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Sorry, Mr. Rickets, but your site is worthless to me

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Crain’s

Todd Ricketts is taking on Google, betting there’s still a niche in internet search for what the former Republican National Committee finance chairman calls “unbiased, uncensored” media.

Ricketts, part of the family that made its fortune in the online brokerage business and owns the Chicago Cubs, recently launched Freespoke, which is described as “a search engine for the heart of America.”

“The whole concept is to put all the information in front of people and let them make up their own minds,” Ricketts says.

Google dominates the market with about 56% of all searches, followed by Microsoft at 21% and Yahoo at 9%, according to Comscore. Launching a new search engine may seem like a fool’s errand. But this is, after all, the family that bought the Cubs and managed to win a World Series after more than a century of futility.

The site was launched several months ago, but I decided to wait and see if they could get the bugs out. It’s no better now.

* For instance, Freespoke has a news search function, so I put it to the test. “JB Pritzker”

Google News results…

* Freespoke news search for “Don Harmon”

Google News…

* Freespoke news search for Illinois Legislature

Google News…

Yeah, that’s enough for me. Google may have its faults, but Freespoke still looks useless for keeping up with the news I care about.

       

36 Comments
  1. - Sterling - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:13 pm:

    Unfortunately reality has a liberal bias


  2. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:17 pm:

    This should go over about as well as Conservapedia that was hobbled by arguments between old earth creationists and new earth creationists. When no one is tethered to reality, the fragmented cranks start to turn on one another.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:22 pm:

    ===bias===

    A want of alternative facts as news is what Ricketts might want peddled?

    The thing is with these screen grabs, I don’t see anything of use towards “news” except for that “alternative facts” vibe and cheering the hollow thoughts of a twice impeached insurrection instigator…

    I dunno… if I search for something and the leading takes are from Trump, it’s not disappointing, it’s just a propaganda bot looking to influence… not aid.

    Chicago baseball has horrendous owners.

    Besides letting Abreau leave, the White Sox have a partnership with LIV Golf, the sportswashing arm of the Saudi government .

    The Cubs support Trump (except when they don’t with fingers pointing at their sister as “both sides”) as the Ricketts embrace Trump unabashedly

    It’s sad for Chicago baseball… but this search engine is a propaganda “Magic 8-Ball”, and not much more


  4. - Lurker - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:24 pm:

    The words “for America” have become meaningless … and biased.


  5. - Ok - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:32 pm:

    See, even the wingnuts think CapFax is middle of the road:

    https://freespoke.com/search/news?q=Capitol+fax


  6. - Give Us Barabbas - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:32 pm:

    This reminds me of the jokes about when Microsoft installed Bing and the most asked search inquiry on it was how to install Google.


  7. - Rudy’s teeth - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:42 pm:

    Rich,
    Thanks for doing research so we don’t have to give Ricketts any clicks.


  8. - vern - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:44 pm:

    This country’s billionaires need an intervention. Why are they all so brain-poisoned by politics? The whole point of being that rich is to not have to care. If I became a billionaire you all would never hear from me again. I’d do my level best to completely forget who the Governor of Illinois is, and I’d have absolutely no thoughts on the political bias of Google’s search algorithm.


  9. - sulla - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:45 pm:

    Maybe Freespoke can be the bundled-in search engine on Elon Musk’s new Twitter phone.


  10. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:50 pm:

    From their privacy policy;

    “We include all points of view - so long as they’re not totally cringe, creepy or morally objectionable”


  11. - ChicagoVinny - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:52 pm:

    Well this is less foolish than spending 44 billion on Twitter but that’s a low bar


  12. - thisjustinagain - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 12:53 pm:

    Freespoke is DoublePlusUngood.

    (”DoublePlusGood” Eurythmics, “1984″).


  13. - Terry Salad - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:00 pm:

    I’m afraid to even ask about what a search for COVID or ivermectin will produce.


  14. - Matty - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:05 pm:

    Is there an athlete also named Don Harmon? Why would that search generate sports ball results?


  15. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:08 pm:

    ===ivermectin will produce===

    Top two results are from the Epoch Times, a far-right publication published by a cult. lol

    https://freespoke.com/search/news?q=ivermectin


  16. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:09 pm:

    ===Is there an athlete also named Don Harmon? ===

    There are a few Don Harmon’s in the world and they randomly show up in Google, but those sports stories were written by Matt Harmon. As you can see, I put Don Harmon in quotes. I shouldn’t have been fed those results.

    Useless.


  17. - Homebody - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:11 pm:

    == Is there an athlete also named Don Harmon? Why would that search generate sports ball results? ==

    Yahoo Sports has an author who writes about fantasy football named Matt Harmon. It is just grabbing all his articles. So the normally accepted “quotes mean this exact phrase” functionality isn’t working.

    No idea why it is favoring Yahoo Sports over other famous people named Harmon, but that appears to be what is happening.


  18. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:13 pm:

    I tried searching for “Chicago Cubs” and was directed to a site that claimed the Cubs had won more World Series championships than any other team in mlb. /s

    FYI: the “Google News” feed to the right lists stories published by Proft’s phony newspapers. (In case anyone is interested, a River Forest tennis player is now the 29,184 ranked Junior Girls player in the country)


  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:17 pm:

    Like vertical integration needs any more help.

    You have a search engine… engineered to “search” for vertical integration things as if they are random finds of alternative facts.

    Gotta keep the cultists away from facts when alternative facts feed the silly.


  20. - jackmac - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:20 pm:

    What a useless search engine. Thanks for checking out FreeSpoke so I can continue to ignore it.


  21. - Flying Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:27 pm:

    Always amusing when a billionaire believes success in one area translates to success everywhere.

    See Musk, Elon:Twitter.


  22. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:29 pm:

    What is with the pictures? Usually if I want to search with test, unless I have chosen images, I want to search for text hits. I can read an article about Gov. Pritzker without seeing his face, for goodness sakes (not that he’s ugly or anything, but I know what he looks like)


  23. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:36 pm:

    =This country’s billionaires need an intervention. Why are they all so brain-poisoned by politics?=

    I mean, how in the world did they get to be such thin-skinned babies? I thought their world was cutthroat and all?

    =The whole point of being that rich is to not have to care. If I became a billionaire you all would never hear from me again.=

    Ditto. And…who cares about taxes at that point. I mean if you can blow $100mil on various losing campaigns why not just pay the taxes and save a little humiliation?


  24. - Streator Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 1:41 pm:

    Google got in the game VERY early and grew to the point where it now dictates to web sites what they need to do to get ranked. It’s far from perfect but has had many years to up its game.

    Maybe the most revealing take I saw on the Ricketts family was the episode of Undercover Boss, where they worked incognito at Wrigley Field. One literally did not know how to clean a toilet and had to be shown.


  25. - Loyal Virus - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 2:12 pm:

    -Harvey Francis- Yes, but she *would* have been ranked 29,183 if it weren’t for that trans girl she lost to. Probably.


  26. - Huh? - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 2:32 pm:

    “Undercover Boss, where they worked incognito at Wrigley Field.”

    One threw away hotdogs, and lied about when he was caught.


  27. - Huh? - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 2:36 pm:

    “29,184 ranked Junior Girls player in the country”

    Only at the River Forest Tennis Club is being ranked 29,184th something to write home about.


  28. - Suburban Mom - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:13 pm:

    Forget the incredibly bad search, this privacy policy is NUTBARS. It’s absolutely not compliant with EU or California regulations.

    They also do not have a compliant cookie disclosure.

    I am super-tempted to have a friend in France open the website and then promptly report it to CNIL for non-compliance with the law.


  29. - MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:20 pm:

    “I am super-tempted to have a friend in France open the website and then promptly report it to CNIL for non-compliance with the law.”

    If you do, I will donate $10 to the charity of your choice.

    – MrJM


  30. - Suburban Mom - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:26 pm:

    Also, good news, they’re fighting big tech by giving you an alternative to big tech … by using Microsoft Azure, Netlify (which in turn uses Google, Dropbox, Salesforce, Zendesk, Akismet, Hubspot, etc. …) and Matomo (which in turn uses Google, Amazon AWS, PayPal, Hubspot …)

    Microsoft is the biggest of big tech, Netlify is proudly queer, and Matomo … has a lot going on, but three EU regulators have already declared it not in compliance. (But they process your data in Paris, contra the “made with love in the US” on the freespoke website.)


  31. - Stuck in Celliniland - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:29 pm:

    ==I tried searching for “Chicago Cubs” and was directed to a site that claimed the Cubs had won more World Series championships than any other team in mlb. ==

    Apparently that site forgot about the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:33 pm:

    ===alternative===

    With alternative facts?

    Are you sure this Ricketts thingy is… good?

    - Stuck in Celliniland -

    I’m 81.9% sure it was snark as Ricketts’ site seems to be peddling in alternative facts.


  33. - Dave C - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 3:42 pm:

    - Stuck in Celliniland -

    When a comment ends with /s they are implying their comment is snark or sarcasm.

    -Suburban Mom-
    Is your name Karen, by chance? :)


  34. - Stuck in Celliniland - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 5:55 pm:

    ==“Undercover Boss, where they worked incognito at Wrigley Field.”==

    I wonder if 20 years ago the Ligue family also worked incognito at Wrigley Field. Then “relaxed” by crashing New Comiskey and attacking Royals pitching coaches one night.


  35. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 6:10 pm:

    ===I wonder if 20 years ago…===

    No matter what name you use, using, are gonna use… partaking in adult beverages or partaking in legalized… refraining from “wondering” aloud is sound advice.

    Tough to see an assault on a coach has comedy to it… or a thought how one would fall on it with a Ricketts website…


  36. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Nov 29, 22 @ 6:57 pm:

    I cannot stand Mr Ricketts or the Disneylandesque reno of
    Wrigley after the sell off after 2016.

    The Weiner’s Circle has him pegged.

    That is all.


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