Can Google and big tech companies influence an election? Absolutely!
Midterm elections are coming up; how are you planning to research candidates in your state? It’s safe to say the majority of internet users today find their information through Google. Then it should scare us that Google and big tech – with predominantly liberal puppet masters – could easily shift election votes and change the outcome of any election.
My randomized, controlled and peer-reviewed research on SEME shows that when one candidate is favored in search results, that can easily shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more — up to 80 percent in some demographic groups. My new research on SSE suggests that (a) Google is manipulating opinions from the very first character people type into the Google search bar, and (b) by manipulating search suggestions (those phrases they flash at you while you’re typing your search term), Google can turn a 50/50 split among undecided voters into an astonishing 90/10 split.
Those boxes they often show you at the top of the results page, the so-called “featured snippets,” also shift votes and opinions, possibly boosting the impact of SEME by between 10 and 30 percent.
Is there evidence of actual favoritism in Google’s search engine? Well, the European Union certainly thinks so, having fined Google $2.7 billion last year for having biased search results. In the months leading up to the 2016 election here in the U.S., I led a team that used objective methods to preserve 13,207 online election-related searches and the 98,044 web pages to which the search results linked. These data showed that Google’s search results favored Hillary Clinton (whom I supported) in all 10 positions on the first page of search results — enough, perhaps, to have shifted two or three million votes in her direction over time.
Was this just, as Google likes to claim, an “organic” phenomenon — you know, something Google’s algorithm did all by itself based on user preferences? (What an idiotic claim. I mean, who wrote the algorithm that acts on those preferences?) Maybe — except that I found pro-Clinton favoritism in searches originating in red states, not just in blue states.
As for Google’s vacuous denials about having political preferences — defended uncritically in recent days by reporters like CNN’s Hadas Gold — let’s review: Google’s Eric Schmidt not only helped supervise Obama’s tech teams in 2008 and 2012, he also offered to supervise Hillary Clinton’s entire tech operation and bankrolled a highly secretive tech operation, The Groundwork, to assist her campaign. Clinton’s Chief Technology Officer was Stephanie Hannon, a former Google executive, and more than 95 percent of the company’s political donations have gone to Democratic candidates in recent elections.
That said, the problem is not about hurting conservatives; it’s much bigger than that. Google has also been accused of suppressing socialists and progressive groups. And whatever the company’s political preferences are today, they could change tomorrow, both in the U.S. and other countries. Democracy itself is at stake here.
If Google’s algorithm determines what you need to know about a candidate, can it influence your vote? We’re in an era where information is at the tip of your fingers, but what if that information itself is biased? It’s alarming especially when the fate of Congress rests in the outcome of the midterm election.