Should search engines be blamed for the conflicts on the internet?

  1. Every day there are millions of people that use search engines such as google and yahoo. Each person utilizes search engines daily to find answers to questions, do research, listen to music, look for movies, and to find all sorts of entertainment. There is no doubt that search engines are considered to be a major part of the history of communication media and information management. Also, there is no doubt that the business behind each search engine is owned and controlled by very specific people. Also, certain groups significantly benefit from search engines’ transformative effects in political-economic, and social norms. Moreover, lately, the demand for social platforms to apply censorship protocols toward hate speech and illegal speech has been rising significantly. This blog aims to explain the origin of search engines, the roles of search engines in historical trends, who owns the main business behind search engines, and finally which groups benefit from the transformative effects of search engines and which groups do not. Moreover, this blog also aims to explain the obligations of social platforms to apply censorship to hate speech and other illegal speeches and whether these obligations should be applied in the Australian context or not.

Search engines are programs that surf through the web to find out information based on keywords inserted in search queries (WordStream 2020). Search engines function by using trillions of algorithms that are interconnected to each other (WordStream 2020). The main role of this huge number of algorithms is to provide the most possible accurate result based on any keywords users may use to surf the web. The first-ever designed search engine was Archie which was made public in 1990 as the first-ever search engine to exist on the internet (WordStream 2020). Archie was a search engine that relied on several hundreds of algorithms, meaning it was not as powerful as the search engines we utilize today. According to WordStream,2020, in 1998, Google was officially launched and it proved to be the easiest and the best search engine that could be utilized by people to find all sorts of information thanks to the multimillion and infinitely expanding algorithms that keep infiltrating and interconnecting preexisting algorithms.

 

http://Google search engine homepage

back when Google as part of stanford.edu (WordStream 2020)

 

Search engines have a very important role in deciding the direction of any trend in communication media or information management. Search engines utilize a property called “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization” (WordStream 2020). SEO is the method used by any platform to present itself on the first page of any search engine’s first page results. Understanding how SEO works helps in promoting any media found on the internet (WordStream 2020). This is very crucial in information management. Massive search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing use what is called a “web crawler” to surf through the world wide web (WordStream 2020). Again, this is crucial in determining information management. Web crawlers and SEO work together to manage information as perfectly as possible. Thanks to these tools, people always find exactly what they look for regardless if they inserted wrong search terms or insufficient keywords. In other words, web crawlers and SEO help massively in information management (WordStream 2020).

According to Buganza and Della Valle, 2010, each different search engine is controlled by a huge industry that specialized in information technology. Each of these industries could be private industries that independent from any governmental links or ties or be linked heavily to the national government. In a specific industry, there are hundreds of employees and managers that have full control over search engines (Buganza and Della Valle 2010). These employees work hard to perform continuous maintenance to their servers to prevent any crashes that may happen due to massive traffic loads. Besides, industries have their own highly qualified security teams that specialize in maintaining the security of their search engine servers and preventing them from getting hacked. This would subsequently prevent hackers from gaining access to sensitive information that is stored in their servers and ensure a safe, efficient, reliable, and fast surfing experience by users (Buganza and Della Valle 2010).

According to Buganza and Della Valle, 2010, businesses that profit mainly on SEO and search engines are the most common groups that benefit from the search engine’s transformative effects. Those businesses that are very flexible always make sure that they benefit the most from all any transformative effect that occurs. On the other hand, businesses that are not suitable to adapt to new changes and still rely on specific SEO techniques, always get smashed hard by any transformative effect that would occur by any changes of political economics and social terms (Buganza and Della Valle 2010).

 

Over the past years, there has been a rising and continuous demand for social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to apply specific censorship protocols that would delete hate speech and illegal speech. According to Laub, 2019, over the last couple of years, there has been an increase in global violence toward different subgroups and minorities of society. In all cases in which violence has been linked to hate speech on social media, violence took the shape of mass shootings, lynchings, and ethnic cleansing. This suggests that it makes plenty of sense to restrict hate speech on social media. However, when restricting hate speech, freedom of speech is also restricted. Therefore, policies that restrict hate speech are generally inconsistently enforced because they limit freedom of speech (Laub, 2019). To support the importance of restricting hate speech, Laub, 2019, explains that some different studies and analyses were conducted by scientists to discover if there is a correlation between hate speech and violence. The result of these analyses suggests a positive correlation between hate speech on social media and violence (Laub, 2019). For example, it was found that there is a correlation between anti-refugee Facebook posts that are managed by far-right groups and attacks on refugees in Germany. Besides, “perpetrators of recent white supremacist attacks have circulated among racist communities online and also embraced social media to publicize their acts” (Laub, 2019). Also, a murderer of nine black clergy and worshippers in 2015 has explained that he went through evolution through self-learning by online posts which made him understand the value of violence to achieve the goals of white supremacy (Laub, 2019). Unfortunately, the examples are so many to count and illustrate however, they all circulate the same one principle, hate speech on social media ignites hatred which subsequently results in violent actions to take place. Therefore, it is important to redefine the concept of freedom of speech because human lives are being massively impacted by practicing hate speech under the radar of freedom of speech.

 

When it comes to Australia, there are so many small groups that form a huge, massive, and diverse Australian society. Therefore, protecting these minorities on the internet and social media platform is extremely crucial to reduce the risk of any violence that could be practiced against them. Even if enforcing policies that would censor hate speech would restrict freedom of speech, it should be enforced never the less. African people, LGBT people, Asians, theists, and atheists, and all other social groups must feel secure instead of fearing any violent acts that would happen due to Facebook posts that implement hatred among people. No matter how we think about it, this is unacceptable. Therefore, even if it was true that restricting hate speech restricts freedom of speech, it should be enforced nevertheless because people’s lives and security are more important than practicing all dark forms of freedom of speech.

 

 

References

Laub, Z.  (2019). Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/hate-speech-social-media-global-comparisons

 

Stefano Ceri, & Brambilla, M. (2010). Search computing: challenges and directions. Springer. 45-71

 

The History of Search Engines – A Timeline. (2020). Www.Wordstream.Com. https://www.wordstream.com/articles/internet-search-engines-history#:~:text=Search%20engine%20history%20all%20started