Thursday, February 21, 2008

UN Watchdog Censures Google, Gets Censored

I really don't want to become one of those preachy, over-exaggerating bloggers writing for effect or out of bias, but I keep coming across these stories. The next one will be different I promise. An entry about why Russian women are hot or something (a surprisingly popular topic lately, and I have my own theory). But for now, the facts..

You know its a real story when even Fox News, that "fair and balanced" bastion of right-wing fuss TV-watchers* picks it up.

The short version: Inner City Press, a small but successful UN watchdog, is dropped from Google News after the Inner City Press publicly questioned Google's refusal to sign the UN compact on human rights and anti-censorship principles. Google responded by delisting Inner City Press from its Google News Service. On February 8, 2008, Google News sent Inner City press an email which began:

We periodically review news sources, particularly following user complaints, to ensure Google News offers a high quality experience for our users. When we reviewed your site we've found that we can no longer include it in Google News.

"Don't be evil" indeed. The Global Accountability Project has further details here.

I would like to stress that although the Inner City Press clearly has an agenda, that is to monitor the doings of the United Nations and point out wrong-doing when they see it, they do it from a straightforward journalistic approach; they aren't a political group of permanently seeking to paint the UN in a bad light. Having spent time in Afghanistan, where UN malfeasance and mismanagement played role in killing much of the naiveté I had left, I can say the Inner City Press is a model of restraint, if not too restrained. The problem with such truly bad things is that others tend to thing you are exaggerating or operating on too extreme of a bias when you say them. I used to think such people were foolish too, until I became one of them. The same thing applies to some of my more outlandish adventures; I generally don't tell most people because they just don't believe it (one of the reasons I have over 4,000 pictures on my personal flickr page. Having a photo of myself flying a helicopter over the Pakistani mountains or playing snow polo is a lot easier, and faster).

* To be fair, most TV news channels are mostly fluff. I stopped watching any of them when I saw a pieces titled "Bush Girls Good Girls - Where Did They Go Right?" Not only is this not true, it is not news, and therefore a waste of airtime.

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