5 Times Google Manipulated Search, YouTube, and News Results

Noogler Hat for new Google employees
Flickr/ banky177

Following recent reports that Google employees plotted to alter search results but didn’t take action, Breitbart News thought it best to recap some of the times that Google actually manipulated search results.

Breitbart News reporter Allum Bokhari reported recently that following the introduction of President Trump’s temporary travel ban, Google employees plotted to alter search results to oppose the President’s policies.

Bokhari writes:

Google employees brainstormed ways to tweak the tech giant’s search functions to encourage users to push back against Trump policies following the President’s proposed travel ban on certain countries in 2017, according to a report on Tucker Carlson Tonight that was also confirmed by the Wall Street Journal. 

…Google did not deny the existence of the emails, but insisted that none of the ideas discussed were ever acted upon.

“These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology—not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

While this news may be shocking to many, Breitbart News has been reporting Google’s many algorithm alterations and search result changes for some time. Here are some examples of when Google appeared to alter search results for a specific agenda.

1: Search results for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election

Research from Dr. Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology showed that Google appeared to favor positive autocomplete search results relating to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, even when search terms critical of Clinton were actually more popular at the time. Epstein’s report revealed that Google manipulated search results related to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election that had the potential to “shift as many as 3 million votes” according to Epstein.

Epstein along with his colleagues at the American Institute for Behavioral Research (AIBRT) became interested in a video published by Matt Lieberman of Sourcefed which claimed that Google searches suppressed negative information about Hillary Clinton while other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo showed accurate results.

Epstein and AIBRT tested hundreds of different search terms related to the 2016 election, using Yahoo and Bing search as a control. Epstein’s report stated:

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 then hypothesized that Google directly altered search results in an attempt to influence the 2016 election:

Without whistleblowers or warrants, no one can prove Google executives are using digital shenanigans to influence elections, but I don’t see how we can rule out that possibility. There is nothing illegal about manipulating people using search suggestions and search rankings — quite the contrary, in fact — and it makes good financial sense for a company to use every legal means at its disposal to support its preferred candidates.

2: Searches for the word “idiot” returned many pictures of President Trump

Breitbart News recently reported that Google Image searches for the term “idiot” returned a number of pictures of President Trump, with the President featuring in the top 5 search results. Google explained the search results by stating: “Protesters are publishing articles on their own platforms which associate the word ‘idiot’ with Trump, as well as sharing and upvoting articles which do the same.” The company added that the “net effect of this is that the association inside Google’s algorithm becomes stronger, producing photos of Trump when people input the term.”
The President himself called out Google on their allegedly biased search results in a tweet:

3: Google News favors left-wing, mainstream publications

Breitbart News reporter Charlie Nash wrote in August that an investigation by PJ Media revealed that left-wing mainstream publications dominate Google News search results while other popular conservative outlets are ignored.

Nash writes:

PJ Media discovered that left-wing news outlets appear in Google News search results most frequently, with most popular conservative outlets completely absent from the list.

CNN dominated the search results for “Trump,” “with nearly twice as many results returned as the second-place finisher, the Washington Post.”

“Other left-leaning outlets also fared well, including NBC, CNBC, The Atlantic, and Politico,” PJ Media reported, adding that the “only right-leaning sites to appear in the top 100 were The Wall Street Journal and Fox News with 3 and 2 results respectively.”
“PJ Media did not appear in the first 100 results,” they continued. “Nor did National Review, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, Hot Air, Townhall, Red State, or any other conservative-leaning sites except the two listed above.”

PJ Media writer Paula Bolyard, who conducted the test, claimed she was “not prepared for the blatant prioritization of left-leaning and anti-Trump media outlets.”

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.

Nearly all major conservative publications were absent from Google News search results including Breitbart News, the New York Post, the Daily Caller, PJ Media, and Independent Journal Review.

4: YouTube buries Ann Coulter interview clip, favors mainstream outlets

In a case similar to the Google News situation, Google-owned video hosting website YouTube buried an appearance by conservative columnist Ann Coulter below multiple videos published by mainstream news outlets. Even when searching for a particular YouTube video by its exact title, similarly themed videos from mainstream sources will be ranked above the titled video due to YouTube’s new search algorithm. The video used to test this was a clip of conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s recent appearance on C-Span which was titled “How Trump Should Deal With Cohen & Manafort – Ann Coulter.”

When this exact title was placed into YouTube’s search function, 22 other videos were listed ahead of the C-Span clip. The other videos relating to Cohen and Manafort and were published by the likes of CBS, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, the Washington Post and multiple other mainstream outlets. The screenshot below from InformationLiberation.com shows just how far a YouTube viewer would have to scroll down to find the C-Span clip.

In comparison to YouTube, Google Videos — which has yet to receive an updated algorithm to rank “trusted sources” higher in search results — appears to show the C-Span clip of Coulter first in search rankings while the three other videos suggested are similar videos from independent YouTuber’s discussing the issues raised by Coulter.

5: Google has plans to launch a censored search engine in China

Showing that Google has no issue with censorship if it benefits them, it was recently revealed that the company plans to launch a Chinese-government censored search engine in China.

The Intercept reported that Internet titan Google has plans to launch a censored search engine in China that will blacklist access to certain websites and restrict search terms related to human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, according to leaked documents.

The Google project, codenamed Dragonfly, has been in development since the Spring of 2017, and was accelerated in December 2017, following a meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and top Chinese government officials. Google engineers have created custom apps named “Maotai” and “Longfei,” which have already been demonstrated for Chinese officials and could be launched within the next six to nine months.

Currently, Google’s search service cannot be accessed in China, meaning that the company is missing out on quite a large ad market, something which this new project likely hopes to fix. China employs a digital censorship system known as the “Great Firewall of China” that prevents citizens from accessing websites such as Google and Facebook, it would appear that Google’s new search engine will comply with strict Chinese censorship laws in order to operate within the country.

China blocks a large amount of information from their citizens such as political information, certain elements of Chinese history and other free speech related topics. The Chinese social media website Weibo is one of the most popular online platforms in the country — that platform blocks information topics such as “anti-communism,” authoritarian related novels such as George Orwell’s 1984, and much more.

According to the Intercept, Google’s new search engine will automatically detect websites blocked in the country and censor them, the search engine will also “blacklist sensitive queries” so that “no results will be shown.” A source that informed the Intercept about the program stated:

“I’m against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people, and feel like transparency around what’s being done is in the public interest.” The source stated that they feared “what is done in China will become a template for many other nations.”

These are just some examples of Google’s alleged bias in their search engine results and given the recent leaks from the company showing their open disdain for President Trump and plots to oppose his agenda, it’s not so far fetched to think that employees could be altering the information that users see to fit their own political agenda.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.