During a recent senate hearing, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) grilled Google’s vice president of global government affairs and public policy on online censorship, particularly singling out attempts to censor Breitbart News.
During a recent hearing on Goole bias before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) grilled Google’s vice president of global government affairs and public policy Karan Bhatia. Blackburn specifically focused on Google’s bias towards conservatives and questioned whether or not Google specifically has demonstrated a bias towards Breitbart News.
Blackburn questioned Bhatia in an initial statement, saying: “On Monday you claimed in an op-ed that Google is not politically biased, yet you acknowledge that Google took down or limited the reach of conservative content accounts and only did so mistakenly. If you want us to believe that Google is an equal opportunity search engine and not an equal opportunity offender, let me clarify exactly what an equal playing field would look like for you all at Google. Google should equally promote video recording in its search results whether the article is from CNN or Fox News, do you agree?”
Bhatia replied: “We have both CNN and Fox News in our news corpus,” to which Blackburn posed another question asking: “Should Google equally promote news articles in search results whether the article be from the Huffington Post or Breitbart?”
Bhatia did not give a direct response, instead saying: “We serve the results that are most responsive.” Blackburn continued, asking: “Should YouTube equally promote videos from Diamond and Silk at the same time as videos from Jon Oliver?” Bhatia repeated: “Again, both are in the corpus both get served depending on what’s most repsonsive”
Blackburn then referenced a Breitbart News report from December 2018, stating: “In December 2018, reports surfaced that Google employees sought to block Breitbart from Google AdSense less than one month after President Trump took office. Google employees sought to use quote-unquote, “hate speech” as a pretense for banning Breitbart from taking part, the emails show. Ultimately these Google employees did not succeed in their efforts to censor Breitbart. Has your advertising platform ever enacted policies that tended to favor certain viewpoints over others?”
Bhatia said: “No, Madam Senator we don’t use political indicia to influence our ads,” to which Blackburn asked: “Has Google ever blacklisted or attempted to blacklist a company, group, individual or outlet from its advertising partners or search results for political reasons?” Bhatia repeated: “No, ma’am, we don’t use blacklists, whitelists, to influence our search results.”