Alphabet Inc. and Search Engine Bias

Current socio-economic conditions in the United States help facilitate political power grabs for special interest groups. The use of super PACs and lobbyists allow corporations to hold unique footholds in Washington. Corporations have been throwing millions of dollars into the political process for years. The question at hand is, how else do they influence politics? 

Google is easily one of the most recognizable companies in the world. They employ thousands of people across the globe and have unparalleled reach. Google is actually owned, along with over two hundred other subsidiaries, by Alphabet Inc. Alphabet Inc. owns Google Home, NEST, Chrome, Android, Google Maps, Google News, Pixel, and Youtube. Every minute there are roughly 3.8 million Google searches, and that doesn’t include any of the other services offered by Alphabet Inc. They have logged an unfathomable amount of user data and may have more influence on our day to day lives than you would think.

Earlier this year the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, was questioned during a Congressional hearing regarding their search engine bias. Pichai claims that “Google provides users with the best experience and most relevant information”. He denies any bias in their search engine algorithm. Yet a Google engineer named Gregory Coppola found it necessary to contact the watchdog group Project Veritas with his concerns about the search bias. He claims that Google uses its search engine to bolster pro-democrat articles while hiding positive information about Republicans. He no longer is employed by Google and is now dedicating time to uncovering their underlying intentions. 

Coppola isn’t the only one who noticed something strange about Google search results. Paula Bolyard conducted an experiment and found that there is a forty percent higher chance that left or far-left leaning articles appeared in the most popular results. Coppola recreated the same experiment using the search term “Donald Trump”. He did one search per minute for a total of five thousand searches. His findings yielded that one in five searches produced articles by CNN. About half of all the articles came from CNN, USA Today, NYT, Politico, and Guardian. There are thousands of news sources available on the internet and it just so happens that the most relevant news stories are from left-leaning sources.

It doesn’t end with Coppola or Bolyard either. Robert Epstein, a behavioral psychologist, testified before Congress objecting to any claims that Google makes about not biasing search results. Through testing, he has verified that people will believe a story to be more correct if it is found on Google, so it’s clear that Google has the upper hand as far as the validity of its projected information goes.

 Additionally, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Epstein preserved thirteen thousand election-related searches conducted by different groups of Americans. They used Google, Yahoo, and Bing during the exercise. The information he gathered indicated that the top ten results on Google show a positive bias towards then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when compared to Bing and Yahoo. Epstein also tested the auto-fill functionality when doing a Google search during the 2016 elections. He found that Google auto-filled positive search options for Clinton compared to negative/ neutral results through other search engines. (Epstein has done extensive research into search engine bias, his most relevant work is linked at the end of this article for anyone interested)

This issue should not be confused with left vs. right, but corporate America vs. working-class America. Enormous corporations, like Google, have the ability to alter the political process to their advantage. And let’s not forget that the sole purpose of a corporation is to generate profit for its shareholders, it is a narcissistic machine with an endless monetary drive. If Google does alter it’s search algorithm to help certain political parties and candidates then it becomes our job as citizens to stop them. We can’t take back our political system if corporations are allowed to be involved at such a deep level. 


Patrick O’Connor

current events politics Privacy

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