When A Company Says One Thing And Does Another

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Eric Schmidt being interviewing on Bloomberg in 2014. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

We usually introduce a story for context. No introduction needed (or possible) in this case, just thanks to the Guardian for sharing it:

The obscure law that explains why Google backs climate deniers

Company wants to curry favour with conservatives to protect its ‘section 230’ legal immunity

Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers

When Eric Schmidt was asked on a radio show in 2014 why Google was supporting an ultra-conservative climate-denying pressure group in Washington, the then chairman of the internet giant offered an unequivocal response: it was wrong and Google was not going to do it again.

“The consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we’re trying to not do that in the future,” Schmidt told NPR. People who opposed or questioned climate science were making the world “a much worse place”, he added, and Google “should not be aligned with such people”.

But five years later, Google still funds more than a dozen organisations that deny the climate crisis and oppose political action to try to solve it. Among them is the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the group that launched the notorious Cooler Heads Coalition two decades ago, a group of conservative and libertarian pressure groups dedicated to dispelling the “myths” of global heating.

For Google, providing financial backing to groups such as CEI and the Cato Institute – staunch free marketeers – has nothing to do with climate science, and everything to do with its effort to curry favour with conservatives on its most pressing issue in Washington: protecting an obscure section of the US law that is worth billions of dollars to the company.

The law – known as section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – was established in the 1990s, at a time when the internet was in its infancy, and helped to give rise to internet giants, from Google to Facebook, by offering legal immunity to the companies for third party comments, in effect treating them as distributors of content and not publishers.

Section 230, in effect, allowed Google and Facebook to be shielded from the kinds of libel laws that can ensnare other companies, such as newspapers…

Read the whole story here.

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