Anonymous have posted a video accusing Google of manipulating search results in favour of US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
In the video, the speaker demonstrates how the suggestion box – subject of a million memes – brings up different suggestions for Clinton related terms compared to competitors Yahoo and Bing:
To test this they used two terms across all three providers: “hillary clinton cri” and “hillary clinton ind” to see what would show up and found that Yahoo and Bing came up with “hillary clinton crimes” at the top while Google showed “Hillary Clinton crime reform”.
We repeated the experiment to see if we could get the same results:
Things have changed since Anon posted their video. Although different from the Bing results, “hillary clinton criminal prosecution” is now at the top of the list. However, when we tried the other one, this happened:
Further investigation by Anonymous using Google’s Search Analytics found that the top terms were not the most searched for. While the “3 black teenagers” scandal was mostly an accident of popularity, this seems far more deliberate. The group accused former Google CEO and Alphabet, Inc chief exec Eric Schmidt, who had been funding various Clinton associated initiatives.
This comes hot off the heels of last month’s revelation that Facebook staff were making sure news stories from right-wing sources didn’t make it into your trending bar.
This has disturbing implications; although both are private corporations, Facebook and Google are so ubiquitous that we all use them as a public utility. In a ‘net where everybody’s trying to push a message, Google was thought of as a neutral entity. Where can you trust when even your search engine has a visible agenda?
The worst part is, tomorrow we’ll probably forget about this and carry on using Google because it’s convenient. Sorry Bing.