In June 2018, Google – the portal through which we discover facts, make connections, interpret the world – decided to change its algorithms about which information gains preference on its pages. Its target was alternative and natural health. At a stroke, all information about alternative and natural health disappeared or was relegated to back pages.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, a functional medicine specialist and architect of a highly popular nutritional health site, whose referenced content has been at the top of health search results for some 15 years, he says, experienced a 99 percent drop in natural search engine traffic. Our own magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You saw its traffic halved.
As Mercola wrote a few weeks ago: “When entering a health-related search word into Google, you will no longer find Mercola.com articles in the search results. The only way to locate Mercola articles is by adding ‘Mercola.com’ to the search words in question.”
Even then, he goes on, if ‘undesirables’ like him don’t outright vanish on Google, the tech giant has a raft of ‘quality raters’ who will manually manipulate even pages with crowd-sourced relevance, to bury them.
In fact, any negative stories about alternative health practitioners, no matter how questionable, now appear at the top of search results about them.
At the top of any Google search is Wikipedia, run by invigilators who are ardent skeptics of anything out of the orthodoxy. British biologist Rupert Sheldrake, Joe Mercola and just about anyone else with an alternative view of the world finds it fruitless to attempt to correct any inaccuracy about them on their Wikipedia page.
Google never saw fit to explain the reason for its drastic change, but it was generally assumed to have something to do with government scrutiny of Big Tech, a misguided attempt to eliminate fake news or even a response to the new epidemic of measles with an attempt to protect the public from ‘anti-vax’ sites.
Sadly, the answer is a good deal more insidious, a massive concerted effort by Big Tech and giant corporations to censor the information you are allowed to see, not for any justifiable moral reason or adherence to the facts other than to consolidate Big Profits.
Just climb down this rabbit hole for a moment.
In the last six years, Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has set up two pharmaceutical companies: Calico (2013) and Verily Life Sciences (2015). Verily went on to partner with GlaxoSmithKline to create a third innovative drug company called Galvani Bioelectronics.
In this way, Google can essentially harvest patients for Verily. Say you type in ‘alternatives for arthritis.’ What won’t immediately appear any longer are actual alternatives.
You’ll see results for many pages on conventional treatments, and what may also pop up is an ad inviting you to add your name to a drug trial registry so that, if desired, you can participate in a trial of an exciting breakthrough drug.
Climb down this hole some more. Mary Ellen Coe, Alphabet’s president of customer solutions, also happens to be on the board of Merck, which happens to manufacture the MMR vaccine.
Other big online giants are at it, too. Amazon, now the world’s largest online store, has bought PillPack, a company that pre-sorts drugs, and is partnering with another drug company to identify suitable patients for new cancer drugs.
Amazon now owns Wholefoods, and Wholefoods, despite its reputation for promoting all things wholesome and natural, has banned all ‘anti-vax books’, and even recently banned our magazine What Doctors Don’t Tell You, despite its being one of the store chain’s top-selling magazines.
We were never told why, but we assume it had to do with a column in the last issue that appeared on its shelves, asking some pertinent questions about vaccines.
Our youngest daughter recently graduated with a design degree. Her thesis and final project this year had to do with media as an instrument of surveillance. In a nod to George Orwell, she called her project ‘small sister,’ and in her thesis she wrote: “One of the saddest aspects of this is that much of the information media has about us we largely supply. By using the media, we become the instruments of our own imprisonment.”
And that imprisonment is to enter into a world of censored information, largely tailored your history of searches and preferences, designed to make you an instrument of giant multinational profits.
But that’s only true of Google right now. If it’s an alternative and more even-handed view of the world you are seeking, look to other search engines like Yahoo or Bing.
And maybe it’s time to shop somewhere other than Amazon.