RT. While they accused RT of Russian propaganda, all of the examples they cited had nothing to do with Russian propaganda. It had to do with giving a voice to occupy activists, anti-fracking activists, third party candidates, and Black Lives Matter activists. That’s why they went after it. They were waiting for the moment when they could shut it down for that reason. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine gave them the opportunity they were waiting for…Critics such as myself have been pushed very far to the margins, especially if you are as critical as I am of the Democratic Party. I’m a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Those two things are enough to get you pushed aside…RT gave space to American critics who were denied space elsewhere. We don’t know the official reason it was shut down, because Google which owns YouTube never told us. These social media platforms are completely opaque. They engage and censor without ever explaining or even giving notice to those they censor.”
As per Abby Martin, “The shuttering of RT America is devastating news. It was one of the only alternatives to US centric corporate domination of our airwaves and it gave unmatched platforms to consistent anti-war voices like Lee Camp, Chris Hedges & myself…I had a show on RT America for three years. I had the editorial freedom to criticize Russia many times. I was never told what to do or say. The cartoonish depiction of the network is false and it’s grotesque to cheer on censorship of voices that need exposure.”
But wait, it gets even worse. Google workers who have pushed for the cancellation of a secret Google program with Israel, are now being threatened and terminated by Google’s “culture of retaliation” (Google’s covert project with Israel will provide advanced artificial intelligence tools to the Israeli government and military). As per Democracy Now, “The Intercept recently obtained documents about what’s known as Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract between Google and Israel. The Intercept reports, quote, “documents indicate that the new cloud would give Israel capabilities for facial detection, automated image categorization, object tracking, and even sentiment analysis that claims to assess the emotional content of pictures, speech, and writing.” This all comes as a worker at Google says she was forced out of the company for organizing against Google’s secretive work with Israel. In her resignation letter, Ariel Koren wrote, quote, “Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights, to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear…It’s simple: just as in any community, Jews have differing backgrounds, political perspectives, and yes, views on the Israeli government’s actions. We should be free to stand in solidarity with our coworkers and our users without fear of reprisal. Millions of Jews oppose Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Google knows this, and has intentionally silenced hundreds of voices, putting profit over people through contracts like Project Nimbus”. As per Google worker Gabriel Schubiner, who is an Alphabet Workers Union organizer, “Cloud technology is extremely powerful, and providing that power to a violent military and to an apartheid government is not a neutral act.” Wow.
And what about privacy and surveillance? The Associated Press published a report showing that Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft fielded more than 112,000 data requests from local, state and federal officials, and that the companies agreed to hand over some data in 85% of those cases. According to author Shoshana Zuboff, who wrote The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, “There are a few other interesting lies here. We think we’re searching Google; Google is actually searching us. We think that these companies have privacy policies; those policies are actually surveillance policies. We’re told that if we have nothing to hide, then we have nothing to fear. The fact is, what they don’t tell us and what we are forgetting, that if you have nothing to hide, then you are nothing, because everything about us that makes us our unique identities, that gives us our individual spirit, our personality, our sense of freedom of will, freedom of action, our sense of our right to our own futures, that’s what comes from within. Those are our inner resources. That’s our private realm. And it’s intended to be private for a reason, because that is how it grows and flourishes and turns us into people who assert moral autonomy, an essential element of a flourishing, democratic society.”
I recently learned that the founders of Google, Larry Page (net worth $92.8 billion) and Sergey Brin (net worth $100 billion), are still the majority stakeholders in the company, which now has a parent organization that they created called “Alphabet”. And who are some of the stakeholders in Alphabet, Inc.? The two biggest appear to be the Vanguard Group (holdings include Exxon Mobil (planet destroyers), Pfizer, PEPSI, CVS, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, etc.), and BlackRock Fund Advisors (holdings include Chevron (planet destroyers), General Electric (weapon manufacturers), Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, & Berkshire Hathaway). It is hardly surprising then that Google decided to push corporate narratives through the YouTube platform as the companies listed above are mostly awful, and unconscionable. Incidentally, BlackRock was originally a part of Blackstone Financial, which is a company with a horrendous track record as well (Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman was once celebrated as the first CEO of a public company to “make” over $1 billion per year, as he led the way to the Wall Street take over of the housing market, and Blackstone’s efforts to buy up single family units and raise the rents (to literally force people out of their homes), so that that they could re-negotiate prices). Isn’t capitalism great? What a company!
So, this is what Google and YouTube have become, and what we are up against. Google is clearly placing profits over people and partnering with wicked and unlawful corporations and governments that are calling the shots, and controlling people and information. I use Google, and many of its products every day. Their technology is scarily good and often fun, and I am happy that I can at least manually access what little remains of the reliable content on their platform. But unless something changes, their greed and lust for power will only grow, and be more difficult to overcome. Google’s failure (so far) to fight the good fight, and be on the right side of history, will make it that much harder for those who advocate for peace, justice and equality, which of course includes plant-based diets, animal rights, and our only planet. Damn!
Main Image: Banksy
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