Google’s search engine is more powerful in shaping politics than the tech company claims. Researchers found that the algorithm used by the leading search site in the world heavily favors Democratic candidates and the programming of the algorithm is a trade-secret.
Robert Epstein and Robert E. Robertson, a researcher at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and a professor at Northeastern University respectively, conducted an experiment in the months before the 2016 election. What they found was “stunning,” according to The Washington Times: “Google searches returned twice as many pro-Hillary Clinton news articles as Yahoo searches.” Additionally, pro-Clinton articles were heavily filtered to men and residents of blue states more so than women and residents of red states. In all cases, Clinton was the obvious favorite over Donald Trump.
The Times summarizes the researchers’ quest:
Mr. Epstein and Mr. Robertson, in their research, looked at 4,045 election-related searches on Google and Yahoo during a 25-day period from mid-October through Election Day. They found that the pro-Clinton articles swamped pro-Trump news.
“The algorithms are not programmed with an equal time rule,” said Mr. Epstein, a vocal Clinton supporter. “They are programmed to put one thing ahead of another in a way that is highly secret and ever-changing.”
He said his experiments show the power of news searches to affect politics and has found that he could boost support for a candidate by as much as 63 percent after just one Google search session. That is based on five experiments Mr. Epstein ran in two countries in which study participants changed their opinions of a candidate based on a manipulated search engine. He has dubbed this the “search engine manipulation effect.”
A late-2015 study by Nicholas Diakopoulos discovered similar results. He Google-searched all 16 presidential candidates and watched the results land heavily in favor of the Democrats versus the Republicans. Clinton alone received five positive search results on the first page and only one negative. Trump, on the other hand, had four positive results and three negative results on the first page. As for other candidates, a search for Bernie Sanders resulted in nine positive results and — drumroll — ZERO negative results. Contrast that with Ted Cruz, who received ZERO positive results. Diakopoulos also found that Google’s news box — which has since been removed — favored left-wing outlets and out of 113 of them, Google only referenced one conservative source, Fox News — and even then, it was only one percent of the time.
While Google will claim that its algorithm can’t distinguish between liberal and conservative and calculates results based on “relevance” and “diversity,” it appears, at least to conservatives, quite biased. That’s probably because the people who are programming the algorithm are biased. That’s no surprise; just follow the money.
The Times listed where Google’s money and other favors go when elections are on the line. Here’s a summary:
- Google holding company Alphabet Inc. donated nearly $1.6 million to Clinton, and $359,000 to Bernie Sanders. Trump got a paltry $23,000.
- 63% of Alphabet’s 2016 contributions were given to Democrats. Only 22% went to the GOP, and 12% to independents.
- Clinton staffers were loaned the Google jet on multiple occasions.
Google also loved Barack Obama, as The Times noted:
The Obama administration also built deep links with Google, where 22 former White House officials worked, while 31 Google executives went to work for the White House or were appointed to federal advisory boards, including the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, according to a study by the Campaign for Accountability.
In total, nearly 250 people shuttled from government service to Google or vice versa during the Obama administration.
The same study found that Google representatives attended White House meetings more than once a week, on average, from the start of the Obama presidency through October 2015. During that same period, Google lobbyists visited the White House 128 times, the most of any lobbyist during that time.
Scott Cleland, who authored a book about Google, was quoted as saying, “These companies are shockingly political. They are the gatekeepers of all the world’s information, and everything they do has a political angle to it.”
This phenomenon isn’t limited to Google, either. It’s widespread across social media platforms, as well. Facebook was criticized during the campaign for stacking its trending feed with pro-Democrat stories. But what else can you expect from the company whose COO, Sheryl Sandberg, gushed on Clinton to John Podesta in an e-mail exchange released by WikiLeaks:
“I want HRC to win badly,” Ms. Sandberg said in one missive. In a later email, she told Mr. Podesta she was looking forward to working with him “to elect the first woman President of the United States” and she was “thrilled” by the progress Mrs. Clinton was making.
And then, there’s Twitter, which recently blocked an ad by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) because she mentioned Planned Parenthood’s pension for selling aborted baby parts. They eventually released the hold on the ad, but only after backlash mounted.
The censorship of conservatism is full-tilt and sprawled across multiple platforms. As technology policy specialist Seton Motley puts it: “The damage being done to conservatives is almost incalculable. If network television media bias can give a candidate a 4- to 6-point advantage and social media giants have more power than the networks, can we even quantify a number?”