What do you get if you combine a petty little man like Tab Atkins Jr. and a culture that promotes defaming people who don't share your ideology? The answer: Manipulated search results to punish those they believe "deserve it".
With the increasing evidence that Google some employees have no problem trying to ruin the careers of those that they disagree with, it is not surprising that its employees feel comfortable using their privileged position at Google to smite those guilty of wrong-think.
Take the case of Google search employee Tab Atkins Jr. After a Twitter spat with Zoe Quinn, Atkins decided that social justice needed to be served and wrote a libelous smear of me on his blog with the title "Brad Wardell is a douchebag"...three years ago.
As a semi-public figure I'm pretty used to someone, somewhere writing something unpleasant about me. What I was not prepared for, however, was someone who knew Google's search algorithms well enough to keep their little blog post up at the top of Google (but no other search engine's) search results for three years.
Compare the difference:
No where to be found.
No where to be found.
Right at the top just behind my Twitter and Wikipedia pages.
Now mind you, I've been featured in a lot of newspapers, magazines and websites over the years from Time Magazine to the WSJ to USA Today and of course frequently in the technology news sector. None of those articles come up. LinkedIn.com doesn't even come up. Even the infamous false allegation of "sexual harassment" that certain gaming journalists latched onto (and later apologized for) can't beat it.
Either the SEO managers at LinkedIn, FaceBook, Kotaku, USAToday.com, Time.com, etc. need to recruit this guy...or, more likely, this guy knows how to manipulate Google search results. I don't know if Google gives preferential treatment to results from its employees or not. What is known is that the results are unique to Google and have managed to survive 3 years at the top despite his blog not being notable.
However, the issue I have isn't just about Tab bt rather, what it says about Google's culture. I don't think anyone I have ever worked with would feel comfortable doing this to someone. I'm the publisher of Neowin and it's never occurred to me to use my power to try to ruin an individual. What is the mindset of someone who writes something like that and then uses what appears to be insider SEO knowledge to ensure it nears the top? What it says to me is that there's something gross about Google's culture and that they have a pretty high confidence that they can mete our social justice at those they feel deserve it.
Now, imagine if I weren't already a successful CEO that will never have to find a new job but instead was just "some guy". What Tab did would be catastrophic. It sends a chilling message to those who participate in social media: Piss off an SJW at Google and they will use their privileged position to harm you.
Now, you might ask "Have I reached out to Tab?" and the answer is, yes:
That was two years ago. In which he responded "he'd think about it".
Perhaps Google has some other explanation as to how their employee's 3 year-old blog gets to the top only on Google and no other site. I have my own opinions.
In the meantime, consider this: Imagine if an employee at Google had written such an article about say Zoe Quinn or some other SJW darlying? What do you think would happen to them?
Up until the revelation that Google employees will actively banish people who don't share their politics I was willing to think that Tab was just an isolated "bad apple". But now, I feel very uncomfortable at that thought that anyone out there with the "wrong opinion" is only a few keystrokes away from being smeared by Google employees in the online search results.
I am hopeful that this current trend of using the Internet to deplatform, defame and otherwise attempt to harm people comes to an end.
The irony of returning the favor by naming this post after Tab isn't lost on me. However, since Tab doesn't seem to be familiar with the concept of empathy or decency, the best I can do is make sure that others know the kind of unethical behavior being engaged in by Google employees.
Your opinions are welcome.