UPDATE: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Tuesday that the administration is “taking a look” at regulating Google for supposedly being politically biased in its search results algorithms.
Following a Twitter rant by President Donald Trump in which he accused the search engine giant of “suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good,” Kudlow was asked by reporters whether there would be a need to regulate Google in some form or another.
Kudlow was short in his response.
“We’ll let you know. We’re taking a look at it,” he said.
Trump wrote on Tuesday a series of two tweets taking issue with Google, arguing that the company purposely placed negative news articles about him in its search results.
“They are controlling what we can & cannot see,” Trump concluded. “This is a very serious situation — will be addressed!”
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
Google said it does not take into consideration any political bias when it presents search results to users.
“When users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds,” a Google statement from Tuesday read. “Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”
There’s reason to believe the company, and to disbelieve the “reports” that Trump’s tantrum stems from.
Paula Bolyard from PJ Media authored the article from which Trump's "statistics" in his tweets originated. She conducted her “research” by doing the search for Trump’s name in Google’s news site herself. She then based the “biases” of news organizations that came up in the search by comparing them to a chart created by another conservative journalist named Sharyl Attkisson.
One look at that chart, and you’ll see notable problems with it, and thus problems with Bolyard’s research. For example, Attkisson places the non-partisan reporting from National Public Radio on the “far-left” end of the political spectrum, far from the near-center where other media bias sites have placed it. Every major news organization (such as CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg) is also listed as being leftist.
There are problems with the right side of the chart, too. Abhorrently, according to Attkisson, far-right conservative sites like Infowars (which publishes fake conspiracy theories regularly) are listed as “center-right” reporting.
The belief that Google is censoring right-wing news sites is a mistaken one to hold, based on shoddy reporting and troubling research methods that the author herself admits are not scientific. Trump is wrong to suggest changes need to come about based on this kind of reporting.
Sadly, the president doesn't seem to care much about working with actual facts and will likely continue to pursue policy based upon this work of fiction in the days ahead. Congress, if pushed to look at the issue by Trump, should be more discerning about the research behind the president's arguments.
President Donald Trump apparently thinks Google has a vendetta against him.
In his latest Twitter rant, the commander-in-chief raged against the tech-giant, accusing it of rigging the search results so that only negative stories show up at the top when someone searches his name.
“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media,” he wrote on social 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?”
The president, who once declared media “enemy of the American people,” also claimed all the results for latest news stories on him were from “left-wing” media sources, without bothering to share any stats to verify the allegations.
“96 per cent of results on 'Trump News' are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous,” the former reality star continued. “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!”
What someone needs to tell Trump is that search results that appear on Google page depend on a lot of factors like page rankings, keywords and a person’s browsing history etc. Also, it’s a complex algorithm where Google, like other search engines, use automated programs to crawl through different websites.
Moreover, what exactly did he mean when he said the situation “will be addressed?” Is he going to prosecute Google for allegedly making him look bad on the internet?
As pointed out by The Verge, Trump’s bizarre rant may have been inspired by a similar argument that first surfaced on right-wing site PJ Media, where a supposed analyst wrote a detailed review about how she discovered all top-ranking news outlets were left-leaning.
“It got much, much worse when I analyzed the first 100 items that Google returned in a search for news on ‘Trump,’” wrote Paula Bolyard. “CNN, by a wide margin, appeared most frequently, with nearly twice as many results returned as the second-place finisher, The Washington Post. Other left-leaning outlets also fared well, including NBC, CNBC, The Atlantic, and Politico.”
It’s quite alarming to think the president would not only believe but propagate such claims without even making sure if any of it was actually true, or if there were some other reasons behind it except a secret conspiracy to damage his reputation.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque