UPDATE: Rhea Drysdale, writing for Medium, has pointed out that Google search results for Donald Trump also seem to favor the candidate. She concludes that Google’s search algorithm does not always autocomplete with the most popular searches, but rather according to an incredibly complex set of rules that only Google understands. While we cannot agree with her ultimate conclusion, that SourceFed has an “agenda… against Hillary Clinton and/or Google,” it’s worth noting that there may be more to this story than there initially appeared to be. As of this writing Google has yet to comment on the story; we will update if they do.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:
We trust Google more than we trust ourselves. If you can’t remember the lyrics to a song you like, you’ll probably Google them. If it turns out they’re different than you remember, you’ll probably take Google’s word for it that you’re wrong. There’s even a classic New York Times editorial from 2003 that postulates that Google might be God, or at least the closest thing to it that we have in modern society.
That’s what makes this story so disturbing. SourceFed’s Matt Lieberman, along with researcher Spencer Reed, editor Kenny Huynh, and the rest of the SourceFed team, uncovered what appears to be systematic manipulation of Google search results to favor the current presumptive Democratic Presidental nominee Hillary Clinton.
SourceFed researchers determined that certain search terms that paint Hillary Clinton in a negative light do not show up as suggested results on Google. Search terms like “hillary clinton indicted” and “hillary clinton crimes,” which appeared with regularity on Yahoo, Bing, and Google’s own search volume tracker, have not been appearing on the main Google engine.
The video goes on to demonstrate multiple connections between the Clinton campaign and Google, though it strongly and repeatedly states that there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing or other malfeasance from either Clinton’s campaign or Google. There is additionally no evidence that Clinton or anyone in her campaign knew about the apparent search disparities.
The team at SourceFed also found a study performed by psychologist Robert Epstein and publicized in Wired that demonstrates a clear link between search suggestions and people’s political preferences. In fact, voters were 48% more likely to vote for a candidate they saw positive search results for. In short: if this story is true, the fallout could be catastrophic — for the perceived neutrality of Google, for the trustworthiness of the Clinton campaign, and, if Clinton is elected, even for the legitimacy of the American Presidency.
What do you think? Has Google gone too far, or will this be revealed to be some kind of mistake? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter.