MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Internet giant Google illustrated this week that they are not happy about a proposed piece of federal legislation that, if passed, would allow internet users an unprecedented degree of transparency when it comes to the search engine results they receive.
The Google Customer Solutions Team sent out an email to subscribers on November 23, informing them of the “The Filter Bubble Transparency Act,” a bill the tech company referred to as “controversial,” saying that it could have “unintended consequences” and could “disrupt many of the digital tools you use.”
“In June, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted to advance a controversial package of bills that could disrupt many of the digital tools you use—including Google Ads and Analytics, Gmail and Docs, and your business listing on Google Search and Maps,” the Google email read. “Not only has Google expressed concerns about these bills, but so have leading business organizations…saying the bills would ‘stymie innovation’ and noting that ‘America’s digitally-powered small businesses should be deeply concerned.’”— Google Customer Solutions Team
The Filter Bubble Transparency Act was introduced in June 2021 by Representatives Ken Buck (R-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI), in addition to members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The bill requires internet companies like Google and Facebook to give users the option to opt-out of AI-driven content recommendation systems that determine the order that information is relayed to the user.
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To require that internet platforms give users the option to engage with a platform without being manipulated by algorithms driven by user-specific data.S.2024 — 117th Congress (2021-2022)
John Thune (R-SD), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, said that the bill would allow users more control over the web content they search for, as opposed to having internet companies clandestinely filtering search results to drive millions in advertising revenue or promote certain viewpoints.
“The more transparency consumers have with respect to how social media and other internet platforms prioritize content on their services, the better,” he said. “This legislation helps consumers better understand how algorithms are used to select content in their ‘feed’ and gives users more control over what information they are digesting.”— John Thune (R-SD), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband
It would appear that Google isn’t a fan of the potential repercussions of this legislation; they ominously warned business owners in their email this week that the Filter Bubble Transparency Act would
“Make it harder for customers to find you because your business listing may no longer appear on Google Search and Maps,” “Reduce your digital marketing effectiveness if Google Ads products were disconnected from each other and from Google Analytics,” and “Hurt your productivity if Gmail, Docs, and Calendar were split up and no longer work together seamlessly.”— Google Customer Solutions Team
“Google’s public policy team is actively working with members of Congress and their staff to discuss the potential impacts on the millions of American businesses that drive our economy,” the email concluded. “As the bills move forward we will be in touch with more information, as well as opportunities for you to raise your voice and be heard.”— Google Customer Solutions Team
According to John Colascione, Chief Executive Officer of Searchen Networks, a company that specializes in search engine marketing and also contributes to the Published Reporter, called the legislation “Google’s Worst Nightmare” in an op-ed earlier this month.
This could be Google’s worst nightmare, because not only would it provide a treasure-trove of information on how Google’s secret algorithm works, far more than what is already opined by search engine experts, but it would also reveal Google’s likely and suspected political bias when it comes to showing news and information sites. This would be unprecedented in the eyes of those who study search engine algorithms.John Colascione, Chief Executive Officer of Searchen Networks
The only “unintended consequences” this bill is going to have is on Google and other tech giants who will lose a significant level of control over their bias ranking methodologies in the selection of content they present. They hate this bill because they will no longer get away scot-free with populating their own products and services above others and will cease using their mighty leverage to make and break winners and losers.John Colascione, Chief Executive Officer of Searchen Networks
The bill is in the first stage of the legislative process. It will be considered by committee next before it is possibly sent on to the House or Senate as a whole.