April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Internet companies accused of discriminating against conservative users of their platforms typically claim examples of wrongful suppression are unfortunate side-effects of algorithms or automated systems designed for neutral purposes. But according to new documents obtained by The Daily Caller, humans are behind at least some political discrimination at the biggest name in Big Tech.
On Tuesday, The Caller revealed that it has obtained documents detailing Google’s “misrepresentation policy” and “good neighbor policy,” which inform a blacklist to be managed and updated by Google’s Trust & Safety Team based on “demand.”
“The deceptive_news domain blacklist is going to be used by many search features to filter problematic sites that violate the good neighbor and misrepresentation policies,” a Google policy document reads. “The purpose of the blacklist will be to bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product. It will not cause a demotion in the organic search results or de-index them altogether.”
According to The Caller, this means affected sites can still appear in the basic “ten blue links” yielded by Google Search, but not in most other features such as “top news,” “video,” or sidebars. (While the “ten blue links” are supposedly unaffected, last fall PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard found that “left-leaning sites comprised 96 percent of the total results” of a Google News search for “trump.”)
“The beginning of the workflow starts when a website is placed on a watchlist which is used for monitoring of sites to determine if they violate the Good Neighbor Policy,” reads a memo detailing how the blacklist is operated, last edited on December 3, 2018. The memo mentions that investigations of potential additions are done using a “manual review tool,” after which the Trust & Safety Team adds domains to “deceptive_news_blacklist_domains.txt.”
The blacklist includes several conservative sites, including The American Spectator, Conservative Tribune, Gateway Pundit, and the blogs of conservative pundit Matt Walsh, economist Gary North, and Israeli policy columnist Caroline Glick.
The Caller notes that a week after the memo’s date, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee that “we don’t manually intervene on any particular search result,” and it was “not possible for an individual employee or groups of employees to manipulate our search results” because “we have a robust framework, including many steps in the process.”
“You can’t trust the human judgment of Google’s Trust and Safety team,” a source at Google told The Daily Caller.
Google responded to The Daily Caller’s report with a statement insisting the company does “not manually determine the order of any search result, nor do our algorithms or policies attempt to make any judgement on the political leanings of a website.” It claimed its policies “do not impact the way these sites appear in organic blue-link Google Search results” (which the report didn’t dispute), and that only sites that fail to follow its policies are barred from “news surfaces or in information boxes in Search.”
Walsh, who currently writes for The Daily Wire, noted that he no longer regularly maintains his personal blog and mocked the idea that it was objectionable:
Apparently my personal website, which at this point really only contains my contact information, has been blacklisted by Google. That makes sense. I’m a pretty dangerous character. Wouldn’t want anyone to contact me. Who knows what might happen.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) April 10, 2019
The American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord observed that the Caller’s revelation came just days after the publication ran a piece criticizing Google insiders for forcing Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James off a technology advisory board.
“This is no longer some minor bug in the tech world,” Lord wrote. “The fact of the matter is that the American Left is waging a full scale war against fellow Americans who have the audacity to disagree with Left Wing orthodoxy. They are not interested in debate, discussion, ideas, free speech, or a free press. They are the enforcers of their own iron-fisted, totalitarian, Mao-style cultural revolution.”
This is only the latest piece of evidence indicating Google’s left-wing bias. Numerous leaked private conversations and documents appear to show the staff’s dominant ideology is dramatically out of step with the country at large, and that Google is willing to enforce that ideologies through its ostensibly neutral services and platforms.