Technology Companies’ Threat to an Open Society

By: Brianna Cetrulo

Google, today’s largest disseminator of information, has also been defined as a verb meaning, “to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (someone or something) on the World Wide Web.”[1] With the ability to dictate what the world knows and thus thinks, Google currently exists as the most influential company and has undoubtedly become essential to our daily lives. However our country’s blind reliance on this site will lead to the destruction of an open society unless regulations are instituted.

Google is one of the many Internet sites that have been known to participate in censorship.[2] The tech company has continually been found to block access to certain types of information through its use of algorithms or its employees.[3] For example, in 2008 the Christian Institute brought suit after being told by Google that it prohibited advertising from sites containing abortion and religion-related content. [4] When in fact, Google sold advertising to secular groups, doctors and other resource sites advocating abortion. [5] Additionally, YouTube, which is owned by Google, has recently been found to be demonetizing videos with conservative content.[6]

In the aftermath of the horrifying events of Charlottesville, Google and other large tech companies’ power to censor has resurfaced.[7] The right of free speech protected by the First Amendment is a fundamental liberty to which tech companies are not bound.[8] Instead, these powerful entities, lacking any accountability, are utilizing their platforms to enforce ideological conformity. Despite only impacting a group of people who the majority of the country sees as vile, neo-Nazis, this abuse of power is a threat to the First Amendment and an open society.

Some examples of this censorship include how Google and GoDaddy stopped providing hosting support for a website called the Daily Stormer.[9] Airbnb has publicly stated that they will permanently ban white supremacists from using its service to book rooms.[10] Finally, PayPal also maintains that it prohibits white supremacists from using its payment platform.[11] Yet, allowing America’s fear to encourage the restriction of our fundamental right of free speech exasperates the horror of Charlottesville. In order to address tech companies’ current threat to an open society, Google should be regulated.[12]


[1] Google, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/google (last visited Aug. 31, 2017).

[2] Robert Epstein, The New Censorship, U.S. News & World Reports (June 22, 2016, 9:00 AM), https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-22/google-is-the-worlds-biggest-censor-and-its-power-must-be-regulated.

[3]  Id.

[4] Stephanie Clifford, Google in Shift on ‘Abortion’ as Keyword, N. Y. Times (Sept. 21, 2008), http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/22/technology/22google.html.

[5] Id.

[6] Ian Miles Cheong, Conservative And Independent YouTube Channels Hit By Censorship And Demonetization, Daily Caller (Aug. 11, 2017, 4:02 PM),

http://dailycaller.com/2017/08/11/conservative-and-independent-youtube-channels-hit-by-censorship-and-demonetization/.

[7] Kaya Yurieff, Should web-hosting companies restrict who's on their platforms?, CNN Tech (Aug. 14, 2017, 4:51 PM), http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/14/technology/godaddy-daily-stormer/index.html.

[8] Id.

[9] Id. 

[10] Fox News, Airbnb bans white supremacists from using its service after Charlottesville protest, Fox News (Aug. 16, 2017),

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2017/08/16/airbnb-bans-white-supremacists-from-using-its-service-after-charlottesville-protest.html.

[11] Kaya Yurieff, PayPal is quietly cracking down on white-supremacist accounts, CNN (Aug. 16, 2017, 3:21 PM), http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/16/technology/paypal-alt-right-accounts/index.html.

[12] Ryan Grim, Steve Bannon Wants Facebook and Google Regulated like Utilities, The Intercept (July 27, 2017, 12:31 PM), https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-facebook-and-google-regulated-like-utilities/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *