Google Misinforms US on COVID-19

COVID-19 on CDC

On January 31, President Trump ordered Suspension and Limitation on Entry of travelers from China to prevent transmission of COVID-19 (2019-nCoV). After that, Google manually fixed search results to direct users to the website of UN World Health Organization (WHO) which opposed traffic restrictions at that time:

WHO advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this event

Facebook did a similar thing. They announced those manipulations as a fight against misinformation. This is more lethal than Google’s old COVFEFE trick. On the other hand, Big Tech has not incited riots, as they did in response to the travel ban three years earlier.

WHO repeated its objections to travel restrictions on January 30 and maintained them until February 11, when it acknowledged that “[travel] measures may have a public health rationale at the beginning of the containment phase of an outbreak.” Silicon Valley and MSM interfered with US government communication and spread the UN misinformation.

Google advertises itself search as attempting to provide the most useful, helpful, and authoritative results for the user. As of 2020-02-17, Google search for coronavirus returns results from WHO, rather than from the federal Center for Decease Control, which provides competent advise and live updates, as one expects in Texas, USA.

The following tests have been done using a browser in a clean configuration each time.

2020-02-16 screenshot x2. The COVID-19 SOS Alert has no link, but allows sharing.

Google coronavirus screenshots

Next day, 2020-02-17, Google returns even more bizarre results with a “fact check” from infamous Snopes:

Google screenshot with Snopes

The Google “fact check article” box doesn’t say that the claim in the blue link is false. Some people seeing it might believe they are immune to the COVID-19 virus. They are not.

Snopes claims it has found this false assertion about COVID-19 on a certain obscure website. But I would not be surprised if Snopes’ employees or their acquaintances have invented and disseminated it.

In 2017, I documented a similar case. A climate alarmist mouthpiece fabricated and disseminated a fake picture of a Time cover from 1970s. Snopes used that fake picture to “debunk” a true statement that there were global cooling concerns in 1970s.

Google rewards Snopes’ lies with high placement in its search results, as in this case. Snopes monetizes traffic to its website via ads, subscriptions, and donations. All the incentives are aligned to reward sensationalism.

Google said:

Only publishers that are algorithmically determined to be an authoritative source of information will qualify for inclusion. Finally, the content must adhere to … the Google News Publisher criteria for fact checks, and the standards for accountability and transparency…

I understand that Google can easily implement algorithm that determines that Snopes is an authoritative source, but Fox News is not. But the common understanding of algorithmically determined is different, and a jury of common persons would likely conclude that Google has lied in marketing its search engine.

Google YouTube

YouTube also hides the CDC coronavirus information and re-directs viewers to WHO. The following two screenshots are results of YouTube search for cdc coronavirus (in this and other YouTube searches here: no quotes, not logged in, no browser or YouTube history, cache, or cookies; Eastern Texas, March 6, 2020). One would expect to find authoritative CDC videos among the top results. But no, YouTube places a link to a useless WHO page. It is followed by clips from the Global News (Toronto, Canada), CNN, and other fake news sources

YouTube 'cdc coronavirus' search screenshot

YouTube 'cdc coronavirus' search screenshot 2

 

There is a CDC channel on YouTube. Some of its videos have footnotes pointing to the WHO website, falsely promising that the viewer can get the latest information about coronavirus there.

YouTube fact checks CDC doctor

 

The same treatment receives this Fox News interview with the US Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams

YouTube fact checks US Surgeon General

Google considers itself a branch of a global governance, or something like this, not an American company. It refuses to recognize that the US government is vastly more knowledgeable  than UN bodies in the health care, and provides specific advice and information that are more relevant.

Originally published on February 17, 2020. Last updated on March 5.

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