Conservative website Western Journal says that Google filtered the site from its news search tool ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
The Western Journal provided screenshots to Breitbart News that show the site’s disappearance from Google News. Searches for other conservative websites continue to return results, but searches for Western Journal currently do not, despite the fact that the website has a Google News publisher account.
The apparent removal of the site from Google News results coincided with a drop in Google traffic, shortly before the midterm elections.
The CEO of LiftTable media, Western Journal’s parent company, showed Breitbart News an email exchange with Google’s technical support team. After initially saying that the problem had been caused by a technical issue, a Google representative told the CEO that they were “investigating the issue.”
However, Google’s representative then went dark. After eight days and numerous requests for updates from the Western Journal, they have not responded.
This followed a year of leaks for the company that shed light on its political biases, including leaked footage of the tech giant’s executives’ reaction to the 2016 election and and “The Good Censor,” an internal research document admitting that the company has “shifted towards censorship” in response to global political trends. More recently, leaked emails from within Google revealed a plot to strip ad revenue from Breitbart News.
Despite these regular leaks, Google’s CEO told Congress that he leads the company “without political bias.”
Breitbart News reached out to Google for comment on this story.
A Google spokeswoman responded to Breitbart News’ request for comment, stating that the Western Journal has been removed from Google News for “non-original and republished content.”
Our systems detected an unusually large amount of non-original and republished content on The Western Journal, which is a violation of Google News policy. When we detected this behavior, we removed this site from the Google News corpus in adherence to this policy. Our enforcement of policy does not consider the perceived political leanings of a website whatsoever.
Patrick Brown, CEO of Western Journal publishers Liftable Media, responded, saying Google never informed them of the reasons for their decision.
That’s the first we’ve heard of that issue from Google. We do syndicate Associated Press and Daily Caller News Foundation stories on our site, so potentially that’s the issue. However, we’ve never received any message indicating that was an issue, our publisher console still says we are included and indexed in Google News with no warnings, and we’ve been reaching out to Google for many days with them just saying there is some unspecified error, which doesn’t line up at all with their statement.
That would be great if this was a simple fix like making sure associated press was out of our Google news sitemap. However I’m curious if they remove other major websites and give them no indication why for 2 months and only do so when asked for comment from [Breitbart].
We do submit the Daily Caller News Foundation content though, however that would only account for a small percentage of the stories submitted. That content however, is not placed into Google News directly from Daily Caller News Foundation, the only way it can show up is if it is syndicated through other sites like The Western Journal or DailyCaller.com. Our relationship with Daily Caller News Foundation is technically the exact same that DailyCaller.com has with the foundation. So it’s not entirely clear why our publication of it would be considered “re-published” in any way that is against their policies.
And again, this is a small percentage of our content, and we are only finding out about this 2 months after the fact indirectly after being strung along by support for nearly two weeks. I’m fairly certain this is not how Google treats other sites in the top 150 in the United States in terms of viewership.