It has been suggested that Google favours Hillary Clinton and manipulates its own search algorithms to provide search suggestions that are much more positively phrased than those of other political figures, namely the other prominent presidential candidate Donald Trump. A few examples of this, which we will analyse later in the video, would be when searching for Hillary Clinton, Google’s autosuggestion engine would recommend searches with a good tone such as education and healthcare while negative results such as racist, Hitler and fascist would turn up when searching for Donald Trump.
In this video I will go through my take on why I think this rumour is circulating and we will take a closer look at the different aspects of the subject to help us figure out if Google is even capable of forcing certain results to show over others, and the consequences it could have for the company if they were to actually manipulate the results in a biased way.
Before we can begin to analyze the accusation it is important to first understand what Google ultimately wants to achieve, and what the success criteria for the search engine giant are. Let me begin by reading Google’s own official statement on the matter.
“Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause. Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how Autocomplete works. Our Autocomplete algorithm will not show a predictive query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person’s name. More generally, our Autocomplete predictions are produced based on a number of factors, including the popularity of search terms.”
Examining this I want to say that one of the heavier reasons Google’s been so successful and maintains the large share of the market that it has today is mainly because of the quality of the search algorithm, which is an automated mechanism that evaluates the search results based on what the visitor searches for and then positions the search results accordingly.
Now, there are a few widespread misunderstandings surrounding the search algorithm that I would like to address here. First of all, it seems that many believe there to be a human factor involved on searches. But this is in fact not true. It is true that Google’s employees constantly engage with the algorithm to analyze and learn about its behavior and output, but also to adjust its parameters and implement new factors to use for ranking the results. In other words, the algorithm works automatically and entirely on its own, and only sees the web in code and numbers and therefore does not favor one search result over another, as all searches and web pages are evaluated and rated from the exact same criteria and factors.
The reason that the algorithm is designed to work this way is because of Google’s ultimate goal, which is to provide relevant and unbiased search results, and by allowing any sort of human factor to intervene directly in the way Google processes the searches, the company will be deviating from the very foundational principle upon which they built their search engine.
This of course does not mean that Google absolutely cannot and will not do such a thing, but it makes it, at least to me, highly unlikely that they would dare to do this because it will be almost impossible to make sure all the employees that would have to be involved keep it a secret. But also because if it got out into the public it could be catastrophic for the reputation of the company, as it would raise well-founded doubts about the reliability of the search engine.
Google vs. Hillary and Trump
Despite my firm belief that Google would not attempt to favor one search over another, especially a personality, I feel it is important to point out that Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and now executive chairman of Alphabet, the company that now owns Google, has funded a data analysis company called The Groundwork which is working directly for the Hillary Clinton campaign. This is one of the reasons that the accusations of Google favoring Hillary Clinton in searches has gained so much traction, and I must admit it looks rather suspicious.
However, I still believe the effort required for someone like Eric Schmidt to persuade a large group of Google’s employees to alter the search engine to favoring the democratic candidate and keep it a secret to the public would be much too big and an almost impossible feat to achieve. One of the things that I’ll be following closely from now on is how Google will react to the accusations and rumours, as this will give a much clearer indication of their policies and stand.
Although I believe it will be a bad move they could potentially agree with the fact that search results are unfairly represented in some case and decide to manually manipulate those results in order to satisfy the affected parties. However, such an action would be highly unlikely as it opens up Google to being very vulnerable to pressure from the media and in the end will make the search engine much more biased and it can ignore the very essential ingredients that has led to their success in providing relevant and unbiased organic results.
Although I strongly doubt that Google would deliberately manipulate their organic results into favouring a particular person or company, I feel obligated to mention that it would also be highly unlikely that the search giant would ever admit to doing such an action, even if it was true. This is mainly because it would cause a massive disruption in the community, as people and companies from all over the world would attempt to exploit this by persuading Google into favouring them in the search results, or altering the results to the disadvantage of their competition.
Do you still believe that Google manipulates searches manually, and how would you like to see Google respond to these rumors? Please let me know down below, and as always, thank you so much for reading and don’t forget to like and subscribe if you liked the post.