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Masters of the Universe Town Hall Preview: Robert Epstein Asks ‘Who Made Google the Guardian of the Internet?’

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Ahead of Breitbart News’ “Masters of the Universe” town hall tonight, panelist Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, Robert Epstein outlined his reasons for appearing at the event.

Breitbart News asked Epstein how he initially became interested in Google and search engine manipulation, and when he first noticed that there might be issues with how Google manipulates search results. “I’ve had a strong interest in computers and programming most of my life,” said Epstein. “I started getting curious about Google early in 2012 when the company notified me that my website had been hacked. Who, I wondered, had made Google the guardian of the internet, and how on earth was the company blocking access to my website through Safari (an Apple browser) and Firefox (a browser run by a nonprofit company?)  Later that year, when I read about recent studies on the power that search rankings have to influence purchases, I began to wonder about whether search engines could manipulate opinions and votes.”

“I asked:  If people are so strongly attracted to high-ranking search results, could high-ranking results be used to manipulate how people think?  When I began to conduct controlled experiments to investigate this idea, I was completely shocked by the results.  The search engine, I now know, is the most powerful mind control machine ever invented.  See my essay, “The New Mind Control.”

Breitbart News asked Epstein if he felt that media outlets and politicians calling for government regulation of sites such as Facebook to deal with the issue of “fake news” was a wise idea. Epstein stated, “Absolutely not, for three reasons:  First, “fake news” is impossible to define.  Are satires fake news stories?  Are articles that get things mostly right but that make a few mistakes fake?  See my essay, ‘Fake News Is a Fake Problem’.”

Epstein continued, “Second, because the people Facebook uses to screen online content are inherently biased, and because the algorithms Facebook uses to screen online content are inherently biased and stupid — see my essay on “Mindless AI” — Facebook’s filtering efforts amount to little more than a clumsy form of censorship.  See my article in U.S. News & World Report, ‘The New Censorship.'”

“Third, who gave Facebook — a for-profit company that is responsible only to its shareholders, not to the general public — the right to determine what content most of the world will or will not see?”

When asked if Google already manipulates search results to promote their own products ahead of competitors, Epstein stated “Anti-trust investigations by our own Federal Trade Commission, as well as similar investigations in India, the EU, and Russia, have all concluded that Google routinely favors its own products and services over those of its competitors.”

“In 2017, the EU fined Google $2.7 billion for precisely that reason, and Google has now paid that fine.  An online monitoring project run by my team in 2016 also found that Google’s search results systematically favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the months leading up to Election Day — enough to shift millions of votes in her direction without anyone being aware of the manipulation.  Our project was made public by the Washington Post and other news outlets in March 2017.”

Breitbart News asked Epstein if it was possible that Google manipulated search results to favor a specific political party or candidate, and if so how would the public know? Epstein stated “I am now working with prominent business people and academicians on three continents to build a worldwide monitoring system that will make Big Tech companies accountable to the public for the first time.  It will also protect the free and fair election from manipulation by these companies.  We’re basically scaling up the tracking system my team and I developed to monitor the 2016 election.”

“Laws and regulations are inherently sluggish; they will never be able to keep up with the shenanigans of rapidly changing technologies.  The solution is to build a comprehensive monitoring system that will expose bias, censorship, and manipulation as it occurs, providing alerts and evidence to journalists, regulators, election commissions, courts, and other authorities as appropriate.  The best way to fight the technology oligarchs who are rapidly taking over the world is with technology — new systems that will immediately and continuously expose their misdeeds.”

When asked about the continuing surveillance issue of big tech companies on users, Epstein said: “The surveillance business model that Google largely invented and that Facebook and thousands of smaller companies are now using every day should be prohibited by law.”

“Apple, Microsoft, and most other companies sell actual products.  For Google and Facebook, we are the product, and the “free” services they give us are really just gussied-up surveillance tools.  No more.  That business model needs to go.  See my article on how so-called free services threaten our freedom or my article in TIME, ‘Google’s Dance.'”

Epstein will appear alongside conservative commentator Ann Coulter, investigative journalist and Breitbart Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer and Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow at the Masters of the Universe Town Hall event hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana tonight at 7 p.m. central. The event will be livestreamed at Breitbart.com.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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