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Google Asked To Label Anti-Fracking Websites As ‘Fake News’

Public Policy

An oil and gas drilling advocacy group published an open letter to Google asking the search engine giant to consider “purging or demoting” websites spreading misinformation about hydraulic fracturing.

Google rewrote its search engine algorithm to bury “fake news” websites in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. The industry-funded Texans for Natural Gas wants Google to include anti-fracking websites.

“We believe many of the most prominent anti-fracking websites have content that is misleading, false, or offensive – if not all three,” the group wrote in an open letter to Google published Monday.

“As a result, we urge you to consider purging or demoting these websites from your algorithm, which in turn will encourage a more honest public discussion about hydraulic fracturing, and oil and natural gas development in general,” the group wrote.

Google raters “assess search results — to flag web pages that host hoaxes, conspiracy theories and what the company calls ‘low-quality’ content,” Bloomberg reported in April. Google and Facebook were both heavily criticized for allowing “fake news” to taint the presidential election.

Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with some chemicals and sand, deep underground to unlock vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The drilling technique sparked an energy boom, but riled up environmentalists who saw it as a threat to the planet.

Texans for Natural Gas argue environmental groups have put out plenty of false information about fracking.

The Sierra Club, for example, claims on its website that “[f]racking has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans.” It cites no evidence to back up this claim.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final study on fracking’s impacts on groundwater in late 2016, and found no widespread evidence fracking was contaminating groundwater.

“While the number of identified cases of drinking water contamination is small, the scientific evidence is insufficient to support estimates of the frequency of contamination,” Thomas Burke, the former deputy assistant administrator at EPA, told reporters in December.

In another example, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune also claimed fracking was harming newborn babies, pointing to a study he thought found such an association. The 2015 study in question, however, did not make that finding.

Study co-author Dr. Bruce Pitt of the University of Pittsburgh said it’s “important to stress that our study does not say that these pollutants caused the lower birth weights.”

Some environmentalists have gone even further. Sharon Wilson of Earthworks compared fracking to “rape.”

“It is a violation of justice and it is despoiling the land,” Wilson claimed in a 2015 blog post. “Victims usually suffer PTSD.”

“Claims made by the radical environmentalist campaign against hydraulic fracturing are protected by the First Amendment,” Texans for Natural Gas wrote to Google.

“Groups that wish to peddle misleading information about oil and natural gas are fully within their rights to do so,” the group wrote. “Many of the groups engaging in anti-fracking advocacy have devoted significant resources to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and as a result they receive significant web traffic.”

“But that is no reason for Google to reward such misinformation with its powerful search engine,” Texans for Natural Gas wrote. “We urge you consider adding these groups’ websites to your review of fake news and the kinds of content that you do not wish to promote.”

daily caller

14 Comments on "Google Asked To Label Anti-Fracking Websites As ‘Fake News’"

  1. Kevin Cobley on Mon, 8th May 2017 7:14 pm 

    No more fracking.

  2. twocats on Mon, 8th May 2017 7:31 pm 

    says… the daily caller… that’s rich.

  3. dissident on Mon, 8th May 2017 7:31 pm 

    Funny how during the whole Cold War with rather intense propaganda “penetration” into the west there was no effort to implement nanny state censorship. But now everything that does not fit the establishment agenda is “fake news”. Well, it’s the legitimacy of the establishment to engage in this totalitarian BS that is fake.

  4. Plantagenet on Mon, 8th May 2017 7:42 pm 

    Too bad the left does’t believe in freedom of speech anymore.

    Once the left started shouting down speakers and banning discussions of viewpoints that weren’t PC at colleges and universities, it was inevitable that censorship would speak to the media, the internet, etc. etc.

    Now censorship is coming for the anti-frackers.


  5. GregT on Mon, 8th May 2017 7:58 pm 

    “Too bad the left does’t believe in freedom of speech anymore.”

    And to think that for all of these years I thought that the republicans (and Trump) leaned to the right?

    Thanks for clarifying things plant-o-crite.

  6. onlooker on Mon, 8th May 2017 8:08 pm 

    But now everything that does not fit the establishment agenda is “fake news”.
    Yep that has become the very definition of fake news. Orwellian society and Fascism are alive and well

  7. makati1 on Mon, 8th May 2017 8:49 pm 

    Onlooker, it’s a good thing that the Snowflakes cannot read so the world of Orwell is not know to them. But, maybe they would not care anyway. Their creed is: “If it doesn’t ‘feel’ good, ignore/deny that it exists.”

  8. rockman on Mon, 8th May 2017 11:37 pm 

    I’ve sighted numerous cases of false and intentionally misleading articles against frac’ng. I’ve also pointed out case of proven pollution with frac fluids…usually from illegal disposal and not the actual frac operations. There’s no industrial activity that’s risk free…just like virtually every other activity folks undertake.

    But I don’t have a problem with anyone telling out and out lies about any aspect of the fossil fuel industry. Many folks not only don’t want to look beyond inflammatory headlines but are also lack the intelligence to independently develop even the most fundamental knowledge base. If someone gets upset over false stories that’s their responsibility.

    The basic problem I have with censorship is the gray areas when it’s difficult to delegate the lies from honest misinterpretation. That’s when a honest debate has its most value. If one side can’t provide sufficient evidence to support their position that in itself is a valuable contribution.

  9. Midnight Oil on Tue, 9th May 2017 12:29 am 

    Man, if these think fracking is bad now, wait until cracking comes online.
    That’s when they nuke underground geological formations to release the stored hydrocarbons.
    Of course, it’s all legal and safe now that Trump is in the process of dismantling the EPA and all regulations that impede economic growth and wealth creation.

  10. deadlykillerbeaz on Tue, 9th May 2017 6:04 am 

    Oil wells are fracked because fracking works, there is more oil after you frack. A Roberts torpedo down the hole at 69 feet will get you an oil well in Pennsylvania, the first one. That’s fracking, later on down the line, it all improved and here we are.

    Ground water wells are fracked too. It is done because it works, you get more water, the well doesn’t go dry, it can pump for hours and there is still more. Water is important, you can take a bath in it, you can even drink it! Amazing stuff, water.

    ‘Drink all the water you can hold, wash your face to your feet, but leave the bottle full for others, thank you kindly, Desert Pete.’

    Here it says what Roberts really did do:

    On April 26th, 1865, Edward Roberts received his first patent, for an “Improvement” in exploding torpedoes in artesian wells. In November of 1866, Edward Roberts was awarded patient number 59,936, known as the “Exploding Torpedo.”This extraction method was implemented by packing a torpedo in an iron case that contained 15-20 pounds of powder. The case was then lowered into the oil well, at a spot closest to the oil. From there, they would explode the torpedo by connecting the top of the shell with wire to the surface, and then filling the borehole with water.

    This invention increased oil production by 1200 percent from certain wells within a week of being implemented. This also led to the founding of Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company, which charged $100-$200 dollars per rocket, plus a royalty of 1/15 of the profits generated from the product.

    If you are going to go through all of the trouble of extracting oil from wells, it must have some economic value, something for somebody. That’s what oil does, it makes work less troublesome, increases efficiencies.

    If it weren’t for oil and coal, fossil fuels, how could the wind turbine manufacturers light up the shops?

    It’s a dirty, filthy, nasty world out there, mean, even. Everywhere you go, that is how it is.

    That’s the way that the world goes ’round.

    What would you rather do, drive a modern tractor in the field or stand behind two draft horses that are going to fart in your face all day long?

    A tractor with air-conditioning, satellite radio, digital readouts monitoring the flows or a simple implement pulled by horses, there is a choice. It takes some knowhow, some rubber, some copper, some steel, and some fuel and oil and you got yourself some equipment. If you can have it, you can have it in the form of a tractor that can work 24 hours a day when needed. A tractor that can be programmed to do the fieldwork without an operator, a self-driving tractor that knows each field. You can have it because it exists in this post-modern world with supra-modern military bases armed to the teeth.

    Or would you rather chuck it all out the window?

    Oil is amazing stuff, like water, it does far more than you will ever know. Both will sail ships, so don’t knock any of it. Floats your boat.

    Makes for a great party!

    And quit bashing the American Empire, it gets old too.

  11. Davy on Tue, 9th May 2017 6:16 am 

    I am anti-modernism and anti-green fakes. You can’t attack fossil fuels and also pursue affluence and development and call yourself truly green. This state and the actions are incongruous juxtapositions in the current configuration of market based capitalism and a hijacked liberal democracy in population overshoot. You can’t use science where it is supportive and dismiss it where it does not fit techno optimism. Most fake greens are techno optimist and conduct life in the status quo. Climate change is a predicament. Modernism is a predicament. We can’t degrowth without civilization failing. Climate change is now likely going abrupt and self-reinforcing with catastrophic consequences. In this case attacking fossil fuels is dishonesty if you are fake green. Claiming to be green in this case is little more than delusional self-righteousness.

    It is likely the case we can be greener and less destructive but in no way can we be truly green and harmonious. This is just another one of the delusional social narratives with a basis of optimism. The point is not to be anti-green but to define what real green is. Real green is poverty and humility within nature’s cycles. This is never going to happen until it happens with civilization. It will happen in a die down that is coming that is necessary. It will happen when civilization ends as we know it in a catastrophic process. The term necessary is not a human term it is a natural one of an unfolding according to natural patterns.

    Civilization can try to be greener and that’s OK. As an individual you can take it even further but don’t for a minute think it will change much. This action is special for you and for the nature near you. If you are truly green you will also impart social justice because you will seek a life of modesty and humility. Ransom acts of kindness to your fellow man and nature near you will come natural. You will embrace the wisdom to say no and yield to higher forces instead of the pursuit of the normal human of success. This success is generally associated with competition and achievement resulting in rich, famous, or exceptional. It is not that we should avoid competition and achievement. What we must define is what we are achieving and how competitive.

    What is a wise competitive? Do we allow individuals modern freedoms? Look where our cooperative competition has gone in nationalism and globalism. We have destroyed the commons and gutted the public domain as we consider ourselves above the beasts and exceptional. We have destroyed a rich planetary system of a dirty human one. Go to any city and try to tell me they are not dirty. That is considered civilization. Real green is an ideal for most. A very small few can get their but only because society allows multiple pathways of expression.

    We can all be honest and try to be as green as possible in relative sacrifice. The catch is society cannot be honest. Society is all for fake green because that fits the credo of techno optimism and development. It is considered sustainable development but is not because it is just an additive and extender of the status quo. Everything must adhere to the status quo at the level of guidance from civilization. Modern globalism is purely exploitive because of market based capitalism and social cooperation based on a hyper techno optimism and the unbridled search for knowledge. There are doors that should not be opened just because they can be. Unbridled individual freedom leads to a civilization in overshoot. This can’t be stopped anymore until it stops. Stop it will because we are on a finite planet with limits. Space travel is a joke so don’t think some of us can leave this insanity. Every one of us here will be worm food or dust. All of this on planet earth. Dreaming of leaving the planet is just more of the same deception.

    You may ask what can be done. Be honest with yourself and realize society can’t be honest by its very nature. This dishonesty is foundational. There is plenty of honesty on top of this dishonest foundation so this may sound ludicrous. This is why mental illness is so rife in society. It is why destructive behavior are multiplying. The foundation is a lie and those who believe in human exceptionalism are by definition dishonest. Leave the dishonesty and everything else falls into place. This is not transcendence because you will have to wade back into the swamp and die in the swamp. It is more a force of spirit that will guide you can give you strength. OH, BTW, I am not green. I want to be and am trying to be. I live in the same lie you do but I am working on that.

  12. peakyeast on Tue, 9th May 2017 7:35 am 

    “Edward Roberts was awarded patient number 59,936”..

    Doesnt sound good to be a patient ;-).. Then again – But I suppose since its an award it will be a free stay at the mental hospital – so sorta good..

  13. rockman on Tue, 9th May 2017 9:39 am 

    beaz – We actually still use down hole explosives. One common brand is called “StimGun”. Relative small since it’s only designed to frac a well 10′ or so away from the well bore. Usually done to get past reservoir damage caused during drilling, production and also injection in disposal wells.

    The interesting connection to his “torpedo” is the explosive used in the StimGun: the propellant used in the Stinger surface to air missile. Easily sources and produces a high frequency blast wave that’s preferred. Sometimes called a poor man’s frac: only $15,000. But limited penetration but more important is there’s no proppant. Before the StimGun et al we would do very small “clean up” frac’d. But much more expensive and mechanically risky.

  14. Sissyfuss on Tue, 9th May 2017 9:46 am 

    Texans Expurgating Asses of Gas also asked Google to label climate disruption, 6th mass extinction, and ocean acidification as fake news as well. Google says they’re working on it.

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