Google Shifts Perception and Behavior Without Your Knowledge
The objection against Google data collection through their Analytics program is the opportunity it gives the behemoth to collect your personal data and use artificial intelligence to make decisions about your actions. This then leads to greater manipulation of your opinions and behaviors.
Robert Epstein is a Harvard-trained psychologist whom I interviewed in early 2020. For the last decade he has helped expose the manipulative and deceptive practices Google uses against you. Through his research that began in 2013, he discovered that biased search results can influence public opinion and sway undecided voters.
These biased search results are produced by recognizing your previous behavior online and gently swaying your opinion. Epstein found that the strength of that influence was shocking and that Google can block website access on browsers other than their own. These findings were published in U.S. News & World Report in 2016. The power the search engine pose threatens society in three specific ways, which Epstein discussed during our interview:
1. Google is a surveillance agency with significant powers which are spread across its properties including Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube and Google Wallet.
2. Google can restrict or block (censor) access to websites across the internet. They can even block access to entire countries or the internet as a whole. The most significant issue with this type of censorship is that you don’t know what you don’t know. When information is removed from search engines, you don’t know it exists and you don’t go looking for it elsewhere.
3. The company has the power to manipulate public opinion by presenting specific content to the user and through search ranking. Epstein explains:
“To me, that’s the scariest area because as it turns out that Google is shaping the opinions and the thinking and the beliefs and the attitudes and the purchases and the votes of billions of people around the world without anyone knowing that they’re doing so … without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace.
They’re using new techniques of manipulation that have never existed before in human history and they are for the most part, subliminal … I’ve stumbled onto a whole set of techniques that Google has developed that work extremely well … these are invisible effects, so they’re subliminal in that sense, but they don’t produce tiny shifts.
They produce enormous shifts in people’s thinking, very rapidly. Some of the techniques I’ve discovered are among the largest behavioral effects ever discovered in the behavioral sciences.”
How Google Can Influence Elections and Society
During the interview, Epstein described his controlled, randomized, double-blind and counterbalanced experiments that revealed the number of ways that Google can shift public perception. The first effect he discovered was something called search engine manipulation effect (SEME). The aim of the experiment was to see if results biased toward a particular political candidate could shift a user’s opinions and leanings.
He predicted a voting shift preference of 2% to 3%. What he got was a shift of 48%, which he initially thought was an error. In the early experiments, they used undecided voters from the U.S. and a real election for the prime minister of Australia in 2010. In other words, they used real candidates with a real election and real search results.
During a second experiment, they found a 63% shift in voter preference when they hid the bias in the search results. A large-scale investigation showed the few who noticed the bias in their search results were not protected from the effect. In fact, it shifted them further toward the bias rather than away from it.
In the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, he engaged 95 field agents whose identities they kept secret and equipped them with passive software that allowed them to look over the shoulders of people as they did election-related searches. They found there was pro-Clinton bias in the top 10 search positions on the first page of Google, but not on Bing or Yahoo.
This showed a significant pro-Clinton bias on Google. From this data, he was able to calculate how many votes could have been shifted with that level of bias by using data collected since 2013. At a bare minimum, he believes 2.6 million undecided voters could have been shifted to Hillary Clinton and as many as 10.4 million possible on the high end.
Google Surveillance Helps Feed China’s Social Credit System
Google surveillance information goes beyond manipulating your behavior through searches to supporting social credit systems being developed around the world. China’s social credit system has been in effect since 2018. The system awards and subtracts points for certain types of behavior in their citizens. This video shows only a small extent to which this social system controls the lives of citizens in China.
The small part shown in the video is extensive. The process was conceived in 2014 and rolled out in 2018. By 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, China’s established digital infrastructure could track and trace its citizens as it related to their health status, social media posting, contributions to charities, volunteer actions, shopping patterns, decisions and more.
Like your credit score, a person’s social credit score can go up and down. It is integral to your ability to do anything in public, including buying groceries, riding on public transportation or going to public events. Bad behavior can also be punished by slowing your internet speed, banning your children from certain schools or getting higher education, or being barred from certain types of employment.
Central to the process is public shaming. According to a report in Blaze Media as the social credit system was rolled out, “China says that it is trying to “purify” society by rewarding the trustworthy and punishing those it deems as untrustworthy.”
The actions against citizens through the social credit score system are based on surveillance data that Google makes accessible to countries interested in this kind of Orwellian surveillance scheme. It is the largest monopoly the world has ever seen that siphons data deep into your everyday life and collects data on nearly every move you make and conversation you have.
Your movements can be tracked online, even when you don’t think you’re using their products. Google Analytics program is just one method they use to track everything you do on any website that has their free product installed. Although these services are presented to users as free, they are actually a tightly integrated package of surveillance tools and Google is making money by selling your data and serving you ads to manipulate and direct your behavior.
A 2015 Wired article revealed some of the details of how Google’s online empire is built, noting “One of the company’s cluster switches provides about 40 terabits per second of bandwidth — the equivalent of 40 million home internet connections,” and “Google now sends more information between its data centers than it trades with the internet as a whole.”
Say Goodbye to Google
To make inroads to protect your privacy, you simply must avoid Google products, as they account for the greatest personal data leaks in your life. To protect your privacy, be sure to ditch or replace:
- Gmail — Every email you write is permanently stored. It becomes part of your profile and is used to build a digital model, which allows them to make predictions about your thinking, wants and desires. Many other older email systems such as AOL and Yahoo are also used as surveillance platforms. Swisscows.email is a great alternative and the basic account is free.
- Google’s Chrome browser — Everything you do is surveilled, including keystrokes and web pages visit. Brave is a possible alternative that is faster than Chrome and suppresses ads. It’s based on Chromium, the same software code that Chrome is based on, so you can easily transfer your extensions, favorites and bookmarks.
- Google search engine — This applies to any extension of Google, such as Bing, Yahoo and iPhone’s personal assistant Siri, which draws search results from Google. Alternative search engines include SwissCows. Avoid StartPage, as it was recently bought by an aggressive online marketing company which, like Google, depends on surveillance.
- Android cell phones — These run on a Google-owned operating system, and can track you even when you’re not connected to the internet, whether you have geo-tracking enabled or not.
- Google Home devices — These devices record everything that occurs in your home or office. This includes speech and sounds such as brushing your teeth and boiling water. Even when they appear to be inactive, they are sending information back to Google. Android phones are also always listening and recording, as are Google’s home thermostat Nest and Amazon’s Echo and Alexa.