Wow. According to intercompany communications obtained by The Daily Caller, in response to President Trump’s 2016 win, Google employees debated burying TDC and other conservative news outlets in its search results.
Purportedly, Breitbart and TDC were specifically listed as candidates.
As per the report, Google staffers were stunned by Trump’s win, and discussion occurred over how to prevent The Donald from clinching 2020.
In a November 9, 2016, Google engineer Scott Byer blamed the search engine for letting people know things:
“This was an election of false equivalencies, and Google, sadly, had a hand in it.”
That darned information. Scott proposed squashing it:
“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.”
Oddly, Scott thought hiding results would be the “responsible” thing to do:
“I think we have a responsibility to expose the quality and truthfulness of sources – because not doing so hides real information under loud noises.”
Scott’s all about thinking critically, which would, of course, mean being left-wing:
“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.”
In Google’s defense, not everyone was a psycho. Among the interoffice communication, I give you employee Uri Dekel:
“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. … 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.”
“Too many times, Breitbart is just echoing a demonstrably made up story.”
More from The Daily Caller:
“What I believe we can do, technically, that avoids the accusations of conspiracy or bias from people who ultimately have a right and obligation to decide what they want to believe, is to get better at displaying the ‘ripples’ and copy-pasta, to trace information to its source, to link to critiques of those sources, and let people decide what sources they believe,” another Google engineer, Mike Brauwerman, suggested.
“Give people a comprehensive but effectively summarized view of the information, not context-free rage-inducing sound-bytes,” he added.
“We’re working on providing users with context around stories so that they can know the bigger picture,” chimed in David Besbris, vice president of engineering at Google.
“We can play a role in providing the full story and educate them about all sides. This doesn’t have to be filtering and can be useful to everyone,” he wrote.
Other employees similarly advocated providing contextual information about media sources in search results, and the company later did so with a short-lived fact check at the end of 2017.
Not only did the fact-check feature target conservative outlets almost exclusively, it was also blatantly wrong. Google’s fact check repeatedly attributed false claims to those outlets, even though they demonstrably never made those claims.
TDC says Google claims to have eliminated its aberrant fact-check program in January.
And the company explained that there were no political biases:
A Google spokeswoman said that the conversation did not lead to manipulation of search results for political purposes.
However, there was also this:
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.”
As we all know, according to the sensibilities of many left-wingers, “phobic” words sometimes just mean “conservative.” And language is a particular tool of their side of the aisle (here, here, and here). So when search engine corporations start playing with results, look out, Jack.
Find all my RedState work here.
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