According to a report from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, internal emails he obtained showed Google employees sought to manipulate search results to fight Trump’s travel ban.
Just days after the Trump administration passed the order in January 2017, Google employees led by Mackenzie Thomas, a Google product marketing manager, began an email chain “brainstorming” ideas on ways to “actively counter algorithmically biased results” for search terms including “Islam, Iran, Mexico, Latino.”
“In other words Google employees wanted to alter the search results to make them more positive in certain cases, for political reasons,” Carlson explained.
The Fox New Host went on to say that “Thomas also suggested promoting links for making donations to organizations fighting the travel ban.”
Google employees appeared to be on board with Thomas’ suggestions, despite the unethical nature of these ideas. The product manager Rami Banna, in an email responded, “We’re absolutely in, Mackenzie. Anything you need. Will put together a list of orgs with Meryl and H-L team.”
This makes Trump’s claims about Google suppressing positive news about him even more valid. In August he tweeted:
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
....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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
The problem with this is clear: the world trusts Google to provide them with truthful unbiased information, and if Google is finding ways to actively manipulate their search results to advance a particular political ideology, then that trust has been broken.
To “ease” the minds of those who use Google daily -- which is most of us -- Google issued a statement to Fox News explaining the emails, claiming:
“These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented. Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology -- not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”
But the Fox News host wondered how anyone could believe such a statement pointing out how the involved employees “presumingly they still work at Google.” After mentioning the firing of James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired last summer for expressing mildly conservative views in a private memo, Carlson said, “Here Google employees are plotting to subvert our entire public conversation secretly, but that’s fine with Google.”
Carlson hopes at least one elected representative will ask Google about this, as they are set to testify before Congress next week in a hearing largely focused on privacy.