Does Microsoft Support Hate?

December 9, 2005 at 6:36 am | Posted in Hating Hate | Leave a comment

Someone said to me today, in reference to this blog: isn’t this like Windows?

Their point was that these companies, Google, Amazon, etc, are providing infrastructure, just like Microsoft provides infrastructure for most of the PCs out there. If someone uses a PC to commit a crime, Microsoft isn’t responsible. More relevant to here, if someone uses MS Word and Windows to write hateful articles, Microsoft isn’t responsible. So why should other “infrastructure” providers be held responsible?

The answer is that Google, Yahoo, MSN are not Windows. They are not providing a neutral, multi-purpose service. They are actually providing REVENUE to people who conduct hate campaigns. They are associating their advertisers and their shareholders with this hate content. And they are implicitly endorsing this hate speech by providing a funding source.

Amazon is even more different. It is using hate speech to generate leads for itself, not third parties. So they are associating their brand with hate speech, and they are, again, directly funding hate speech – not merely funneling money like the search/advertising companies.
It is a weak argument, in my opinion, for Google, MSN, Yahoo, Amazon, etc, to claim that they shouldn’t be held responsible for the speech they choose to associate themselves with. They’re wrong. Just because 200,000 people are Amazon affiliates does not remove Amazon’s obligations.

They all have very explicit policies against this – I have quoted some of them in earlier posts. And, they have actually taken action in some cases – when ADVERTISERS complain in Google’s case, when a large number of activists complain in Amazon’s case. If they didn’t think it was wrong, why would they have taken action in any case? They clearly see a problem. They just don’t care. They are lazy. They are afraid of the economic consequences of doing the right thing.

Probably worst of all, they are trying to pull a sleight of hand against the public. They are trying to have it both ways. They want to benefit from the results, but claim to not be responsible for the impact. That is ethically wrong – so much for “Don’t be evil”. It is also a violation of the trust employees, consumers and advertisers have placed in these firms.

We shouldn’t let them say one thing and do another. As it stands today, Google is funding a group that calls for violent suicide attacks. Amazon is funding a group that calls for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from the US. And there are many, many more that await discovery.

And all of these companies, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay – are making money for their shareholders on the back of hatred. It is time they stopped.

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