Google – which was exposed trying to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election, and who were beside themselves after she lost – discussed whether to bury conservative media outlets in the company’s search function after Donald Trump became president, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation‘s Peter Hasson.
Internal communications obtained by the Caller reveal that The Daily Caller and Breitbart were specifically singled out for potential censorship.
Communications obtained by TheDCNF show that internal Google discussions went beyond expressing remorse over Clinton’s loss to actually discussing ways Google could prevent Trump from winning again.
“This was an election of false equivalencies, and Google, sadly, had a hand in it,” Google engineer Scott Byer wrote in a Nov. 9, 2016, post reviewed by TheDCNF.
Byer falsely labeled The Daily Caller and Breitbart as “opinion blogs” and urged his coworkers to reduce their visibility in search results.
“How many times did you see the Election now card with items from opinion blogs (Breitbart, Daily Caller) elevated next to legitimate news organizations? That’s something that can and should be fixed,” Byer wrote.
“I think we have a responsibility to expose the quality and truthfulness of sources – because not doing so hides real information under loud noises,” he continued.
“Beyond that, let’s concentrate on teaching critical thinking. A little bit of that would go a long way. Let’s make sure that we reverse things in four years – demographics will be on our side.” –DCNF
Not all Google employees agreed with the notion of censoring conservative outlets; engineer Uri Dekel – a self-described Clinton supporter, argued that manipulating search results was the wrong approach.
“Thinking that Breitbart, Drudge, etc. are not ‘legitimate news sources’ is contrary to the beliefs of a major portion of our user base is partially what got us to this mess. MSNBC is not more legit than Drudge just because Rachel Maddow may be more educated / less deplorable / closer to our views, than, say Sean Hannity,” Dekel wrote Byer in a reply, adding “I follow a lot of right wing folks on social networks you could tell something was brewing. We laughed off Drudge’s Instant Polls and all that stuff, but in the end, people go to those sources because they believe that the media doesn’t do it’s job. I’m a Hillary supporter and let’s admit it, the media avoided dealing with the hard questions and issues, which didn’t pay off. By ranking ‘legitimacy’ you’ll just introduce more conspiracy theories”
Another engineer, Mike Brauwerman, suggested that the company could avoid “accusations of conspiracy or bias” by using technology to “trace information to its source, to link to critiques of these sources, and let people decide what sources they believe.”
“Give people a comprehensive but effectively summarized view of the information, not context-free rage-inducing sound-byte,” added Brauwerman.
Other Google employees also advocated for providing context to sources in order to “help” users consume information. Unfortunately, the search giant’s solution was to employ fact-checking organizations with a liberal bias that “target conservative outlets almost exclusively,” according to the Caller. Google eventually pulled their fact-checkers in January, crediting an investigation by the Daily Caller in their decision.
Google claims that the email conversation did not lead to the manipulation of search results for political purposes.
“This post shows that far from suppressing Breitbart and Daily Caller, we surfaced these sites regularly in our products. Furthermore, it shows that we value providing people with the full view on stories from a variety of sources,” the spokeswoman told TheDCNF in an email.
“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology. Our processes and policies do not allow for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.” –DCNF
Right – then why does a Google search for “Idiot” return pictures of the Trump family, while the same search in DuckDuckGo is completely different:
This isn’t the first time Google employees have sought to alter search results either:
After Trump announced his initial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways to manipulate search results in order to push back against the president’s order.
A group of employees brainstormed ways to counter “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc,” as well as “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”
Meanwhile, President Trump suggested to the Daily Caller in September that Google and Facebook are trying to manipulate election outcomes.
“I think they already have,” said Trump. “I mean the true interference in the last election was that — if you look at all, virtually all of those companies are super liberal companies in favor of Hillary Clinton,” he added.
“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at social media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side.”