Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Flashback: 5 Times Google Displayed Political Bias

Following Breitbart News’ recent reporting of a leaked Google “TGIF” meeting in which Google executives and employees displayed a left-leaning political bias, Breitbart has decided to recap some of our previous reporting on Google’s bias.

Breitbart News has reported on Google’s anti-Trump bias for some time now. The leaked internal video from Google’s all-hands meeting following the election of President Trump only confirmed reports of a pervasive left-leaning culture throughout Google. Here are a few times that Google has displayed open bias, not just within the company, but within its own products.

1: Google listed “nazism” as the ideology of the California Republican Party

Due to Google’s reliance on Wikipedia to easily provide immediate information in search results, Google listed “Nazism” as an ideology of the California Republican Party. In May of this year, when searching for details on the California Republican Party, one of Google’s “knowledge” boxes would appear to provide basic information about the subject. This information is gathered from Wikipedia which has been proven in the past to be frequently edited with incorrect information, commonly called “vandalism.”

The “knowledge” box for the California Republican Party listed “Nazism, Conservatism, Market liberalism, fiscal conservatism, green conservatism,” as ideologies of the Republican party. The issue was brought to notice by House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Google responded to the error via Twitter.

We regret that vandalism on Wikipedia briefly appeared on our search results. This was not the the result of a manual change by Google. We have systems in place that catch vandalism before it impacts search results, but occasionally errors get through, and that happened here.

— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) May 31, 2018

This would have been fixed systematically once we processed the removal from Wikipedia, but when we noticed the vandalism we worked quickly to accelerate the removal of the erroneous information.

— Google Communications (@Google_Comms) May 31, 2018

2: Alphabet’s former Chairman worked directly with the Clinton campaign according to WikiLeaks

Erich Schmidt, the former chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, reportedly worked directly with the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election while still with Alphabet. Schmidt expressed his desire to work with the Clinton presidential campaign in documents published by the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks. The emails between Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook show that Schmidt met with Podesta and was interested in assuming the role of “head outside advisor.”

“I met with Eric Schmidt tonight,” wrote Podesta. “As David reported, he’s ready to fund, advise recruit talent, etc. He was more deferential on structure than I expected. Wasn’t pushing to run through one of his existing firms. Clearly wants to be head outside advisor, but didn’t seem like he wanted to push others out.” Podesta further pushes Mook to meet with Schmidt, writing, “He’s still in DC tomorrow and would like to meet with you if you are in DC in the afternoon. I think it’s worth doing. You around? If you are, and want to meet with him, maybe the four of us can get on the phone in the am.”

Schmidt was also instrumental in the formation of “The Groundwork,” an online startup company that aimed to place Hillary Clinton in the White House. The Groundwork was the highest paid tech service company to the Clinton campaign, receiving $136,131 during the third quarter and $313,349 through the first 9 months of 2015.

3: Google appeared to manipulate search results in favor of Hillary Clinton

A report from psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein alleged that Google manipulated search results related to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election that had the potential to “shift as many as 3 million votes” according to Dr. Epstein. Epstein, along with his colleagues at the American Institute for Behavioral Research (AIBRT), became interested in a video published by Matt Lieberman of Sourcefed which claimed that Google searches suppressed negative information about Hillary Clinton while other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo showed accurate results.

Epstein and AIBRT tested hundreds of different search terms related to the 2016 election, using Yahoo and Bing search as a control. Epstein’s report stated:

It is somewhat difficult to get the Google search bar to suggest negative searches related to Mrs. Clinton or to make any Clinton-related suggestions when one types a negative search term. Bing and Yahoo, on the other hand, often show a number of negative suggestions in response to the same search terms. Bing and Yahoo seem to be showing us what people are actually searching for; Google is showing us something else — but what, and for what purpose?

As for Google Trends, as Lieberman reported, Google indeed withholds negative search terms for Mrs. Clinton even when such terms show high popularity in Trends. We have also found that Google often suggests positive search terms for Mrs. Clinton even when such terms are nearly invisible in Trends. The widely held belief, reinforced by Google’s own documentation, that Google’s search suggestions are based on “what other people are searching for” seems to be untrue in many instances.

Google tries to explain away such findings by saying its search bar is programmed to avoid suggesting searches that portray people in a negative light. As far as we can tell, this claim is false; Google suppresses negative suggestions selectively, not across the board. It is easy to get autocomplete to suggest negative searches related to prominent people, one of whom happens to be Mrs. Clinton’s opponent.

Epstein then hypothesized that Google directly altered search results in an attempt to influence the 2016 election,

Without whistleblowers or warrants, no one can prove Google executives are using digital shenanigans to influence elections, but I don’t see how we can rule out that possibility. There is nothing illegal about manipulating people using search suggestions and search rankings — quite the contrary, in fact — and it makes good financial sense for a company to use every legal means at its disposal to support its preferred candidates.

Dr. Epstein stated that despite being a Clinton supporter he didn’t think it would be, “right for her to win the presidency because of the invisible, large-scale manipulations of a private company. That would make democracy meaningless.”

4: Google employees worked to damage Breitbart’s ad revenue

Current and former Google employees confirmed to Breitbart in February of this year that leftists at the company were actively working to damage Breitbart’s advertising revenue. In leaked screenshots obtained by Breitbart News, Google ad account manager Aidan Wilks can be seen advising a client of Google’s that advertising on Breitbart may impact their “brand safety.”
Wilkes then linked the client to Sleeping Giants, a far-left organization which has repeatedly targeted Breitbart News and other conservative websites with false claims of racism and bigotry. In the same screenshots, another Google employee named Matthew Rivard can be seen telling the client that Wilkes email was a “nice template” for those who wished to “call out” the issue to other clients.

Harmeet Dhillon, the Republican national committeewoman for the California GOP and attorney for James Damore, commented on the screenshots stating: “This communication from Google’s advertising department raises troubling questions about whether the company’s ideological bias extends beyond the employment claims covered in our lawsuit, to Google’s business practices toward AdWords publisher users as well,” said Dhillon.

“If there are indeed concerted efforts at Google to undermine the advertising revenue of disfavored publishers (an allegation YouTube is already facing in court through its abrupt demonetization of Prager University videos), then this conduct may give rise to additional legal claims. At a minimum, AdSense users may question whether they are being targeted for secret blacklisting as described here,” Dhillon continued.

5: Google censored PragerU’s educational YouTube videos on multiple topics

In 2017, PragerU brought a lawsuit against Google alleging that the tech company’s YouTube division was violating the First Amendment by censoring free speech. PragerU, which was founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager and produces short, graphics-based videos relating to conservatism, claimed in their lawsuit that “Google/YouTube uses their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU.”

Many of PragerU’s videos were placed in “restricted mode” by YouTube, which makes the videos unavailable to be shown in schools and libraries and places a warning on videos stating that they are restricted. In 2016, PragerU attempted to deal with their issues with YouTube outside of court, writing on their Facebook page that they had “worked quietly behind the scenes for months to resolve this, but YouTube’s censorship continues, leaving us with no option but to go public.” PragerU then asked users to sign a petition demanding that YouTube stop blocking the videos. “There is no excuse for Google and YouTube censoring and restricting any PragerU videos, which are produced with the sole intent of educating people of all ages about America’s founding values,” PragerU stated.

Google initially declined to comment on the lawsuit but has since issued the following statement.

YouTube is an open platform and, to make it a great place for users, creators and advertisers, we provide different choices and settings. Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a small subset of users to filter out videos that may include sensitive or mature content. Giving viewers the choice to opt in to a more restricted experience is not censorship. In fact, this is exactly the type of tool that Congress has encouraged online services to provide for parents and others interested in a more family-friendly experience online.

Google’s reply in no way explains why content by PragerU is targeted while similar content from liberal creators is not. For instance, PragerU’s video titled “Are 1 in 5 women in college raped?” is restricted while an episode of Real Time With Bill Maher about the documentary The Hunting Ground, which specifically investigated the issue of rape on American college campuses, is entirely unrestricted — as is a video of pop singer Lady Gaga singing about rape. An interview with former Vice President Joe Biden discussing campus rape is also unrestricted on the platform. All of this content deals with the same issue in varying manners, yet only PragerU’s video is restricted.

this week, the leaked video from Google’s TGIF meeting has appeared to prove that within the company, a culture of left-leaning politics and anti-conservative bias has developed. The question is whether or not Google will continue to display this bias so openly following the public reaction to the leaked footage.

Lucas Nolan

More From: Lucas Nolan
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