August 29, 2018

President Trump Accuses Google of Bias

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Google’s search engine of promoting negative news articles and hiding ‘fair media’ coverage of him, vowing to address the situation.” (Reuters)

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Most on the left are coming to Google’s defense. Some, however, are expressing concerns about the search engine’s black box algorithms.

“The right has been alleging for years that large tech companies are intentionally and systematically biased against them, but there's little evidence to back up those claims.”

Axios

“The No. 1 result on Google for ‘Trump news’ is Fox News, which the president definitely does not consider fake. And of course Trump is confusing ‘fake news’ with news outlets that report critically about him.”

Esquire

Many note that in the study cited by Trump, “all the news outlets that have broken stories on the Trump White House — The Post, the New York Times, CNN, Politico, NBC News, the Daily Beast, BuzzFeed and many others — are identified as ‘left.’ The ones that break far less news fall on the right side.”

Washington Post

It's true that Google's search results can be incredibly problematic, but Trump's complaints paint a simple-minded conspiracy where the truth is actually very complex and based around a series of constantly shifting algorithms, geographic-specific rankings, and changes based on searches via mobile.”

Mashable

“According to Google, it uses algorithms to evaluate hundreds of factors including user experience and how many other prominent sites link to a page... the articles that were the basis for Trump's claim of rigging ignored the fact that Google's most fundamental interest is returning search results that users find helpful, because that's how it gets them to come back. It does that, in part, by prioritizing results from trusted news outlets with large audiences.”

CNN



“As ridiculous and potentially dangerous [as] it is for Trump to make policy based on a single flawed news report he saw on TV... there is a legitimate concern about how Google's search algorithm works... If a story isn't promoted on Google, there's a good chance you won't see it or hear about it.

Business Insider

“There is no natural or neutral selection of news sources that will make all users happy. Being suspicious of claims that a particular order of importance is somehow natural—especially an importance that is derived from Delphic black box like the Google ranking algorithm—is not a conspiracy theory, it is sensible skepticism.”

Slate

The right asserts that, intentionally or not, Google and the other tech giants are biased against conservatives.

The right asserts that, intentionally or not, Google and the other tech giants are biased against conservatives.

“Just over a year ago, in June 2017, the European Union fined the company $2.7 billion for... bias in its search algorithms... all the Trump-bashers who were suggesting Google would never, ever put its thumb on the scale seem to have ignored at least one elephant in the room.”

New York Post

Similarly, “while it does not outright censor expressions of conservative views, Twitter has admitted to using a complex and opaque Quality Filter algorithm that has the effect of disproportionately restricting the voices of conservatives under the guise of limiting harmful or abusive users.”

The Federalist

Of particular concern is the lack of transparency: a columnist for the New York Post recently had one of her articles taken down on Facebook. It reappeared after she complained, but “no one told me why it was taken down. No one told me why the piece suddenly reappeared with no explanation of what had happened.”

New York Post

Many cite a study from a Search Engine Optimization

SEO) firm which found that the “top search results [on Google] were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a ‘Left’ or ‘Far Left’ slant than they were pages from the right. Moreover, 16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results.”

Can I Rank

Others point to disclaimers that have been added to certain topics, such as global warming. “Extra information sounds helpful. But when social media platforms only pick certain politically disfavored positions to add Wiki links to, they skew debate.”

Townhall

Many clarify that they are “not calling for gov't regs to solve the problem of biased social media outlets. They're private companies and can run their companies however they want. Government almost always makes things worse.“

Twitter

Some, however, suggest that “perhaps platforms fitting a particular legal definition should be regulated as public utilities. After all, Federal Express doesn’t refuse to deliver packages to the National Review office on the ground that they may contain conservative communications, and telephone companies haven’t tried to cut off connections when two conservatives are talking. Why should Facebook, Twitter and YouTube be permitted to engage in political discrimination?”

Power Line Blog

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

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