For those who don’t know me, my name is Phillip Schneider and I’ve been working in the alternative media for almost three years, communicating important information ignored by the mainstream press through writing, primarily for the Waking Times.
It came to my attention a couple of days ago that because of my “creative commons” policy, which allows other media outlets to more easily share my articles, that Google had decided to effectively shut down my site from their search results.
Being one of my biggest referrers in the past, Google is essentially cutting me off from reaching my potential future audience – and also limiting my reach so that people will be getting more establishment media in their search results (CNN, Fox, etc.)
Claiming “duplicate content” is the way Google is able to get around criticism of censorship, instead arguing that their search results will be better when people aren’t seeing multiples of the same article.
However, it’s only the independent media which uses creative commons licensing, which means the de facto censorship of small-scale and starting journalists and bloggers from their search results.
This is all happening at a time where I’m starting to move over to my own platform, giving me the ability to cover more stories which I find important or interesting without needing conformation from an editor.
They also cut me off from advertising with them, claiming that my website is hard to navigate (it isn’t) and that I didn’t own the domain (I do).
I don’t feel that Google’s policies foster a landscape in which up-and-coming journalists, writers, or commenters can compete fairly with legacy media outlets like CNN or MSNBC.
Also, I don’t want to claim that I’m being censored for my journalism or political views without proof, but I genuinely don’t believe that Google (or the other tech giants) are building their algorithms and policies with the intent to help small-scale journalism with a strong code of ethics.
In fact, I think that the alternative media, which isn’t afraid to criticize Google, Facebook, or any other media giant, poses a threat to them in the sense that they hold their feet to the fire when they see unethical policies being rolled out – kind of like what I’m doing now.
What we can do about it
All of this might seem sort of dismal, but I’m not going to stop. In fact, this whole thing makes me want to fight harder because it’s becoming clear what’s at stake. Do you want to live in a world where information is controlled by a few multi-billion-dollar corporations, showing you content from other multi-billion-dollar corporations with their own agendas in mind? I hope not, and I don’t either.
Out of all the topics going on in the news cycle (health, politics, etc.), censorship is by far the most meaningful to me because without an open dialogue, people are essentially forced to have the conversation that big corporations and governments want us to have rather than the one we want to have – and that’s not good.
I believe that if people want control of their own narrative back, they need to start moving away from the big tech (and media) giants and support organizations and individuals with a strong code of ethics and who aren’t afraid to stand up to the powers that be.
How you can help – Circumventing Establishment-Controlled Communications
Figuring out a solution to this mess is both very easy and very hard. The easy part is simple: we know how easy it is to use decentralized platforms to communicate information, rather than using big name censors. However, this is easier said than done because people who aren’t being actively censored usually aren’t aware that this type of thing is going on or how significant it is, and I don’t particularly blame them either – why would they need to know if it doesn’t affect them personally?
But it does affect them, if only indirectly, even though they may not realize it.
The reason that the first amendment to the constitution was put in place and specifically mentioned the press (the only industry explicitly mentioned in the constitution) was because the framers knew that when powerful interests control the narrative, it can mean that criticism dies down due to the fact that the public isn’t being informed and that can open the door to needless wars, environmental damage, encroachment of our liberties, etc. It’s bad news.
It would only take as little as 1% of users moving to other platforms to cause the tech giants to change their ways – they do not want to lose their users because that means a significant profit loss long-term.
Moving Away from Big Tech – Where to Go
If you want to help, you can start moving away from big tech. That is the number one thing that can be done because it opens the door to fruitful competition and is incredibly easy. Here’s what you can do:
Move to a free and open search engine:
One of the biggest referrers for media outlets is search engines. If you are able to get to the top of a highly-searched phrase or keyword, it means massive amounts of traffic – and in turn, much needed revenue to keep yourself going strong despite push back.
In my opinion, the big-name search engines do not foster healthy competition like they should. Here are a few alternatives:
DuckDuckgo – A search engine which doesn’t track you and has much better algorithms for competitive journalism.
StartPage – Another comprehensive search engine which doesn’t track its users and does not censor independent views.
GoodGopher – A search engine created by Mike Adams of Natural News in an attempt to circumvent censorship from the major search engines like Google. It isn’t as comprehensive as the other two, but it allows for users to vote up or down on search results, giving searchers a lot more control over the content that they see.
Uncensored social media outlets you may not know about:
Facebook controls an enormous amount of social media usage – according to the New York Times, in 2016 users spent about 50 minutes per day on the platform and active users hit 1.65 billion.
Unfortunately, Facebook has been accused of censoring their users many times, as well as lowering the distribution of posts, forcing users to pay up to a thousand dollars just to reach one fifth of their audience who already “liked” their page.
Here are some better alternatives:
Minds (Follow Me) – Minds is an open-source, free speech, and privacy-based social network with the ability to gain cryptocurrency called “tokens” for using the platform, which you can use to “boost” your content to other users.
Diaspora (Follow Me) – Diaspora is a decentralized social network which allows anyone to host their own “pod” with their own terms of service which connects to the entire network. In other words, if you think that one pod is using your data in the wrong way or censoring your speech, you can just move to another pod on the network – this allows for the platform to be consistently free and open over time, regardless of the actions of each pod.
Gab (Follow Me) – Gab is a free speech social network which gained a sizable following in the past year or two – it’s completely free to use and has only been under scrutiny for censorship one time, to my knowledge.
Follow Alternative Media:
Of course, the best thing you can do is visit censored outlets directly and sign up for their email lists – that way you can get their content without going through a middle-man.
Here are some outlets to follow, which aren’t afraid to criticize the powers that be when they see it appropriate to do so:
And many more…
This article (How Google Censored Me off the Platform – Why it Matters and How you Can Help) was originally published by Phillip Schneider and may be re-posted with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.