by WorldTribune Staff, November 30, 2018
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s election victory, Google employees debated whether to downgrade conservative media outlets in the company’s search function to guard against a Trump repeat in 2020, a report said.
“Internal Google discussions went beyond expressing remorse over Clinton’s loss to actually discussing ways Google could prevent Trump from winning again,” The Daily Caller reported on Nov. 29.
Communications obtained by the Daily Caller show Google engineer Scott Byer falsely labeling conservative news outlets as “opinion blogs” and urging his co-workers to reduce the outlets’ visibility in search results.
“I think we have a responsibility to expose the quality and truthfulness of sources – because not doing so hides real information under loud noises,” Byer said. “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.”
However, communications from Google engineer Uri Dekel, who identified himself as a Clinton supporter argued against manipulating search results.
“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 in a reply to Byer.
“I follow a lot of right wing folks on social networks you could tell something was brewing,” Dekel wrote. “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.”
Byer replied: “Too many times, Breitbart is just echoing a demonstrably made up story.” He did not cite any examples.
The Daily Caller’s report also noted that, after Trump had 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.”
Trump speculated to The Daily Caller in September that Google and Facebook were trying to affect election outcomes.
“I think they already have,” Trump said, responding to questions about potential election interference by Google and Facebook.
“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,” Trump said.