Google has sparked outrage and accusations of censorship after banning right-wing website ZeroHedge and cautioning The Federalist from its ad platform.
What exactly Google complained to The Federalist over remains murky and it’s unclear if they ever threatened to ban it from the ad platform.
The row began with an NBC report which suggested Google acted after receiving a report from a British think tank that flagged that The Federalist had used a ‘black crime’ tag to categorize content.
It also flagged a story in which a journalist claimed the media was ‘lying’ by reporting that white supremacists were involved in looting. It specifically singled out CNN and the New York Times.
ZeroHedge was flagged by the think tank for claiming the BLM protests sweeping the nation were being funded by Democrat mega-donor George Soros.
A Google spokeswoman was quoted by NBC as saying it had ‘removed both sites’ ability to monetize’.
However later, Google said it had never demonetized The Federalist – which is run by Meghan McCain’s husband – and that it got in touch to address something in the website’s comments section that violated standards.
A spokesman would not give any more details of what the offensive comment was when contacted by DailyMail.com and they refused to say when or why ZeroHedge was demonetized.
Google tweeted that it had told The Federalist to remove the comment section after some content posted there violated its policies, without specifying what the offensive comments were
ZeroHedge accused Google of ‘subverting content with financial penalty’.
Meghan McCain tweeted: ‘Google is now trafficking in digital fascism. How soon until all conservative speech and publications are completely banned?’
The Federalist is run by Meghan McCain’s husband Ben Domenech
Donald Trump Jr. said the company was trying to have it ‘both ways’ by on the one hand seemingly trying to hold The Federalist accountable for comments posted on its site while shirking responsibility for what appears on its own search results page – something that has recently been called into question by the president as tech giants’ way of getting out of being sued.
Their decision to demonetize ZeroHedge is likely to annihilate whatever revenue it made and is the most dramatic step Google has taken in stripping sites of their ability to make money through ads.
The company has in the past been accused of promoting left-wing sites over right-wing counterparts but insists its algorithms are impartial.
The report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate that was given to NBC cited ten websites including Brietbart and The Gateway Pundit, two other well-known conservative websites. Neither of those have been banned.
It flagged two articles by ZeroHedge.
One was said the movement was a ‘George Soros astroturf campaign for leftists and their agenda to reshape the fabric of American society.’
The other said it was ‘practically a revolutionary operative of the CIA via Soros’.
The Federalist’s violations, according to the think tank, were the ‘black crime’ tag, under which stories appeared, and an article alleging the media had lied.
Meghan McCain’s husband runs The Federalist. She tweeted that the company was trafficking ‘in digital fascism’
Donald Trump Jr. piled into the debate, saying big tech ‘wants to have it both ways’
That story, published on June 3, read: ‘Over the weekend we were told, for example, that the looting and violence was being instigated not by left-wing anarchists and antifa groups but by the media’s favorite villains: white supremacists.
‘CNN, whose Atlanta offices were vandalized Friday, went on and on—without a shred of evidence to back it up—about how white supremacists might be infiltrating the protests and stirring up trouble.
‘The New York Times, in a report that even quoted a senior police official in New York City saying outside anarchist groups were coordinating mayhem before the protests began, nevertheless veered into a long aside about how far-right “accelerationists” were hoping the unrest would bring about a long-sought second civil war.
‘By Monday, no one was talking about the white supremacist agitators anymore. The media had moved on to better, more plausible lies.’
That story remains online but the ‘black crime tag’ has been removed.
NBC suggested that it supplying the report to Google was what prompted Google then contacting The Federalist.
‘We have strict publisher policies that govern the content ads can run on and explicitly prohibit derogatory content that promotes hatred, intolerance, violence or discrimination based on race from monetizing.
NBC gave Google this report by a British think tank that listed 10 websites and claimed they were racist in their coverage of the protests. Google now insists it had nothing to do with the report and was over the comments section, despite a spokesman earlier saying the site had been defunded
‘When a page or site violates our policies, we take action. In this case, we’ve removed both sites’ ability to monetize with Google,’ a spokeswoman said.
But the company later tweeted: ‘The Federalist was never demonetized.
‘We worked with them to address issues on their site related to the comments section.’
Ben Domenech, The Federalist publisher and McCain’s husband, declined to comment when approached by DailyMail.com on Tuesday afternoon.
The move is the latest in efforts by tech companies to crack down on content it deems inappropriate that more often than not, comes from conservatives.
A poignant recent example was Twitter censoring President Trump’s tweet about the Minneapolis protests, where he said: ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts.’
The decision prompted Trump to sign an executive order targeting social media giants.
‘A small handful of social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States.
‘They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences,’ he said at the time.