How free are we on Google?

We live in an internet age so people might think that we live in an age where censorship is limited to the corporate media and that what is said on the internet is fair game (legally speaking, i.e don’t slander). Unfortunately that is not the case as the internet is dominated by search engines that are linked to larger corporations.

Look at Google. The internet is rather fond of the search engine. Google has become such a dominant part of the internet age that the search engine is used as a verb. “Go Google it.” While Google tends to be the search engine of choice, it could be argued that it has too much power.

In 2008 Google cut the Inner City Press’s news stories from their Google News page. Why were the stories buried? The Inner City Press was reporting upon corruption in the United Nations. Matthew Lee, founder of the website said, “I think they said, ‘If we can’t get this guy out of the U.N., let’s disappear him from the Internet.” The Fox News story that published the Inner City Press story said Lee received a letter from Google that the search engine would no longer include Lee’s stories in Google News due to complaints they received about the website.

That same year Google China removed Guo Quan’s name from Google search results. He is a Chinese professor who often writes critically about the Communist government in China. After realizing he was being blocked from Google and Yahoo’s search engine results he decided to sue both search engines for denying him his rights.

Mr Guo said that he could not sue Google or Yahoo! in China since they have no formal legal identity, but he would press his lawsuits against the parent companies in the United States. “They have infringed my right to my name, and also the rights of anyone called Guo Quan because you can find no information for this name.

“They have violated my political rights. I am opposed to violence and dictatorship but these sites have blocked me.”

In 2010 Google came under fire again for agreeing to obey the Chinese government’s censorship demands. In accordance with these laws, Google China cannot link to any material that could be deemed a threat to national or social security.

So what aren’t we finding when we type in a quick search to Google? Should we be utilizing multiple search engines to optimize our results the same way we should rely on multiple news outlets to get a fuller picture of what is happening?