Google allows human intervention to proactively manipulate search engine results, according to a major investigation by The Wall Street Journal, opening the tech giant to criticism from conservatives over its handling of Google News articles and other politically-sensitive content.
“Twenty years ago, Google founders began building a goliath on the premise that its search algorithms could do a better job combing the web for useful information than humans. Google executives have said repeatedly—in private meetings with outside groups and in congressional testimony—that the algorithms are objective and essentially autonomous, unsullied by human biases or business considerations.”
Yet the Journal found that human-led actions “have increased sharply since the 2016 election.” Google made 3,200 changes to its algorithms in 2018, an increase from 500 in 2010, according to the Journal, which also reported that “Google keeps blacklists,” and its engineers make “behind-the-scenes adjustments” to results on the search pages.
While “The company states in a Google blog, ‘We do not use human curation to collect or arrange the results on a page.’ It says it can’t divulge details about how the algorithms work because the company is involved in a long-running and high-stakes battle with those who want to profit by gaming the system,” the Journal reported.
According to data by the Website OpenSecrets.org, 81 percent of Google parent company Alphabet have donated to Democrats during the 2020 election cycle so far, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. In 2016, Alphabet employees followed a similar pattern, donating 73 percent of the time to Democrats and just 15 percent to Republicans.
Earlier this year, Google employees circulated a petition to successfully remove Kay Coles James, president of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, from Google’s external advisory council on artificial intelligence.
“If they had bothered to do their homework, Google employees would have discovered that Mrs. James beautifully practices the whole Gospel of Christ,” wrote Rebecca Hagelin in the Washington Examiner. “She’s unafraid to voice her deeply held religious convictions while exhibiting more love toward people of differing views than almost anyone else in the public eye. Instead, the leftists chose to stereotype Mrs. James, a practice they claim to abhor.”