In comments made to reporters in the White House, Donald Trump has accused tech platforms Google, Twitter and Facebook of bias against him and warned that they should all be “very careful”.
The warnings come on the heels of tweets Trump released earlier this week alleging that Google search results for “Trump news” mostly showed negative stories from “national left-wing media”. President Trump did not provide any evidence for his claim, but the specificity of the claim that 96% of results were left-wing news outlets led website The Verge to attribute the claim to a study conducted by Paula Bolyard for PJ Media, a conservative news site.
Bolyard admitted the analysis was not precise, stating: “I performed the search multiple times using different computers – registered to different users – and Google returned similar results.” She added that, “while not scientific, the results suggest a pattern of bias against right-leaning content”.
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Google often changes and tweaks its algorithm and claims of bias against conservative sites are not new. However, many experts claim that this is unlikely linked to political bias and more to do with repute and the amount content a site produces. In a statement to the BBC, Mercedes Bunz, a digital technology senior lecturer at Kings College said, “Google’s news algorithm is optimized for actuality and proximity of an event, but it is generally not optimized to look for political orientation. However, it has a tendency to rank web pages higher that a lot of people link to.
“For news, this does not seem to have changed with Google’s last update of its search algorithm, which was rolled out on August 1.”
Google, who also denied the claims of political bias, commented: “Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. We continually work to improve Google search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”
Nonetheless, President Trump has maintained his position regarding claims of censorship by these companies. The commander-in-chief remarked: “I think what Google and what others are doing, if you look at what’s going on with Twitter, if you look at what’s going on with Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people.
“So I think that Google, and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It’s not fair to large portions of the population.”
An aide later added that the administration is also “looking into” the issue of regulating the websites. Larry Kudlow, the President’s economic adviser echoed the sentiment saying they plan on doing “some investigation and some analysis” into the claims.