The evidence that Google blacklists employees for their political views raises doubts about their search algorithm.
James Damore claims that Google blacklists employees for holding “conservative views”—or views that show any sign of not being lock-step Leftist. But if evidence exists for Google blacklists what about their secret, proprietary search algorithms? Those things are highly secret. Does anyone think that the same company that allows employees to blacklist others is trustworthy to give impartial search results?
Leonid Bershidsky writes for Boomberg View, “If Google’s workplace is biased, what about its algorithms?”
Google’s prevailing culture appears to be hostile to right-wing political views. As one manager wrote on an internal bulletin board (the screenshot is used in the lawsuit), “If you express a dunderheaded opinion about religion, about politics, or about ‘social justice,’ it turns out I am allowed to think you’re a halfwit” and refuse to work with such a person on a project.
“As evidenced by the fact that the blacklisting posts remain live on Google’s internal corporate network, it is clear that Google took no action to prevent blacklisting,” Damore and Gudeman wrote in the lawsuit. “Google seems to ignore most cases, and occasionally ‘coach’ the worst offenders. However, Google will not openly come out against the practice; instead, it relies on crowdsourced harassment and ‘pecking’ to enforce social norms (including politics) that it feels it cannot write directly into its policies.”[…]
Google’s search algorithms are a black box to the public. People inside the company can mess with them without telling us, potentially imposing their internal culture on millions of searchers who have no reason and no desire to share it. This world includes Trump supporters and “antifa” activists, creationist pastors and evolutionary biologists, climate change deniers and people who consider them evil. It’s not up to an internet search company to try to level these differences. But if that company fosters a work culture in which a certain worldview dominates, can its products be trusted to be neutral?
That question is what worries me about the Damore suit. Given its special place in the modern world, Google must strictly enforce political neutrality and punish partisanship and zealotry in any form. Its mission as a neutral conduit is more important even than workplace cohesion. Silencing any kind of views, no matter how offensive, undermines that mission.
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