November 19, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Yet another set of revelations, this time courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, has undermined Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s sworn testimony that the internet giant does not manually manipulate its search results.
On Friday, the WSJ published a report that Google “uses blacklists, algorithm tweaks and an army of contractors” to “interfere” with its own search algorithms and “shape what you see.” The algorithms receive “regular tinkering” not just from engineers but from executives, the paper reported, “to a far greater degree than the company and its executives have acknowledged.”
The company “made more than 3,200 changes to its algorithms in 2018, up from more than 2,400 in 2017 and from about 500 in 2010,” according to one source. These changes normally come without warning to any number of businesses who rely on search traffic.
The newspaper also found that Google blacklists certain right-wing political websites from is search results, including Gateway Pundit and United West. Perhaps most significantly, the Journal reported that 39 percent of Google search results for “abortion” come from Planned Parenthood’s own website (as opposed to 14 percent from Microsoft’s Bing search engine). This change, they say, came as a result of lobbying from the pro-abortion organization NARAL.
Echoing CEO Pichai’s December 2018 testimony that “we don’t manually intervene on any particular search result” and that it was “not possible” for employees to do so, Google has disputed the WSJ’s findings. The company gave a statement to CNBC that its report contains outdated anecdotes that “give a very inaccurate impression of how we approach building and improving Search.”
But conservatives are unlikely to take Google’s reassurance at face value, as the WSJ report is consistent with the findings of multiple previous investigations.
In April, the Daily Caller obtained documents detailing Google’s “misrepresentation policy” and “good neighbor policy,” which inform a blacklist that is manually overseen by Google’s Trust & Safety Team. The documents indicated that several conservative sites had been blacklisted, 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.
In July, research psychologist Robert Epstein testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he has identified “nine different blacklists Google maintains to suppress information worldwide,” referring senators to a 2016 US News & World Report piece in which he elaborated that they encompass Google’s search results, autocomplete feature, Google Maps, YouTube searches, Google News, AdWords and AdSense, banned user accounts, and website quarantines.
In August, Project Veritas released an interview with senior software engineer Zachary Vorhies, who has been the source of numerous leaks over the past several months, as well as a trove of more than 950 documents shedding light on Google’s blacklists and other censorship practices. The documents detailed numerous Google content practices, including one on ranking the “fringe” content of news websites, and another showing that “human raters” help decide whether a video contains “fake news.”
In addition, numerous leaked private conversations appear to show not only that the dominant ideologies within Google are dramatically out of step with the country at large, but that the company is willing to enforce those ideologies through its ostensibly neutral services and platforms.