September 29, 2010
By: Leslie Horn
Google recently added a predictive feature to its search engine called Google Instant, which is intended to display desired search results as you type.
“It’s search at the speed of thought,” Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products and user experience, said at a press conference in San Francisco earlier this month.
But what if those thoughts aren’t entirely appropriate? What words are not included in Google Instant?
The tool omits certain terms that it deems offensive. When you type in one of these words, the instant feature disappears. Google’s Joanna Wright told CNN that the constraints are in place to protect children. Although Google hasn’t released the list of terms itself, 2600.com has compiled a list from user input.
It reveals stark inconsistencies in the words with which Google Instant takes issue. For example, the word “lesbian” is blocked, but “gay” is not. “Cocaine” doesn’t make the cut, but words like “crack” and “heroin” are passable. Many seemingly innocuous words are blocked, too. “Scat,” as in the type of vocal improvisation often used by jazz musicians, is one of the strange excluded words, most likely because of its NSFW double meaning. The word “hate” is also blocked as is “Lolita,” the name of the classic novel by Vladimir Nabokov.
Hacker Web site 4chan is also not a Google Instant favorite. It blacklists if a user types “B” or “Y” after the name, 2600.com said.
If you notice a word blocked by Google Instant that is not on 2600.com’s list, they ask that you e-mail them with submissions. Of course, you can still search these terms, but they won’t be predicted when you’re typing them.
A Google spokesman said the company has a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, and hate speech, but the issue is complex.
“It’s important to note that removing queries from autocomplete is a hard problem, and not as simple as blacklisting particular terms and phrases,” he said in a statement. “In search, we get more than one billion searches each day. Because of this, we take an algorithmic approach to removals, and just like our search algorithms, these are imperfect.”
Those algorithms look not only at specific words, but phrases – in multiple languages.
“So, for example, if there’s a bad word in Russian, we may remove a compound word including the transliteration of the Russian word into English,” he said. “We also look at the search results themselves for given queries. So, for example, if the results for a particular query seem pornographic, our algorithms may remove that query from Autocomplete, even if the query itself wouldn’t otherwise violate our policies.”
He acknowledged that the system is “neither perfect nor instantaneous,” and said Google continues to “work to make it better.”
April 23, 2010
After last week’s episode of the Comedy Central series sparked a threat (and yes, it was certainly a threat) from a radical Islamic website, the network has cracked-down-for-their-own-good on creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone during last night’s continuation of the show’s storyline.
For those who missed the drama, the show’s 200th episode last week mocked the one “celebrity” that the series has been largely unable to depict, the Prophet Muhammad, who was hidden from view in a bear costume. A U.S.-based website RevolutionMuslim.com then warned Parker and Stone they could end up like Theo Van Gogh (the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by Muslim extremists after depicting Muhammad on his show) and even posted the address of the show’s production office. The site has since been shut down.
Last night, “South Park” continued the controversial Muhammad storyline, but with a key difference: every instance of the words “Prophet Muhammad” was bleeped out, making the episode practically incomprehensible, especially to anybody who missed the previous week.
The character of Muhammad was once again also hidden from view, covered by a large block labeled “censored.”
A Comedy Central spokesperson confirmed it was the network’s decision to bleep the words.
The Muhammad content is also not available on the South Park Studios website.
A message on the site states: “We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show. We will bring you a version of [episode] 201 as soon as we can.”
Ironically, “South Park” apparently shows an image of the Prophet Muhammad briefly in its opening credits that has gone largely unnoticed.
February 12, 2010
By Asher Moses
Google says it will not “voluntarily” comply with the government’s request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad “refused classification” (RC) content rules.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy referred to Google’s censorship on behalf of the Chinese and Thai governments in making his case for the company to impose censorship locally.
Google warns this would lead to the removal of many politically controversial, but harmless, YouTube clips.
University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, one of Australia’s top communications experts, said that to comply with Conroy’s request Google “would have to install a filter along the lines of what they actually have in China”.
As it prepares to introduce legislation within weeks forcing ISPs to block a blacklist of RC websites, the government says it is in talks with Google over blocking the same type of material from YouTube.
YouTube’s rules already forbid certain videos that would be classified RC, such as sex, violence, bestiality and child pornography. But the RC classification extends further to more controversial content such as information on euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit more minor crimes such as painting graffiti.
Google said all of these topics were featured in videos on YouTube and it refused to censor these voluntarily. It said exposing these topics to public debate was vital for democracy.
In an interview with the ABC’s Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, “so we’re currently in discussions with Google about … how we can work this through”.
“What we’re saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we’d like you to apply our laws,” Conroy said.
“Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government.”
Google Australia’s head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy’s comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not “helpful or relevant”.
Google has recently threatened to pull out of China, partly due to continuing requests for it to censor material.
“YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can’t give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube,” Flynn said.
“The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.”
Asked for further comment, a Google Australia spokeswoman said that, while the company “won’t comply voluntarily with the broad scope of all RC content”, it would comply with the relevant laws in countries it operates in.
However, if Conroy includes new YouTube regulations in his internet filtering legislation, it is not clear if these would apply to Google since YouTube is hosted overseas.
“They [Google] don’t control the access in Australia – all their equipment that would do this is hosted overseas … and I would find it very hard to believe that the Australian government can in any way force an American company to follow Australian law in America,” Landfeldt said.
“Quite frankly it would really not be workable … every country in the world would come to Google and say this is what you need to do for our country. You would not be able to run the kind of services that Google provides if that would be the case.”
This week the Computer Research and Education Association (CORE) put out a statement on behalf of all Australasian computer science lecturers and professors opposing the government’s internet filtering policy.
They said the filters would only block a fraction of the unwanted material available on the internet, be inapplicable to many of the current methods of online content distribution and create a false sense of security for parents.
CORE said the blacklist could be used by current and future governments to restrict freedom of speech, while those determined to get around the filters and access nasty content could do so with ease.
June 18, 2009
by Mike Adams
(NaturalNews) In an effort to censor any online text that might inform consumers of the ability of natural products to protect consumers from H1N1 influenza A, the FDA is now sending out a round of warning letters, threatening to “take enforcement action… such as seizure or injunction for violations of the FFDC Act without further notice.”
“Firms that fail to take correction action,” the FDA warns, “may also be referred to the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations for possible criminal prosecution for violations of the FFDC Act and other federal laws.”
The message is crystal clear: No product may be described as protecting against or preventing H1N1 infections unless it is approved by the FDA. And which products has the FDA approved? Tamiflu (the anti-viral drug that most people will never have access to), and soon the new H1N1 vaccine that’s being manufactured at a cost of one billion dollars (paid to Big Pharma by the taxpayers). This vaccine, of course, will be utterly useless because H1N1 will undoubtedly mutate between now and the time the vaccine is ready, rendering the vaccine useless.
In other words, according to the tyrants at the FDA, the only products that may be marketed alongside the term “H1N1″ are those products that either don’t work or aren’t available to most people. Anything that really works to prevent influenza infections — such as natural anti-virals, medicinal herbs, etc. — is banned from even mentioning H1N1 without the threat of being criminally prosecuted.
Such are the operations of our U.S. Food and Drug Administration — a criminal organization that’s working hard to do what every criminal organization does: Eliminate the competition!As the defender of Big Pharma, the FDA is also the destroyer of knowledge that seeks to remove educational statements from the internet. Truth has nothing to do with it — it is verifiably true that anti-viral herbs, probiotics and other natural products help protect consumers from influenza — but the FDA cannot allow such statements to remain online for the simple fact that people might become informed. And that, it seems, would be a dangerous precedent.
If people were informed about the healing and protective powers of herbs, they would no longer remain enslaved by the medical establishment. Profits would be lost. Power would evaporate. This is why people can never be allowed to attain any real knowledge about herbs, superfoods or nutritional supplements. And the FDA will threaten people with imprisonment just to make sure they don’t dare publish knowledge that the FDA does not want the people to see.
Targeted by the FDA
Who is being attacked and threatened by the FDA? Lots of companies offering highly-effective natural remedies.
Byron Richards’ company Wellness Resources, a favorite target of the FDA (no doubt because Richards wrote a book attacking the FDA), is also targeted in this censorshipcampaign.
The FDA sends similar letters to other companies, invoking terrorizing language designed to scare companies into self-censorship. This is the FDA’s key strategy, and it largely works: Most companies are scared to death to take a stand against the FDA because the ones that do end up being shut down, with their owners arrested at gunpoint and thrown in prison.
This is how natural medicine advocates are treated in the United States of America, the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” (It is really the land of the enslaved and the home of the cowards who don’t even have the courage to protest in the streets anymore…)
This is how the FDA secretly intimidates the natural products industry: It sends threatening letters to anyone who dares tell the truth about a natural product they sell. While pharmaceuticals can openly and brazenly lie about their supposed benefits, natural product companies aren’t even allowed to state obvious truths about their products! (Like “Vitamin C helps prevent colds” or “Omega-3 oils improve moods.”)
Note, carefully, that the FDA openly brands the people promoting natural anti-viral products as “criminals.” The language from the FDA’s own website says it is listing “Web sites that are illegally marketing unapproved, uncleared, or unauthorized products in relation to the 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus.”
In reality, this FDA list is a really good list of highly effective natural products that can protect you from Swine Flu. Many of the companies on the list, in fact, offer products that are far more effective than any vaccine or Big Pharma anti-viral drug. And that, by the way, is precisely why the FDA must accuse these companies of being criminals: Products that effectively compete with Big Pharma’s drugs simply cannot be allowed to exist in the marketplace!
This is all about destroying the competition, limiting consumer options and censoring truthful health information on the internet.
And it’s all paid for by your tax dollars, by the way. This is a government operation taking place under the Obama Administration, which apparently continues in the Bush Administration’s footsteps when it comes to destroying the natural products industry and leaving consumers helpless in the next great pandemic.