Google employees internally debated whether or not to suppress the influence of conservative media on their search engine in response to the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, the Daily Caller News Foundation reports.
Internal documents obtained by the Daily Caller revealed discussions about how, in the words of one engineer, to “make sure that we reverse things in four years.”
The report said the Daily Caller and Breitbart were “specifically singled out” as potential targets of a campaign to suppress the influence of conservative media.
The Daily Caller said the documents “show that internal Google discussions went beyond expressing remorse over [Hillary] 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.
He “falsely labeled” the Daily Caller and other conservative news organizations as “opinion blogs.” And he advocated suppressing their stories in search engine 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 challenged. “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 stated: “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.”
The report said another Google engineer, Uri Dekel, “identified himself as a Clinton supporter but argued that manipulating search results was the wrong route to take.”
Dekel wrote: “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 (sic) 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.”
The Daily Caller reported another Google employee, Mike Brauwerman, said, “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.”
Such work already was being done, confirmed David Besbris, vice president of engineering, the Daily Caller said.
“We’re working on providing users with context around stories so that they can know the bigger picture,” he said.
But, the Daily Caller said the company’s efforts were biased.
“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,” the Daily Caller reported.
In response to questions from the Daily Caller, a Google spokeswoman claimed: “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.”
Joseph Farah, CEO of WND, has described Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Amazon and other tech giants as the “Speech Code Cartel.”
“Has anyone seriously considered what the tyranny of these monopoly companies is doing to the ability of our citizens to govern themselves, protect their privacy and sustain institutions like free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion?” he has asked.
“Backed into a corner, last January I went very public with how the cartel was attempting to exterminate the alternative independent media that sprung up in WND’s wake in the last 20 years. They are still determined to snuff us out, I believe, before the next presidential election year of 2020. The only people I could turn to were you – those who came to WND because you recognized what we were doing, what we were about and what our convictions are,” he told readers.
“And most of all, you recognized why it was necessary that this exercise in truth-seeking without fear or favor not be knocked off by a club of spoiled, soulless, pompous, greedy, presumptuous super-billionaires who sought to commit bloodless barbarism never imagined by the most diabolical totalitarian governments in history.
“I realize now the phrase ‘Speech Code Cartel’ doesn’t even come close to capturing the imminent danger this cabal poses to freedom. While the so-called ‘progressives’ carry on about their delusion of Russian intervention in the 2016 election, what’s really happening behind the curtain is the theft of our culture of independence, self-governance, individualism, liberty, privacy, sovereignty, Judeo-Christian morality and, yes, free elections.”