News, Culture & Society

Google ‘debated punishing high-ranking conservative media outlets’ after Trump won the 2016 election

Google engineers discussed on email changing algorithms to disfavor conservative publications after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, it has been claimed.

The Daily Caller – a conservative website – claimed both their outlet and Breitbart were singled out as sites to potentially bury after some Google employees suggested may not have deserved a prime spot on the search engine’s result.   

According to the publication, on November 9 after Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the White House, liberal employees shared emails that conspired to reduce the search result visibility even if articles contained useful information that would usually be featured prominently. 

The publication claims to have viewed internal emails between Google employees that label the news outlet – founded by Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel in 2010 – an ‘opinion blog,’ which they say is a false statement.

The right-wing Breitbart News Network was also given the same treatment according to The DCNF. 

Google engineers allegedly discussed changing the algorithm of search results in reaction to Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton

 ‘This was an election of false equivalencies, and Google, sadly, had a hand in it,’ engineer Scott Byer wrote, according to DCNF. 

‘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.’

‘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 is said to have 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.’

The DCNF added in their report that even liberal employees spoke up against the suggested action.

One is said to have warned that limiting access to a range of views would only fuel conspiracy theories from the far right and pointed out that the likes of the Drudge Report may have started as small news aggregation operations but are now highly regarded by many.

‘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,’ engineer Uri Dekel is said to have written.

‘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 its 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.’

According to the publication, on November 9 liberal employees shared emails that conspired to reduce the visibility of some websites

According to the publication, on November 9 liberal employees shared emails that conspired to reduce the visibility of some websites

However it’s claimed Byer argued both MSNBC and Brietbart echo ‘made up’ stories and insisted the aim was to ‘break the myth feedback loop, the false equivalency’.

Another Google employee suggested improving the visibility of just original sources instead of displaying a number of articles from websites using the same information, hence flooding the search engine with numerous stories that express the same view.

Engineer Mike Brauwerma is reported to have said a ‘comprehensive but effectively summarized view’ not ‘context-free rage-inducing sound-bytes’ would be more helpful.

Vice president of engineering at Google, David Besbris, chimed in to say he aim was indeed to give people a well-rounded view of the political information available online.

‘We’re working on providing users with context around stories so that they can know the bigger picture,’ he explained according to TheDCNF.

‘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.’

Rachel Maddow

Sean Hannity

One Google engineer reportedly said: ‘MSNBC is not more legit than Drudge just because Rachel Maddow [pictured left] may be more educated / less deplorable / closer to our views, than, say Sean Hannity’ (pictured right)

Google denied that the internal conversations showed they push a liberal agenda.

A representative went as far as saying employees couldn’t change results to their liking due to strict rules they have in place.

‘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 spokesperson emailed after reaching out for comment.

‘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.’ 

President Trump claimed in August that the search engine tried to harm his campaign by only giving ‘fake news’ prominence.

In a Twitter post that has since been deleted he said ‘they are controlling what we can & cannot see’.

‘Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent,’ he posted. ‘Illegal? 96% of … results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!’

He later continued to reporters: ‘Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people and I think that’s a very serious thing and it’s a very serious charge,’ Trump told reporters after a meeting with the president of FIFA. ‘They better be careful because they can’t do that to people.’

At the time Google denied his claim and said in a statement the search results are ‘not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology’. 


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