WASHINGTON, DC — A top Google official asserted that “no employee” can manipulate search results based on his or her political beliefs when grilled by the top Republican on a House panel Wednesday about a recently unveiled video depicting bias against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters at the tech firm.
The comments from Derek Slater, the director of information policy at Google, came on the same day that President Trump suggested that the United States should sue the tech giant along with Twitter and Facebook for repressing his message.
“No employee, whether in the lower ranks or up to senior executives, has the ability to manipulate our search results … or our product or our services based on their political ideology,” Slater declared when asked about anti-Trump bias exposed by a video recently released by the conservative group Project Veritas.
The Project Veritas footage depicts Google Executive Jen Gennai saying the tech firm wants to prevent President Trump’s re-election.
I hope everyone reads and watches this video to see the corruption of big tech. @Google should be absolutely ashamed.
Undercover video shows senior Google executive vowing to prevent 'the next Trump situation' https://t.co/UD9B1ZChGH
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) June 25, 2019
Slater’s comments came in response to questions from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the ranking member of the Democrat-controlled House Homeland Security Committee that held the hearing.
Reacting to Slater’s comments after the hearing, Rogers appeared to dismiss Slater’s assertion that Google does not engage in political bias against conservatives, accusing the tech firm of “censorship.”
“Freedom of speech and self-expression is a core American principle. The best way to counter hateful or disgusting speech is with more speech, not censorship,” he told Breitbart News. “Government or corporate regulation will not solve the disagreements in American society, only our citizens’ free speech can do that. Creating echo chambers free of disagreement doesn’t help public discourse, it stifles it.”
Citing Project Veritas video during the hearing, Rogers noted in his opening remarks that he has “serious questions about Google’s ability to be fair and balanced,” adding:
[The video] details alarming claims about Google’s deliberate attempt to alter search results to reflect the reality Google wants to promote rather than objective facts. This [Project Veritas] report, and others like it, are a stark reminder of why the Founders created the First Amendment.
“We are in trouble” if Gennai’s comments to Project Veritas reflect the company’s policy, Rogers also said.
Asked about the video, Slater testified that Google has “a robust system of checks and balances in place” to prevent political bias from plaguing its platform.
“We design and develop our products for everyone,” he claimed, later adding, “We are in the trust business.”
When Rogers further pressed Slater to say if the American people should be concerned about Google’s efforts to push one party over the other, the tech giant’s official reiterated, “We do not allow anyone — lower level, higher level — to manipulate our product in that way.”
“You are very powerful in our country,” the ranking-member acknowledged when addressing the Google official.
Representatives from Google, which owns YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram-owner Facebook, all testified on Wednesday before the House panel hearing focused on examining the tech companies’ efforts to combat terror content and misinformation.
Several assessments suggest Google has manipulated the results of its search engine or at the very least talked about its ability to do so.
The Project Veritas video shows Google Executive Gennai telling undercover investigators:
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?
[Sen.] Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] is saying that we should break up Google … That will not make it better it will make it worse because all these smaller companies that don’t have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation.
In a blog post, Gennai claimed the notion that Google is trying to interfere in the upcoming presidential elections to benefit Democrats “is absolute, unadulterated nonsense.”
The executive alleged that she was only explaining that Google “is working to help prevent the types of online foreign interference that happened in 2016.”
Echoing his colleague, Slater told lawmakers Gennai’s comments were “taken out of context.”