California: Google is defending its controversial decision to remove what it calls “wrong opinion columns” online, including certain news websites.
The announcement, which has angered journalists and bloggers, follows a raft of measures being taken by the tech giant to stamp out so-called ‘fake news’ and ‘questionable content’ online.
“From 1 July, Google will be removing wrong opinion columns, including content that is of questionable value to readers,” the statement read.
“This includes opinion columns in news websites and those in general discussion online forums. Google would like to remind users that it values free speech, but we do not tolerate wrong opinions and conspiracy theories.”
When a Congressional panel in Washington demanded clarification on what a “wrong opinion” was, Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, pointed to 9/11 and the 2003 war in Iraq.
“One example that comes to mind is 9/11 … we know that there is nothing more to the story than 19 hijackers with box-cutters…just as we know that Saddam stole yellow cake from Niger and stashed away thousands of Weapons of Mass Destruction,” he said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a government official present at the hearing said it was ironic that Schmidt had used examples that were “themselves filled with more holes than Swiss cheese”.
In a further hint of things to come, Google said it would also be cracking down on live video and images posted online, stipulating that “any video or image being posted must first be approved by Google” before being published.
The move has drawn sharp condemnation from rights groups who complain that Google’s decision effectively removes the ability of journalists to live stream important events.
One reporter, who uploaded a video of Saudi police opening fire on peaceful protesters was deleted less than six minutes after it was uploaded on YouTube,