Alia Aresa Pecot a.k.a. Reese Pecot is a former attorney now employed by Google as Director and Chief of Staff in the Search Quality department. As such she is an extremely influential person even though as far as we can tell she lacks the technical expertise necessary to improve the quality of search results at all. According to our research her entire history is in the legal profession. Then all of a sudden she began working in the Trust and Safety department at Google before moving to Google Search. Her digital footprint doesn’t leave us with much to go on as far as her personal impact on search results (we are basing most of this on her LinkedIn profile), but the fact that a former lawyer has been placed in charge of something as important as search quality suggests that Google is considering far more than quality when deciding how to manipulate search rankings. We wouldn’t be surprised if she’s played a role in recent efforts to censor and suppress content on websites that did not fall into pre-existing categories for which suppression has been previously announced.
New Google Suppression of Search Results
We learned a few days ago that a website’s results were suppressed in a way that was identical to suppression we previously suffered. We suffered the suppression because we offered to remove content for a fee, so Google categorized us as having an “exploitative” removal practice and suppressed some of our sites. As a result those sites don’t rank for names of individuals anymore even if our content is the most relevant or in many cases only relevant content about a person available online. We recently found out that a site which does not remove content for a fee was suppressed in the same way. In that case the owner aggregated content about cheating from a variety of sources and installed a button which allowed anyone to remove any page for free as long as the source was no longer live. He aggregated content about cheating in academia, sports, video games, and relationships. The relationships category was his primary source of traffic until suddenly Google suppressed his site from appearing in search results for names of individuals. This suppression is a significant development because Google has only admitted to suppressing sites with content about cheaters if they charge fees to take it down.
We previously covered how the Google Search department released information proving that Google CEO Sundar Pichai lied to Congress when he said that it is not possible for employees to manipulate search rankings. That was proven false earlier this year when Google’s VP of Search Pandu Nayak announced the existence of a manual suppression system involving pairs of lists. One list includes a list of search terms manually selected by Google employees as terms they don’t want certain sites to rank for. The other list is a list of sites they don’t want ranking for those terms. In order for a site to be suppressed using this method an employee must add it to the list of sites and it must have content containing search terms from the list of terms. In the case of Cheater Diaries it featured a number of names put on a list of search terms that Google calls “known victims” but the site ranked well because it was rightfully left off the list of sites with “exploitative” removal policies. That all changed last week when somehow it found itself on the list despite never removing anything for money.
Today the suppressed site still ranks well for a lot of terms related to cheats in video games, so the owner is thinking of transforming it to a gaming site. We think he has the right idea since it can’t rank for the other things. The owner of Cheater Diaries supplied us with a list of search terms he had been ranking highly and getting traffic for. They were all names of individuals or individuals and locations. When we searched for them we couldn’t find Cheater Diaries anywhere even though in many cases there were few competing relevant results. In some cases we couldn’t find anything about the subject in Google search results at all. It was like those people vanished from the face of the internet. This type of suppression does not improve the quality of Google’s search results. It simply makes it more difficult for users searching for information about people to find what they are looking for. We admit that there was a problem with a lot of duplicate content dominating search results for such terms before Google made changes earlier this year, but Google went too far by demoting everything.
The owner of Cheater Diaries was so mad that he asked us to make him a banner promoting our Most Wanted List to run on his site in place of ads that used to match well with cheater reports. He has pledged to run the ad as long as Google suppresses his site, but he has also hinted that if he gets around to turning it into a gaming site he might let it go. We fully support him running the ad and have made the ad available for any webmaster to use in protest whenever their site is censored or suppressed by Google. If Google doesn’t like sites running our banners then they can stop censoring/suppressing them and we will stop serving the banners.
We cannot say for sure what role Pecot personally plays in this. We have our suspicions due to her occupation however. We have this picture in our minds of some attorney looking at search results and telling her co-workers to remove or suppress stuff for liability reasons. That is just the image we get when guessing what she does at Google, so don’t take this as us accusing her of doing her job a certain way. Suppressing stuff for liability reasons is no way to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
What We Know About Pecot
Alia Aresa Pecot is a former attorney not currently eligible to practice law in the state of California. Her bar number is 221316 (see California Bar Association). Public records list her last known home address as 10 Bella Vista Avenue, Belvedere Tiburon, California 94920-2485.
The quality of Google’s search results has significantly diminished since Reese Pecot has been at Google in a supervisory role. Google got where they are today by helping people find what they’re looking for, but now they are abusing their position to tell people what they should or at least should not be looking for.