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Google Businesses The Almighty Buck

Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant (nytimes.com) 122

An anonymous reader writes: A researcher at a high-profile Washington, D.C.-think tank, which receives funding from Google, was pushed out after criticizing the company. In June, Barry Lynn, who was a scholar at New America, posted a statement praising the European Union's record $2.7 billion fine against the company. Lynn ran a team, Open Markets, that researched competition policy and was increasingly critical of giants like Google and Amazon. Google executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, criticized Lynn's statement to the think tank's CEO, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to The New York Times. Schmidt chaired New America until 2016. The think tank has received $21 million from Google and Schmidt's family's foundation since its founding in 1999. The statement reportedly disappeared from the think tank website but returned hours later. According to the Times, word of Schmidt's displeasure spread across the think tank. Slaughter fired Lynn days later, saying in an email obtained by the Times that "the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways." Slaughter told Lynn in an email that his firing was "in no way based on the content of your work," but said he was "imperiling the institution as a whole." Lynn told the Times he believed his dismissal was because he criticized Google.
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Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant

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  • New Slogan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @11:51AM (#55111201)
    Google: let's be evil.
    • "Do no good." would be a fit too.
    • Or Google: 'redefining evil, because we can'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PoopJuggler ( 688445 )
      How is firing people who aren't meeting expectations "evil"? You can't just take this guy's word -- every blowhard thinks he was fired for some nefarious reason, but usually it's because they're just horrible people to deal with and everybody in the office hates them.
      • Re:New Slogan (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ewibble ( 1655195 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @01:48PM (#55112073)

        Ok I don't know why he was fired, neither do you, but the appearance of bias is almost as bad as actual bias. It takes away legitimacy from the think tank. It is like google is above firing people they disagree with (https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/8/8/16106728/google-fired-engineer-anti-diversity-memo). A person should have the right to express their opinion weather or not you agree with it. If your think beliefs can't stand up to scrutiny then they can't be very sound beliefs.

        If you are going to have a think tank, the need have opposing opinions, otherwise you come up with a predetermined solution. I you set up group to decide what color you should paint a wall, and your criteria for picking them is they want the wall to be pink, guess what you are going to get a pink wall.

        If google has the power to push out people it disagrees with then you don't have a think tank, you have a lobbing tool for google. In reality that is what a "think tank" is, but it shouldn't be.

        • Re:New Slogan (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @03:01PM (#55112583)

          "If you are going to have a think tank, the need have opposing opinions, otherwise you come up with a predetermined solution."

          I don't think you understand what think tanks are for. They are for exactly this. They are to provide a facade of credibility to a body that is pushing an agenda of one sort or another.

          • Yep, if you think that companies give these "think tanks" money to come up with ideas and run with them you are crazy. They give money to these to push an agenda. The "news" of this article is that one of the employees of this propaganda machine didn't understand what his job really was.

        • by Xest ( 935314 )

          Google has a history of this - they didn't like being held to EU data protection laws, so they created a think tank and spent millions sending it around Europe, except all questions to the think tank were pre-screened and you could be turned away if you asked a question they didn't like.

          Think tanks as a lobbying tool is already a well established part of Google's modus operandi, thus all think tanks Google produce are effectively meaningless for the reasons you cite - they simply can't be trusted to act as

      • RTFA:

        "And after this article was published online Wednesday morning, Ms. Slaughter wrote on Twitter that it was “false.” She failed to cite any errors on Twitter or in a statement issued hours later through New America. Ms. Mariani did not respond to requests to identify errors or to make Ms. Slaughter available for an interview."
    • by spun ( 1352 )

      Why do you hate capitalism and the free market?

      • Snarkiness aside, this is not capitalism nor is it free market. This (now commonplace activity) is conspiracy of a powerful corporation to influence the government in order to tilt the playing ground in their favor against consumers and against their competition. It's tantamount to bribery and the politicians and CEOs behind it ought to be placed before a court of law. We haven't had a free market for as long as I've been alive, and probably well before that.
        • by spun ( 1352 )

          Wait, what? Who is bribing whom? What activity are you even talking about? I thought we were talking about a guy getting fired for not doing his job.

          • Are you playing ignorant or do you really not know what a think tank is? Whatever, I'll play along... think tanks are organizations which aim to lobby the government in and influence public opinion, or at least manufacture consent/approval by giving something in exchange for favorable news coverage.
            • yes, and they fired a naive fool who apparently didn't realize that this was his job as a think tank worker (think-tanker?).

            • Look, everybody can take their shot at influencing public opinion, or the opinions of government officials. Think tanks do this by coming up with arguments. This is fine. Bribery is when an official gets something he or she values in exchange for influence or doing a particular thing, not when an official gets convinced that something is the right thing to do, or that the official's constituents want it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          Snarkiness aside, this is not capitalism

          Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which capital controls the means of production. How is this not capitalism?

          nor is it free market.

          Google wasn't getting what it was paying for, so they decided that he shouldn't get paid any more. How is this not the free market?

          • Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which capital controls the means of production. How is this not capitalism?

            i'm pretty sure that's wrong, because it didn't include "Jesus" or "freedom". also your phrasing practically invites criticism, which is itself tantamount to being a Marxist, and since you're a communist you must be wrong. qed.

    • People with the money get to decide what's evil and good.
    • Google sure does love censorship.

      Time to dust off the old antitrust laws. Break up Google!

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        There is not that much really there to break up. Google with the help of the deep state and scammy bankers, just used their overprice share float to buy up other actually performing companies, in order to take a more dominant and corruptive position in line with their deep state finnacial origins. You start to think how best to avoid dealing with google and remeber that I don't spend one cent with google. A lot of advertisers are simply sucked in.

        For example, when looking for a specific company and the sea

  • "the time has come for Open Markets and (New) America to part ways."

    Apart from the spelling error (either America or "the New World"), I'd mod this a slow news day...

  • Understandable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by volodymyrbiryuk ( 4780959 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @11:56AM (#55111239)
    The so called think-tanks are institutions for lobbyism and public opinion manipulation in favor of the funding company. In other word a propaganda machines. Lynn didn't do what he iwas payed to do and got fired. Stop pretending like his job was to be objective in the first place.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly correct. They are just fake news generators for their funders.

    • Stop pretending you're not a douche bag....
    • That's not really the story here, the story is that Google has clearly gone evil. Seeing that they were founded on the slogan "Don't be evil" it's a pretty big change. Firing that engineer for saying men and women are different was when they crossed the moral event horizon, and now their face-heel turn appears complete.

      Now all Google needs is a red lightsaber and a cool makeover with some spikes or breathing machine. It's so sad. I loved Google for a long time. They really were one of the good guys,

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @11:57AM (#55111257)
    I think it's pretty good marketing for the New America Foundation. This is a fairly inexpensive way to tell the whole world that they'll think whatever they're paid to.
  • WRONG! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 )

    Google executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, criticized Lynn's statement to the think tank's CEO, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to The New York Times.

    A comma is NOT necessary just because the subject consists of more than one word. Fuckheads.

    • A comma is NOT necessary just because the subject consists of more than one word. Fuckheads.

      I, disagree.

    • Why use commas for Anne-Marie Slaughter but not for Eric Schmidt? Regardless of whether commas are needed, both names should be treated the same. It should be one way or the other.
  • Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @12:02PM (#55111295)

    He who pays the piper calls the tune.

    • Pipers gotta pipe.

      Think Tanks gotta psychically power their overland armored vehicles to shoot mind bullets at the enemy.

      That costs dosh.

  • Pretty mild to get just dumped, if it is just that. No other consequences?
    Looking at turkey, someone "thinks" it would be good to get rid of someone, just call him/her a terrorist.
    Brave new world....

    • Basically, fuck Google. Fuck Eric Schmidt.

      Google is dangerous, too big, too influential, too invasively creepy.

      In some dystopian future, people will think back on events like this and say "Why didn't we see all of this coming?" Right before the telescreen interrupts with the tune calling for morning calisthenics.

      • Right before the telescreen interrupts with the tune calling for morning calisthenics.

        Haven't you been following tech news?

        They're working on a direct brain-computer interface.

        You won't have a choice. Your body will simply do calisthenics as the exercise/health program running on your dry/wetware processor schedules & initiates.

        You'll simply be a passenger. And you'll pay for the privilege. Automatically. Without your consent.

        Because that's what is best for society/the collective as determined by your betters.

        Strat

  • You want the company that provides funding to part ways with your organization?
    At what point when funding goes away does the org cease to exist?

  • isn't this how markets work?

    I feel like there is a distinct failure to recognize the fundamental problems behind the theory of the free market.

    • Yeah, pretty much.

      Thinks tanks are paid to think along certain lines. Don't worry, they'll find someone else to think the right thoughts.

    • You certainly are confused but then you're trolling for Google, so fuck off...
      • No, I do not support or condone the actions of Google. However, I find it funny that so many proponents of the free market are incapable of even acknowledging that there are serious flaws in the theory.

        • by Whibla ( 210729 )

          While I'm not a proponent of the free market, if anything quite the reverse - free market capitalism as it is currently being practiced particularly:

          I find it funny that so many proponents of the free market are incapable of even acknowledging that there are serious flaws in the theory.

          I'm not sure there are any flaws in the theory. It's simply that reality doesn't match the theory! ;-)

  • that feeds you. A very old saying. You work at a google sponsored lobby firm, remember who pays your check.
  • The only way the people at this think tank could retain even an iota of credibility is to disband the think tank and start afresh, or to come clean and admit they advance the causes of their corporate donors. They've done neither and really shot themselves in the foot.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The purpose of think tanks is twofold:

      Lobby for whatever cause they're paid to lobby for, and

      Provide jobs for people who were put out of work by the most recent election and are waiting for the next election to get another appointment

      • The purpose of think tanks is twofold:

        Lobby for whatever cause they're paid to lobby for, and

        Provide jobs for people who were put out of work by the most recent election and are waiting for the next election to get another appointment

        I don't think that's entirely untrue, but it's also extremely cynical. Most people are not born corrupt, and many go into these think tanks with the idea of promoting good solutions to difficult problems. Not everyone is evil.

  • by uCallHimDrJ0NES ( 2546640 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @12:27PM (#55111487)

    Soon it will be all you can do anyway.

  • It is no surprise that most Think Tanks are located in D.C. They are lobbying organizations. Such BS.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I think they're less lobbying organizations than they are intellectual justification factories.

      Pick a position on an issue, threw a few million dollars at a bunch of academics, and you can probably wind up with enough "evidence" to advocate for the truth and accuracy of your position and bury your opponents.

      I think at one time, think tanks actually did something useful -- academic studies of issues ignored by academics, or multidisciplinary studies of issues that weren't well explained by any single discipl

      • In Douglas Adam's "Long Dark Teatime of the Soul", one character had written a decision support system, which would take a decision and support it. Unfortunately, the US Armed Forces made it impossible for him to sell it to the public.

      • I think they're less lobbying organizations than they are intellectual justification factories.

        Lobbying is half constructing a halfway believable argument, and half applying the right amount of grease to all the right places to keep the machine running the way you want it to. Think tanks are half of that.

    • Think-Alike Tank.

  • So this was not actually a think tank, this organization was a tax deductible way for Google to shill and lobby for it's policies covertly. This kind of conflict of interest with charitable donations should be scrutinized hard by the federal government. It is likely that Google owes tax on every dollar sent to this institution since they are clearly a Google proxy, and not an independent entity. The think tank should probably also lose any tax benefits it has and be re-categorized as a lobbying organizat

    • So this was not actually a think tank, this organization was a tax deductible way for Google to shill and lobby for it's policies covertly.

      Not that I'm happy to see Google doing these things, but please point to the think tank that isn't precisely that for someone.

      • by Cederic ( 9623 )

        So lets apply the same investigation on others too. This doesn't need to be a partisan activity, it's a way to assure compliance with tax laws.

      • I am all for a case by case review of these think tanks. From what I have seen, there are a fair number of such on both the political right and left who are genuinely focused on issues and spreading their ideas on the cable shows. Most of the grass roots Tea Party 501C organizations that Obama's IRS fraudulently sabotaged were in the same category and were genuinely focused on policy, voter education and turnout.

        I don't know what the spread is between legit think tanks and lobbying proxies, but there are

  • Google isn't interested in diversity of opinion. Group think is what they're all about now.

  • For those who don't know - think tanks are basically evangelizers, they are hired and paid for government lobbying. Specially if they are located in DC.
    It's like having your high level 3rd party marketing team making public statements and celebrating that your company was successfully sued. In their official page, no less.
    This isn't even backroom talk, it's basically doing the opposite you were hired for.

  • "the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,”

    Really! And only so recently?! I would swear that the "New" America parted ways with "Open Markets" some time back.

  • Guy writes critical article of the main investor of the company, gets fired. News at 11.

  • Careful what we are saying. Heads keeps rolling everywhere.

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