Big Tech: From Threat to Savior of Democracy?

In the course of a week, big tech has gone from being one of the great threats to American democracy to being the self-proclaimed savior of American democracy.

Congress last year was discussing using federal anti-trust laws to break up Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet, Inc’s Google for engaging in anti-competitive, monopolistic business practices.

A bipartisan Congressional investigation concluded: “These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement. Our economy and democracy are at stake.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of Google, Facebook and Twitter were hauled before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to answer charges they engage in selective censorship of Republican content on the internet. They denied it but GOP pressed for repeal of a federal law that protects these platforms from lawsuits.

Big tech was on the defensive then but things have changed.

Tables Turn

Given recent events, it is stunning that in the past week big tech literally shut down speech over the Internet by the GOP President of the United States, various high-ranking GOP elected officials and prominent conservative commentators. They also nuked the social network Parler, a rising alternative to Twitter.

Google, Facebook and Twitter justify their actions by claiming the GOP targets pose a threat to democracy because they questioned the integrity of the recent Presidential election. The platforms blame their targets for a small group of thugs breaking into the Capitol building – which at the time had virtually no security measures in place – during a Jan. 6 Trump rally on election fraud.

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Did Google’s CEO Lie To Congress?

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet Inc., and its subsidiary, Google, testified under oath before a U.S. Senate Committee in August that Google does not “politically tilt anything one way or the other.”

That isn’t true, says Dr. Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist for the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology who is monitoring the behavior of search engines in the Presidential election.

Epstein says Google deliberately swayed at least 6 million votes toward Democrat Joe Biden through Go Vote reminders and manipulated search results to send liberal content to both liberals and conservatives.

Caught In The Act?

Among other things, Epstein said he studied 733 politically-diverse computer users and determined that Google sent “Go Vote” reminders only to individuals it profiled as liberals from Oct. 26 through Oct. 29. None were sent to individuals profiled as conservative.

Epstein said he got Google to stop this practice four days before the election by emailing his concerns to The New York Post, which was doing a story about large-scale election rigging by big tech. “I did so knowing that all emails are shared with algorithms and employees at Google,” he said.

(Epstein says major news organizations, universities and businesses that use Google services, as well as individuals using gmail, effectively surrender their privacy because their emails run through Google computers.)

Pichai swore to the U.S. Senate Judiciary in August that Google does not meddle in America’s elections. He testified under oath: “We won’t do any work, you know, to politically tilt anything one way or the other. It’s against core values.” He subsequently promised not to promote a particular political party, candidate or view point in the 2020 presidential election.

Three GOP senators sent Pichai a letter on Nov. 5 asking if his prior testimony about non-interference in American elections was accurate.

U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) referred to Epstein’s research showing that Google had sent Go Vote notices to liberals but not conservatives. They said it appeared Pichai’s assertion that Google is apolitical “is not true.”

Lee said Epstein’s allegations “appear credible and are very concerning. If it is true that Google is targeting messages to help Democrats win elections, then Google has not been truthful to Congress and has deceived countless Americans.”

Seeking Answers

The Senators said they will ask Epstein to provide Congress with evidence of “Google’s politically biased activities his monitoring collected during this election cycle.”

They urged Pichai to “conduct a thorough review with your management team to determine the veracity of your previous responses to congressional inquiry regarding this issue, and correct your answers if necessary.”

Cruz said Google “has more power than any company on the face of the planet, and Dr. Epstein’s findings raise serious concerns about Google’s abuse of that power and its willingness to manipulate its platform to help Joe Biden win the presidency”

Google did not respond to an email request for comment on Tuesday.

Did Google Decide the 2020 Pres. Election?

Google, the massive search engine, may have swayed from 2.6 million to 10.4 million votes for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016  U.S. Presidential election.

This year it is estimated that Google swayed a bare minimum of 6 million votes to Democrat Joe Biden, enough to “elect” Biden.

This is conclusion of Dr. Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist for the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and a former editor in chief of Psychology Today. He earned a Ph.D. at Harvard and has published 15 books and 300 scientific and mainstream articles.

You may never have heard of Epstein and his concerns that Google has run amuck because … Well, why would Google want to tell you that?

Invisible Algorithms

Epstein told Congress last summer that Google poses a “serious threat to Democracy” because it displays content to the public that is biased in favor of the candidate that Google supports. On Monday, Epstein said that Google continued its partisan campaign in the election, influencing both liberals and conservatives to support Biden and dump GOP President Donald Trump.

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Trump/Pelosi: “Let Them Eat Cake”

There are no heroes in the political impasse to extend pandemic relief to workers and small business owners who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to survive due to Covid-19.

Both Republicans and Democrats for months have been using the suffering of the American people to position themselves in the upcoming Presidential election.

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a nonpartisan but left-leaning research institute based in Washington, DC, recently observed that frontline workers and small businesses are suffering disproportionately in the pandemic.

The Center notes business is booming for large corporations, like Amazon, Apple and Google, and the S&P 500 is up more than 5 %. Yet, 30 to 40 million people may be at risk of eviction, food insecurity is rising (especially in households with children) and growing numbers of people are suffering mental health challenges.

Marie Antoinette, the queen of France during the French Revolution, supposedly issued the dismissive comment, “Let them eat cake,”  during a 1789 famine after being informed that peasants were starving. The staple food of the French diet was then bread. The phrase is often uttered to denounce the upper class’ callous disregard for the suffering of the poor.

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EEOC Makes its Presence Known in Silicon Valley

The EEOC this week filed a lawsuit alleging age discrimination in hiring against a Silicon Valley, CA, employer.

No, the EEOC didn’t sue Google or Microsoft. The EEOC sued  the city of Milpitas for violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act by choosing a younger candidate over older applicants with greater qualifications for the position of executive secretary to the city manager. The city allegedly failed to hire four qualified applicants who scored higher than the person selected in a three-person panel review of the candidates.  The individuals who were not selected were 55, 42, 56 and 58 years old. Instead, EEOC alleges the city hired a younger applicant (age 39) who was less qualified than these people, without a valid justification for disregarding the panel rankings.

EEOCAge discrimination in hiring is particularly blatant in Silicon Valley, where the high-tech industry is notorious for hiring only young workers.  Some Silicon Valley employers unabashedly advertise for job applicants who are “digital natives” and “recent graduates.”

A  60-year-old software engineer who was not hired by Google in 2011 filed a class action age discrimination lawsuit against Google earlier this year. The lawsuit  alleges the company’s workforce is “grossly disproportionate” with respect to age. The lawsuit asserts the median age of the 28,000 employees who worked for Google in 2013 was 29.  The U.S. Department of Labor reports the median age for computer programmers in the United States is 42.8 and the median age for software developers is 40.6.

EEOC Senior Counsel Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, in a speech last summer, singled out open and flagrant age discrimination in the high-tech industry, adding, “Some of our officers have made it a priority in looking at age discrimination in the tech industry.”

 Silicon Valley has been a virtual apartheid ‘state’ for younger workers for years.

The EEOC lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (EEOC v. City of Milpitas, Case No. 5:15-cv-04444) after attempts failed to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  EEOC’s suit seeks, among other things, monetary damages for the four applicants and injunctive relief intended to prevent a recurrence of age discrimination in City of Milpitas government.

“Older workers continue to face discrimination based on age due to negative stereotypes and inaccurate assumptions about their abilities,” said EEOC San Francisco Acting Regional Attorney Jonathan Peck.  “It is important for employers to ensure that such stereotyping does not impact a person’s ability to be employed.  Employment decisions must be based on merit, not age.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director William R. Tamayo added, “Age discrimination remains a problem, making up 23 percent of all EEOC charges filed in the United States last year.  It is important that employers not ignore the value that older workers can bring to their workforce.”