Flashback: Google’s History of Dodging Congress

The Associated Press
Jose Luis Magana/AP

A recent investigation by Project Veritas revealed a number of insights into how executives at Google think about regulation and shed light on lies told by Google CEO Sundar Pichai before Congress.

In 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee under oath, but now it seems that a recent investigation by Project Veritas has proven some of Pichai’s statements to be false or misleading. Project Veritas’ recent exposé shows a Google executive, Jen Gennai, discussing how Google might prevent an electoral outcome like the 2016 election of Donald Trump from happening again and contradicts some of what Pichai stated in 2018.

In the undercover video, Gennai states:

We all got screwed over in 2016, again it wasn’t just us, it was, the people got screwed over, the news media got screwed over, like, everybody got screwed over so we’re rapidly been like, happened there and how do we prevent it from happening again.

We’re also training our algorithms, like, if 2016 happened again, would we have, would the outcome be different?

Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google. And like, I love her but she’s very misguided, like that will not make it better it will make it worse, because all these smaller companies who don’t have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation, it’s like a small company cannot do that.

According to this statement, Google executives are actively working to prevent another “Trump situation,” but Pichai stated in 2018 that the company is led “without political bias.” Breitbart News senior tech reporter Allum Bokhari tackled this claim in 2018 stating:

There are at least two ways this statement can be interpreted. First, Pichai may be referring to his personal lack of political biases. Second, he may be referring to the lack of bias in Google’s product.

On both interpretations, Pichai wasn’t telling the truth. Breitbart News put Pichai’s biases on display for the world with our publication of a leaked 1-hour video of the Google CEO and other company executives dismayed reactions to Donald Trump’s win in 2016. In it, Pichai and his colleagues applauded an employee’s far-left racist rant about “white privilege,” and promised to respond to the election result by promising to tackle “misinformation” by investing in A.I. So there’s no doubt that Pichai himself isn’t free of political bias.

And his product isn’t free of it either. Earlier this year, Breitbart revealed that Google’s ad services team contacted advertisers to warn them away from Breitbart News. Just yesterday, Breitbart revealed that the company’s director of monetization kept a close watch on this website following the company’s “fake news kick-off discussion.” In the past year alone, Google has banned alternative media figures and free speech apps from its services, and refused service to both Republican senator-elect Marsha Blackburn in the U.S. midterm race and Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy in Canada.

Perhaps the starkest evidence of Google’s bias is its decision to allow Wikipedia, a site dominated by far-left propaganda, a privileged position in its search results and YouTube video descriptions.

Gennai’s comments would appear to back up Bokhari’s explanation. In another comment, Gennai states that Google refused to appear before Congress multiple times because “we’re not going to change our mind,” on key issues.

We got called in front of Congress multiple times, so we’ve not shown up because we know that they’re just going to attack us. We’re not going to change our, we’re not going to change our mind. There’s no use sitting there being attacked over something we know we’re not going to change. They can pressure us but we’re not changing. But we also have to be aware of what they’re doing and what they’re accusing us of.

Google has refused to appear before Congress up until Pichai’s testimony, a move which may have brought the company under greater scrutiny. In 2018 Adam Goldberg, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based communications firm Trident DMG, commented on Google’s absence from a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee stating: “After investing so much in lobbying the last several years, this is bizarre. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu, and Congress looks hungry.”

An insider at Google also described to Project Veritas how the company plans to downrank conservative content, especially on YouTube where many conservative and centrist commentators discuss their views and opinions. The insider stated:

…They described that they were going to have more content filtering, and right after that happened a lot of the content creators started to get demonetized, and their videos started to get deranked. I’m talking about Dave Rubin, I’m talking about Carpe Diem, I’m talking about Tim Pool, and a lot of the other content creators that are within YouTube ecosystem just saw their, their view counts just go through the floor.

So, Google is targeting what they consider rightwing news commentators so that includes Tim Pool, Dave Rubin, Steven Crowder, and a host of other right wing people that they are coming in and they’re deciding that they don’t want these opinions to have a wide appeal. And so they’re coming in and they’re putting their thumb down, and they’re deciding which content the users are allowed to see.

They’re playing narrative control. And what they’re doing it is they’re applying their human, the human component, which is they’re going through – with an army people – and they are manually intervening, and removing your content from, from their servers, and they are saying that the algorithms did it. And in that case for the high profile people, it’s not just ML Fairness that you guys have to worry about, it’s actual people that have their head filled with this SJW mindset, they’re going through and removing the content because it – because they don’t agree with it.

But Pichai stated during his testimony that Google does not manually alter search algorithms or prevent users from seeing certain content, something which the Google insider now states the company does regularly. From Breitbart News’ article in 2018:

“Now, manipulation of search results,” said Lofgren. “I think it’s important to talk about how search works. Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up, I just did that. How would that happen? How does search work so that that would occur?”

Pichai replied: “We provide search today, any time you type in a keyword we — as Google — we crawl, we’ve gone out and crawled and stored billions of copies of billions of pages in our index and we take the keyword and match it against webpages and rank them based on our two hundred signals, things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it and based on that, at any given time we try to rank and find the best results for that query. And then we evaluate them with external raters to make sure — and they evaluate it to objective guidelines — and that’s how we make sure the process is working.”

Lofgren replied: “So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the users, basically a compilation of what users are generating and trying to sort through that information.” Pichai replied: “Last year we server over three trillion searches and just as a fact, every single day fifteen percent of the searches Google sees, we have never seen them before. So this is working at scale so we don’t manually intervene on any particular search result.” [emphasis ours]

An even more striking example of Google’s manual manipulation of search results was uncovered by Bokhari earlier this year, in which YouTube searches for abortion and other topics were heavily manipulated by the company to suit progressive politics. One employee described the manipulation of abortion-related searches, with a goal of minimizing the pro-life content at the top of search results, as “smoking gun” to prove the company’s political bias.

These latest comments from Gennai and the information provided by the Google insider will likely place extra scrutiny on the tech firm going forward. Gennai’s comments stating that the company has no plans to listen to anything said by Congress are not likely going to be unnoticed by Congress members going forward — making any future hearings featuring Google more interesting.

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


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