In the span of just a few short years, Google has gone from a company whose unofficial motto was “Do no evil,” to a company whose new motto should be “commerce over humanity” whatever the cost. How else can one explain Mountain View’s behind the scenes legal support of Backpage — the loathsome classified advertising website that for years has allegedly been knowingly facilitating child sex trafficking on its platform.
As Nicholas Kristof reports today in the New York Times, Google has been working behind the scenes for several years to support Backpage in legal cases filed by its victims — some as young as 12 years old — who had been sold repeatedly for sex on the advertising site. The details are horrific, but for those with a strong stomach, Consumer Watchdog provides all of the gory details of Google’s secret funding of groups supporting Backpage’s legal defense against victims here.
What makes Google’s support of sex trafficking (and really there’s no other way to categorize it) so brazenly hypocritical is that the company and its paid non-profit factotums use the flimsiest of “free speech” arguments in their defense of Backpage. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, they insist, companies cannot be held liable for the activity of users posting material on or through their platforms, even if those companies know that the users are engaging in illegal activity.
In the Backpage cases, victims argued that the company knowingly facilitated underage girls being sold for sex by editing out code words in the advertisements such as “Lolita” and “Amber alert” — words that clearly suggested they were underage — and then posting the ads anyway. According to these non-profits even then, Backpage should be protected under the so-called online “free speech” provisions afforded under Section 230.
Indeed, even as Nicolas Kristof’s takedown of Google and Backpage went to print this morning, the Electronic Frontier Foundation — one of the organizations funded by Google to support Backpage’s legal defense — published their own action alert arguing that legislation to hold Backpage accountable would “greatly weaken Section 230’s protections for online free speech and innovation.”
Given Google’s recent censorship crusade, its commitment to “free speech” is downright laughable. And there is a dynamite equivalency argument here that exposes their hypocrisy in a particularly striking fashion: Does Google believe that Diamond and Silk, two African American Trump supporters who post humorous videos on YouTube are worse than websites that facilitate the trafficking of 12 year old girls? Apparently so, because the company recently demonetized their videos, while moving legal heaven and earth to support Backpage’s free speech claims in court.
Do they believe that Canadian professor Jordan Peterson’s biblical lecture on YouTube is more offensive than a company that facilitates the online sale of a 13-year old girl whose pimp tattooed his name on her eyelids? Apparently they do: Google recently locked Peterson’s YouTube account without explanation during a biblical lecture series for a “violation of terms of service.” Only two days later Google’s lobbyists were begging Congress to support online free speech by opposing amendments to Section 230 that would hold facilitators of sex trafficking like Backpage accountable.
What the world is quickly coming to realize is that Google’s billions of users worldwide are captives to its monopoly platform. For all its talk of online freedom, the company no longer views us as customers (in point of fact it never did). No, in Google’s world, we are “products” to be exploited and monetized for Google’s benefit. Nowhere is the “product” analogy more evident than the company’s indefensible support of Backpage, a company that has allegedly made millions treating helpless underage victims as “products” to be used, exploited, and ultimately discarded.
Christie-Lee McNally is the founder of Free Our Internet. She was the Maine Statewide Director for Donald J. Trump for President in 2016, is a concealed weapons permit holder, and a USAW Certified Olympic Lifting Coach. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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