Following the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, search engine website Google rewrote its engine algorithm to bury “fake news.” Fake news propaganda and conspiracy theories (such as “Pizzagate“) spread on Google, Facebook and other internet media companies was blamed for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 US presidential election, and the general spread of misinformation across the internet.
Since then, the phrase “fake news” has become thrown around with wild abandon. And, members of the industry-funded Texans for Natural Gas are taking advantage of this distaste for “Fake News” by urging Google to include anti-fracking websites in its list of sources that lack integrity and accuracy.
In an open letter to Google which was published on Monday, the group wrote, “We believe many of the most prominent anti-fracking websites have content that is misleading, false, or offensive – if not all three. As a result, we urge you to consider purging or demoting these websites from your algorithm, which in turn will encourage a more honest public discussion about hydraulic fracturing, and oil and natural gas development in general.”
Bloomberg reported in April that due to immense pressure to eliminate fake news, or what the company calls “low-quality” content, Google raters now “assess search results — to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls ‘low-quality’ content.”
The process in question is hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with sand and an assortment of chemicals, deep into the ground to unlock reserves of oil and natural gas. The drilling technique is responsible for igniting the energy boom, but many environmentalists view it as a threat to the planet. This is because the process may contaminate groundwater, pollute the air and threaten wildlands. Additionally, some scientists believe fracking causes earthquakes, as Inhabitat previously reported.
Though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did announce in 2015 that no widespread evidence was found proving that fracking contaminates groundwater, it later reversed its decision. In late 2016, the EPA concluded that there is evidence that fracking has contaminated drinking water in all stages of the process. Because of these findings, many citizens are adamant that they deserve the right to be skeptical of the process, especially considering the country’s reliance on fossil fuels is propelling climate change.
Texans for Natural Gas believe otherwise, however. The group wrote to Google, “Claims made by the radical environmentalist campaign against hydraulic fracturing are protected by the First Amendment.”
“Groups that wish to peddle misleading information about oil and natural gas are fully within their rights to do so. Many of the groups engaging in anti-fracking advocacy have devoted significant resources to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and as a result they receive significant web traffic,” they added. “But that is no reason for Google to reward such misinformation with its powerful search engine. We urge you consider adding these groups’ websites to your review of fake news and the kinds of content that you do not wish to promote.”
Via The Daily Signal
Images via Bloomberg