Tech giant Google has denied President Trump’s recent assertions that Google purposefully manipulates search results with a political bias.
President Trump claimed in a series of tweets today that tech giant Google purposefully alters Google search results to show negative articles about Trump. In his tweets, Trump called the system “rigged” and stated that Google and other tech companies were suppressing the voices of Conservatives and hiding positive news relating to the Trump administration.
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
….results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
Google has since responded to President Trump stating that their search results are not politically biased, but they are actively working to improve their search program:
When users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds. Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.
However, Google’s claims that it is politically unbiased have been disproved by Dr. Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research (AIBRT). In a series of tests, Epstein and his team examined Google’s search feature and performed a number of tests in order to gain a greater insight into the possible bias that the search engine may display.
Epstein initially noted discrepancies in search results for Hillary Clinton:
It is somewhat difficult to get the Google search bar to suggest negative searches related to Mrs. Clinton or to make any Clinton-related suggestions when one types a negative search term. Bing and Yahoo, on the other hand, often show a number of negative suggestions in response to the same search terms. Bing and Yahoo seem to be showing us what people are actually searching for; Google is showing us something else — but what, and for what purpose?
As for Google Trends, as Lieberman reported, Google indeed withholds negative search terms for Mrs. Clinton even when such terms show high popularity in Trends. We have also found that Google often suggests positive search terms for Mrs. Clinton even when such terms are nearly invisible in Trends. The widely held belief, reinforced by Google’s own documentation, that Google’s search suggestions are based on “what other people are searching for” seems to be untrue in many instances.
Google tries to explain away such findings by saying its search bar is programmed to avoid suggesting searches that portray people in a negative light. As far as we can tell, this claim is false; Google suppresses negative suggestions selectively, not across the board. It is easy to get autocomplete to suggest negative searches related to prominent people, one of whom happens to be Mrs. Clinton’s opponent.
Epstein provided the following screenshots as examples of Google’s search bias in comparison to other search engines:
Despite searches for “Hillary Clinton is a liar” trending higher than “Hillary Clinton is awesome” it would appear that Google automatically suggests the term that paints Clinton in a more positive light.
Similarly, searches for “Crooked Hillary” are almost immediately suggested when the word “crooked” is typed into other search engines, but Google does not suggest this term despite it trending highly as a search term:
In a radio interview with Breitbart News, Dr. Epstein discussed the power that tech companies have to shift election results stating that he believes these companies held back in 2016 but may not do so with upcoming elections. He said, “Is democracy dead? Because if it’s true that they have this power, then democracy really is an illusion. I happen to agree with you on a key point, I think that these companies held back to some extent in 2016. They held back on their power to shift votes. I don’t think they’re going to hold back now.”
Beyond Dr. Epstein’s research, Google regularly produces biased search results. For example, in July Breitbart News reported that pictures of President Trump were heavily featured in the Google image search results for “idiot.”
A Breitbart News investigation also discovered this week that Google News search results appeared to be positioning mainstream outlets above conservative ones. Breitbart News’ Charlie Nash wrote in his article:
Breitbart News conducted its own investigation and discovered that over the first five pages of Google News results for “Trump,” CNN was the most listed outlet, being featured twenty times.
This was followed by the New York Times (featured eight times), the Guardian (seven), the Washington Post (seven), the BBC (six), USA Today (five), CNBC (four), HuffPost (three), Financial Times (three), Fox News (three), the Atlantic (three), Vox (two), CBS News (two), and the Wall Street Journal (two).
Business Insider, the Independent, Wired, ESPN, the Daily Beast, NPR, Bloomberg, the Hill, ABC News, NBC News, People Magazine, TIME, Reuters, Vanity Fair, Global News Canada, the Telegraph, FiveThirtyEight, NewsHub, and Factcheck.org were included once throughout the five pages.
Conservative media including Breitbart News, the New York Post, the Daily Caller, PJ Media, and Independent Journal Review were all absent from the Google News search results.
Google has displayed political bias at almost every step, which has only intensified after the election of President Trump according to experts like Dr. Robert Epstein. That the Silicon Valley giant still claims to not introduce bias into its various search products, not to mention its YouTube subsidiary, demonstrates why Breitbart News refers to Google and its cohorts as the “Masters of the Universe.”