marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Updated 1-26-17 to make accessible for imageless proxies and to remove two instances of one search term.


Last week's post on this topic could start a new series: Lies, Inaccuracies and Fake News In Google's Search Results. It's important to bring misleading search results to light (and report them to Google, and signal-boost them to others) because for many people Google is the ultimate "decider" (thanks, W.) of what's true and what's not.

All examples in this post deal with "above-the-fold" results because Google and I would likely agree those are the results everyone sees, while most people, unless they're on a specific info hunt, might scroll no further.

Last week's post was inspired by a search I did on The Clinton Foundation, after it was reported by right-wing media that it was shutting down. The Clinton Global Initiative, an arm of the Clinton Foundation that raises some, but not all of the, money for the Clinton Foundation, is actually the only entity closing. This week's post includes basic variants on the original query [clinton foundation].

Last week's post placed special emphasis on how Google positions misleading and inaccurate results in the Top Stories section, but seeing unsourced and unverifiable stories, sometimes from websites known to be pure fan-fiction pushing a Trump agenda in regular, "organic" results is just as misleading - if not quite as flashy - so also needs to be called out.

My initial candidate from last week's post for Google Search "Fake News" of The Week was for the search term [clinton foundation]. When I posted the results looked like this:

Search term: clinton foundation

In the above picture the top three results pointed to three right-wing websites with the following articles:

  • National Review - The Clinton Initiative's Ignominious End
  • Fox News: - Clinton Global Initiative to Lay Off Employees, Shut Down Amid Dwindling...
  • NewsBusters - Silence From Networks As Clinton Global Initiative Shuts Down

Now, they look like this:

Search term: clinton foundation
  • Clinton Foundation - https://www.clintonfoundation.org/
  • Clinton Foundation (@ClintonFdn) · Twitter : - https://twitter.com/ClintonFdn

So, that's better, right? That's also not even what it looks like anymore (which I noticed while editing this entry about a day and a half later).

The following searches show Google enabling right-wing websites to broadly distribute highly opinionated, often unsourced stories and outright fake news whenever a) an information vacuum exists, however briefly, on the left or amongst more authoritative sources, and/or b) when SEO tricks and other website "signals" are properly implemented by website owners, both of which seem to trigger Google's, "Hey, let's promote this piece!" algorithm, which bounces even the fakest news by the most scurrilous websites into the more highly coveted "above the fold" positions.

Search term: "clinton foundation closing down"

On 1-20-17...

Search term: clinton foundation closing down, 1-20-2017
  • The Political Insider - BREAKING NEWS: Clinton Foundation To Shut Down?!?!

On 1-22-17...

Search term: clinton foundation closing down, 1-22-2017
  • The Political Insider - BREAKING NEWS: Clinton Foundation To Shut Down?!?!
  • Silver Doctors - Reports: Clinton Foundation Is Closing Down!

Political Insider comes in at the second slot; Silver Doctors comes in at #3.

Media Bias/Fact Check reports Political Insider as having a strong conservative bias that's "unreliable for facts and sometimes publishes right wing conspiracy theories." MainSleaze, a spam reporting agency, says the site appears to be produced by a marketing firm in Alexandria, Virginia. Fake News Checker doesn't seem too happy, either.

Silver Doctors is a "Gold, Silver, & Finance News" website (in other words, a site that has nothing to do with politics or political reporting) that took their Google-promoted post - in possible violation of copyright laws - from "PM Fund Manager Dave Kranzler", who originally wrote it for the website Investment Research Dynamics.

Search term: "clinton foundation shutting down"

I didn't perform this search on 1-20, but on 1-22-17...

Search term: clinton foundation shutting down, 1-22-2017
  • Silver Doctors - Reports: Clinton Foundation Is Closing Down!

Silver Doctors comes rolling in again, this time at #3.

Search term: "clinton foundation shutting doors"

On 1-20-17...

Search term: clinton foundation shutting doors, 1-20-2017
  • Conservative Daily Post - Clinton Foundation Closing Unexpectedly, Hillary And Bill...

On 1-22-17...

Search term: clinton foundation shutting doors, 1-22-2017
  • USA Politics Today - Clinton Foundation Is Closing Its Doors For Good!
  • Conservative Daily Post - Clinton Foundation Closing Unexpectedly, Hillary And Bill...

USA Politics Today comes in at #1 on the second search; just days earlier it wasn't in above-the-fold results, but Conservative Daily Post shows at #4 for both searches.

And wooh-eee, does this get fun: USA Politics Today is run by someone in a high position of publicly recognized authority, which you can easily discern by their name: admin. There's almost no information on them except a page on Media Bias/Fact Check, which calls them a right-wing propaganda mill which advocates for "the destruction of all liberals". Niiiice!

Conservative Daily Post is a fan-fiction website that [livejournal.com profile] mickeym first exposed in the things you find on Craigslist..., and I've written about it, as well. In CDP's first help-wanted ad, they sought conservative "fan-fiction writers". In a later ad broadcast by Wonkette, they ruled out anyone who doesn't "LOVE Trump".

Search term: "clinton foundation shuttered"

On 1-20-17...

Search term: clinton foundation shuttered, 1-20-2017
  • Drudge Retort - Clinton Foundation Shuttered

On 1-23-17...

Search term: clinton foundation shuttered, 1-23-2017
  • Drudge Retort - Clinton Foundation Shuttered

Aaaand the Drudge Report Retort (...the fuck?) slides in at #3. The most famous online right-wing media source besides Fox News claims the Clinton Foundation was "shuttered". To judge by TDR's high placement in results for "clinton foundation shuttered", it doesn't matter that even this outfit is flat-out lying.

Search term: "clinton foundation closing"

On 1-20-17...

Search term: clinton foundation closing, 1-20-2017
  • Investor's Business Daily - The Clinton Foundation Is Dead -- But The Case Against Hillary I...

Investor's Business Daily shot to #1 on my initial search.

Investor's Business Daily exists in name only as the mere digital shadow of a print-only publication that actually went defunct in March of 2016. No mention of becoming a right-wing political source was added to any public comments on the matter. The site skews heavily right-wing and has no About page.

on 1-22-17...

Search term: clinton foundation closing, 1-22-2017
  • Silver Doctors - Reports: Clinton Foundation Is Closing Down!

This is a prized search query to land in Top Stories for, which Investor's Business Daily actually did, in the box (what Google calls "the card") furthest left. Two days later Google shuffled the Top Stories cards on this query into a vertical stack, killed Investor's Business Daily, and pushed the possible copyright violator Silver Doctors into the #2 spot.

Search term: "clinton foundation going out of business"

I didn't perform this search on 1-20, but on 1-22-17...

Search term: clinton foundation going out of business, 1-22-2017
  • Silver Doctors - Reports: Clinton Foundation Is Closing Down!
  • Conservative Daily Post - Clinton Foundation Closing Unexpectedly, Hillary And Bill...

Silver Doctors, again! They're in the #2 spot, with our fan-fiction-writing friends at the Conservative Daily Post right behind. How cozy they look together.

Search term: "clinton foundation lights out"

On 1-20-17...

Search term: clinton foundation lights out, 1-20-2017

On 1-22-17...

  • The Political Insider - The Clinton Foundation is Finished! BREAKING NEWS
Search term: clinton foundation lights out, 1-22-2017
  • The Political Insider - The Clinton Foundation is Finished! BREAKING NEWS

Political Insider prances in at #1 on both days I checked.

Search term: "fact check clinton foundation closes"

On 1-20-17...

Search term: fact check clinton foundation closes, 1-20-2017
  • Breitbart - Facebook Fact-Checker PolitiFact Funded by Clinton Foundation Donor
  • Breitbart - Fact-Check: No, the Clinton Foundation Did Not Spend 'Ninety Percent ...

On 1-22-17...

Search term: fact check clinton foundation closes, 1-22-2017
  • Breitbart - Facebook Fact-Checker PolitiFact Funded by Clinton Foundation Donor

Breitbart, a right-wing, white supremacist, xenophobic, LGBTQIA and woman hating opinion outfit dominated both the #1 and #2 spots just two days ago. Impressive. Now just one story of theirs lands in the #4 slot. Forgive me if I'm starting to sound like Casey Kasem, only instead of counting down Top 20 songs, I'm counting down the Top 4 con jobs.

Search term: "clinton foundation closing doors"

On 1-20-17...

Search term: clinton foundation closing doors, 1-20-2017
  • USA Politics Today - Clinton Foundation Is Closing Its Doors For Good!
  • Conservative Daily Post - Clinton Foundation Closing Unexpectedly, Hillary And Bill...

On 1-22-17...

Search term: clinton foundation closing doors, 1-22-2017
  • Silver Doctors - Reports: Clinton Foundation Is Closing Down!

On 1-20, the fakest of fake news sites - USA Politics Today and Conservative Daily Post - are rocking our fan-fiction world in the #1 and #2 slots. Two days later both sites are gone, poof!, but the Silver Doctors are back, this time at #2.

Search terms: "clinton foundation out of business"

On 1-20-17...

Search terms: clinton foundation out of business, 1-20-2017
  • The Political Insider - The Clinton Foundation is Finished! BREAKING NEWS

On 1-23-17...

Search terms: clinton foundation out of business, 1-23-2017
  • The Political Insider - The Clinton Foundation is Finished! BREAKING NEWS

We wrap up with The Political Insider at #1 yelling about how "The Clinton Foundation is FINISHED! BREAKING NEWS" when seeking facts on whether The Clinton Foundation is gone or not. Apparently a site that pushes "right wing conspiracy theories" and has a low fact-check score is still good enough for the best slot Google has to offer.

Here's a Snopes to ease your worried mind.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Or, how to hack search results from the comfort of your mom's basement

Since learning Jews are maligned and misrepresented in Google's search results thanks to white supremacists' SEO manipulations which pushes hate speech above facts, I've grown resigned to how this search company in particular, which is owned and run by Jews, lets any hate group, including those that specifically hate them, hack their search results just to make money.

Was this how Germany fell? Jewish newspapers letting their pages fill with hate speech about themselves because, "Wow, this sort of speech sells more papers than ever before, you SEE that guys?"? Was it?

Selling yourselves and your own people out just to make money is fine until the haters who hate you, whom you made this money off of so indifferently, seize it along with your lives, which is exactly how Nazi Germany turned out. A bit chilling? Sure. But hey, it's all fun and games until no one but the haters can laugh about it anymore, amirite?

In that spirit - one of pre-ackowledging defeat not at the hands of the enemy, but thanks to the indifference of some powerful and influential members of the very group of people in most compelling need of defense - I've kept a jaded but watchful eye over the racial, religious and political slant of Google's results.

While I've seen many instances of right-wing slant, there have usually been enough left-wing or simply neutral websites (such as factcheck.org and/or snopes.com) mixed in to keep me from speaking out. So I waited for a more egregious and flagrant violation of both my intelligence and common sense. And I finally got it.

Background: last night; myself and another person discussing politics. Opening salvo: the other person asked what I thought of the Clinton Foundation shutting down. My response: silent open-mouthed disbelief, then one word: "WHAT???"

So began my Google search to learn the truth. Here's how it went.

Google lets SEO experts employed by right-wing websites hack their search results - a picture of Google's search results for [clinton foundation] being hacked by SEO experts]

In the above picture the top three results - framed and centered across the top of the page in big, gorgeous, drop-shadowed lightboxes with splashy pictures included for each website in question - point to three right-wing websites with the following articles:

  • National Review - The Clinton Initiative's Ignominious End
  • Fox News: - Clinton Global Initiative to Lay Off Employees, Shut Down Amid Dwindling...
  • NewsBusters - Silence From Networks As Clinton Global Initiative Shuts Down

But wait, I thought the person I was speaking with said "Clinton Foundation". Yes, he said "Clinton Foundation"; I'm quite sure of it. Maybe Google's having an algorithmic brain fart of some sort, giving results for Clinton Global Initiative instead of Clinton Foundation. So I tried again, using [Clinton Global Initiative] this time as my search query.

Google lets SEO experts employed by right-wing websites hack their search results - a picture of Google's search results for [clinton global initiative] after being hacked by SEO experts]

In the above picture the top three results - drop-shadowed lightboxes with splashy pictures included for each website in question - point again to two of the same three right-wing websites, and one other besides, running the following articles:

  • National Review - The Clinton Initiative's Ignominious End
  • Breitbart: - Peter Schweizer: Clinton Global Initiative Folded Because They Can N...
  • NewsBusters - Silence From Networks As Clinton Global Initiative Shuts Down

Well, given these titles at the top of the fold in search results, it certainly looks like the person I was speaking with was right; the Clinton Foundation has indeed shut down.

At a loss for what to think, I scrolled down the page to the so-called "organic" results, but those were just a strange mixture of the same right-wing websites and a few more, besides, with similar titles on their articles, along with some links to the Clinton Foundation and a Wikipedia page.

Not really wanting to, still I scrolled back up and decided to click on the Fox News article, considering them the father of, but still the lesser of most online evil you'll see around distorted news these days. Well!

From the article (archived version, in case they rewrite, move or delete it):

The Clintons are moving ahead with plans to downsize their controversial foundation’s network of offshoots, a decision carried out as the powerful family’s political influence wanes and its once-lengthy donor list shrinks.

Wait, "downsize"? I looked again at the article title: Clinton Global Initiative to Lay Off Employees, Shut Down Amid Dwindling.... The title says "shut down", but the first sentence says "downsize". So this already looks misleading. But hey, let's give it a chance; maybe the "shutting down" part is further down the page, "below the fold".

In a decision announced last week, 22 additional employees are being laid off from the Clinton Global Initiative – known for its annual glitzy gathering of high-powered leaders and celebs. The layoffs are tied to a decision to shutter CGI that originally was announced in an Aug. 22 letter from former President Bill Clinton.

Here we have a big problem: "22 additional employees". Additional? How many - if any - were laid off in the past?

At the time, the Clintons were under pressure to explain how they would handle potential conflicts of interest with their namesake foundation if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were to win the White House.

OK, unlinked and unsourced, but probably considered (disputed) common knowledge.

Bill Clinton wrote in his letter at the time: “Nine years ago in my book ‘Giving,’ I wrote, ‘I want to continue these meetings for at least a decade, with the objective of creating a global network of citizen activists who reach across the divides of our interdependent world to build real communities of shared opportunities, shared responsibilities, and a genuine sense of belonging.’ ... That is exactly what CGI, its members, and its dedicated staff have done.”

OK, but Bill Clinton does not, in that specific quote, say that the Clinton Foundation is about to "shut down". Does he?

Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump -- but the family is proceeding anyway with its CGI plans, and those “dedicated staff” are getting the ax.

The 22 staffers are part of a wave of layoffs.

The last sentence appears to be, at best, an unsubstantiated rumor.

Syracuse.com reported on Oct. 4 about a WARN notice announcing 74 employees would be laid off. Another notice was issued on Jan. 12 stating 22 more employees would be let go. WARN is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires employers to give 60-days advance notice of business closings.

The Syracuse.com article isn't linked to; because it's not, there's no way to verify what Fox News claims they've reported. So I right-clicked and googled the first half of the sentence about the WARN notice, which is where this gets a bit interesting. The Syracuse.com article says, and I quote:

The Clinton Foundation will lay off 74 employees at its Clinton Global Initiative office in New York City at the end of the year, according to a notice filed with the state.

The notice, required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), said the 74 employees at the initiative's offices on the 42nd floor at 1271 Avenue of the Americas will be laid off on Dec. 31.

But the link to the WARN notice gives this message: This is an invalid WARN Notice ID. So there is no valid WARN Notice that Syracuse.com has linked to to prove their claim.

While I won't speculate if Syracuse.com created a false WARN number just to lie about what the Clinton Foundation is up to, it's quite possible. Getting back to the Fox News article, it goes on to say:

Under the form’s “Reason for Dislocation” section, a staffer wrote: “Discontinutation (sic) of the Clinton Global Initative (sic).”

Yep, sure they did.

The “layoff date” is set for April 15.

It’s unclear how many employees will be left at CGI after the latest round of layoffs, or if any of those workers will be shifted to other Clinton projects. A spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation declined to comment on the record for this story.

Again, the article's title is: Clinton Global Initiative to Lay Off Employees, Shut Down Amid Dwindling.... It says "shut down". Yet this far in we're still discussing 22 layoffs - in addition to 74 previous layoffs that supposedly occurred on Dec. 31st - and linking to another website which offers only an "invalid WARN Notice number" on yet another website as "proof".

Oh, and a Clinton spokesperson declined comment, so let's report this as the total annihilation of the Clinton Foundation, because they did. Moving on to the rest of the article to find any shred of linkage between this 22-person layoff and the Foundation going *poof*:

CGI, which began in 2005, is not a direct-action charity like the Clinton Foundation, but instead brings power players together to address “significant global challenges” through their own commitments to action.

While Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects were quashed mere months after Bill Clinton penned his August letter, other factors may have contributed to CGI’s ending despite the disappearance of looming conflict-of-interest issues.

OK, so now we learn that "CGI" (the Clinton Global Initiative, which Fox News cleverly disguises behind an acronym to make it seem like it's the same - or just another arm of - the Clinton Foundation) is in fact a separate entity, and that "other factors may have contributed". These are "weasel words", strung together to seemingly substantiate a claim without presenting any facts.

Here we go with the speculation, unlinked sources and unsubstantiated rumors again (seen behind the cut, from the front page):

Here lies the body of the Clinton Foundation - wait...nope, 'fraid not )

I quote the entire article to prove that not once did it explain Fox News's use of the title, which was, again: Clinton Global Initiative to Lay Off Employees, Shut Down Amid Dwindling... It says "shut down". But there's no proof of any shutdown linked to or spoken of, nor offered in any way, shape or form. Nothing.

Google allows - and expects - the entire Internet to believe the Clinton Foundation has already shut down, even returning results for the Clinton Global Initiative shutting down (which is in itself an unsubstantiated claim) when one merely searches for the "Clinton Foundation". "Desire to broadcast the actual truth 404, that's all we know!" And they don't care if that's all you know, either.

Not only do they not care what you believe, they're actively working against your ability to even know what to believe by highlighting lies, distortions, and twisted facts in their big, beautiful, fully photo-enhanced lightboxes along the very top of their results. If that's not caring, then I don't know what is.

Who's actually said (or even suggested) the entire Clinton Foundation - including the Clinton Global Initiative - is shutting down? So far, just some right-wing websites. Not any WARN Notice, not Bill Clinton in his above-quoted letter, not Hillary Clinton at any point in time, not any spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation, nor any unnamed source speaking for the Clinton Foundation.

But if right-wing sources say it (or merely suggest it, or enhance their search engine "signals" to "prove it" by showing up in Google's top results) then it must be true, so let's take their word - rumors, unsourced speculation, and invalid WARN Notice numbers included. Google takes their word, and expects you to do so, too! Google returns almost nothing but their articles in search results, which are all some flavor of the same words - SHUTTING DOWN - up in those big, fancy boxes, so it must be true, right?

Most people won't question that. They'll say, yes, you're right, it must be, simply because they trust Google that much.

My over-arching message: if Google won't fact-check what they let SEO experts push into their big fancy lightboxes at the top of results then they need to get out of the search business, because their results are misleading everybody, which is actively harming users while threatening Google's existence through hate speech about the very people who own and run the search engine.

Objectivity draws in audiences and is much more trustable, believable, quotable, and verifiable then left or right wing slant or any form of hate, so why not leave slant and vileness to bloggers, leave bloggers out of the results, and start either holding news organizations accountable via search placement and ranking penalties, or else start fact-checking search results before pushing them out to users?

Or does Google really want to restrict their entire US search business to the SEO-enabled right wingers and white supremacists? If they won't change their results to more accurately reflect reality, that's the only audience they'll have left.