Donald Trump has claimed that Google’s search results are biased towards liberal media outlets. The search giant on Tuesday responded to those claims, explaining exactly how Google’s algorithm works.
According to Google, its algorithms don’t allow for bias “results toward any political ideology.”
“When users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds,” Google said in a statement released on Tuesday morning.
“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”
Trump’s claim of bias by Google was the result of, ironically, a biased study by PJ Media, a conservative outlet. The agency claims that 96% of all Google search results lead to a liberal media outlet.
Trump, latching onto the study sent out the following tweet:
The President then added:
Trump’s claims and that of the study were quickly debunked as internet users started conducting various searches on Google. Fox News regularly showed up in results and stories reporting on Trump’s claims were also highlighted.
Hmm… Googling “Trump news,” here’s a screenshot of the results. The top story is from Fox News, and there are now two mentions of Trump’s complaints about Google searches. pic.twitter.com/AhhxSvPlwk
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) August 28, 2018
What is known is that Google typically ranks popular, trusted news outlets ahead of others. The number of backlinks (links from other sites to an original source) is weighed as part of Google’s equation, along with thousands of other known and unknown variables.
The incredibly slanted study by PJ Media lists many popular sites on the left included the Donald Trump’s favorite targets such as The New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, and ABC News. Conversely, on the right, the study lists the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, McClatchy, and Fox News. Where the study falls apart is the listing of fewer conservative properties and the addition of conspiratorial sites such as InfoWars and The New American.
Placing a weight on search results for non-trusted, conspiratorial websites known for listing outright lies is going to massively skew the studies results — especially at a time when Google is fighting to slow the spread of fake news in its search results. Studying fewer conservative properties will also massively skew results.
Donald Trump now plans to launch an investigation that is likely to cost American taxpayers millions of dollars, all because of a slanted and irresponsible study created by a conservative outlet.
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James Kosur is the former Editor-In-Chief and co-founder of Hill Reporter. He recently served as an editor for Business Insider and various other publications. James and his partners sold Hill Reporter to a new owner in July 2019.