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Google appears to be rigging the U.S. election through a new feature on its site that ostensibly lets you see where a candidate stands on the issues.
Apparently Google is using that feature to skew undecided voters toward Democratic candidates and their positions.
There’s long been a tendency for undecided voters to google a candidate before voting.
How long before the federal regulators catch on with this process is anyone’s guess but it’s certainly a worrisome trend. Natural monopolies affecting politics aren’t exactly a new phenomenon but it’s usually one that ends poorly for the monopoly in question.
Our friend writes:
Google recently turned on some features such that when you search for a candidate and their stance on the issues (e.g. by typing “Donald Trump on the Issues” into Google search, or by clicking an “issues” button at the top of the primary results.) Some points about this:
1. It trumps (no pun) all other sources when these phrases are used. The top of the search results are replaced with a it offers anearly full page dashboard [anyone familiar with online services might be struck by the economic implications of this – see screenshot] which goes through and conveys the issues for each candidate in the form of 1 or 2 quotes.
2. The quotes vary between always letting the candidates speak for themselves on the first result (Hillary, Bernie) to pulling from Media sources (All trump, later Hillary and Bernie Results)
a. It is unclear how the media results are picked, I get the same results from every browser, but maybe it is user specific.
b. It is possible that Hillary and Bernie opted in and cooperated with Google, so got to write their own stuff, whereas Trump did not – so maybe it is his fault.
3. Length of Statements. Due in part to the above, the length (and subsequently complexity and nuance) of statements is wildly different by candidate, as well as the format. To quantify it a little bit:
a. Trump has average word count of 23 (standard deviation of 10, median 24), inclusive of phrases like “Trump said” take up 2-4 words in 93.3% of statements
b. Sanders gets an average word count of 40 (std=17, median 46), with “Sanders” in 45% of statements, but no first statements
c. Clinton has an average word count of 41 (std=15, median 44), with “Clinton” in 41% of statements, no first statements
4. Example of how it plays out in the first result. I cherry-picked my favorites from the first result (this is what is important because even at full HD resolution it is the only one that is totally visible), but look at the data and come to your own conclusion. These are the full quotes for the first result. (So, yes, the sentence representing Trump’s stance on Tax policy does begin with “However, Trump conceded”) ….
- Trump (sourced from NBC news): “However, Trump conceded, “I try and pay as little tax as possible, because I hate what they do with my tax money. I hate the way they spend our money.”
- Hillary (by Hillary): “The wealthiest pay too little in taxes while the middle class needs more relief. I’m going to fix that. I’ll close corporate tax loopholes and make sure millionaires and billionaires can’t pay lower rates than middle-class families. And I’ll give tax relief to working families who are struggling with costs from college to health care.
- Bernie (by Bernie): “The wealthy and large corporations must pay their fair share. As president, I will stop corporations from shifting profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying taxes. I will tax Wall St. speculators who caused millions their jobs, homes, and life savings. I will tell the billionaire class: You can’t have it all while kids in this country go hungry.”
- Trump: “I want surveillance and I don’t care, are you ready for this, are you ready,” Trump asked the crowd.”
- Sanders: “I voted against the USA PATRIOT Act and against its subsequent reauthorizations. Terrorism is a serious threat and we must do everything we can to prevent attacks in this world, but I believe that we can do that without undermining our constitutional rights. Our civil liberties and right to privacy shouldn’t be the price we pay for security.”
- Clinton: “We have to protect Americans’ civil liberties. And we have to discover and disrupt terrorist plots before they can be carried out. That’s why I support the bipartisan USA Freedom Act President Obama recently signed into law, which protects privacy while giving our intelligence and law enforcement agencies what they need to can keep us safe.”
- Trump (sourced from news): ““As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, I’m pro-life,” Trump asserted on the debate stage at the University of Houston.
- Hillary (by Hillary): “Politicians have no business interfering with a women’s personal health decisions. I will oppose efforts to roll back women’s access to reproductive health care, including Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. As president I’ll stand up for Planned Parenthood and women’s access to critical health services, including safe, legal abortion.”
- Bernie (by Bernie): “The decision about abortion is a decision for a woman and her doctor to make, not the government. I will not allow the right wing to deny women control over their own bodies by forcing clinics to close, extending waiting periods, or inventing other methods that create de facto abortion bans. Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and must remain so.”]
5. Subject Matter. Clinton and Sanders have sections on “Gay Marriage” and “Medicare and Social Security” but Trump does not.
- Trump – “We are going to cut the Department of Education,” Trump said when asked if he would cut spending to curb the national debt.
- Bernie – “At a time when the rich are getting richer, poverty is increasing, and the middle class is in a 40-year decline, we need a budget that improves the lives of all Americans, not just the people on top. We need to reverse the massive transfer of wealth from working families to the top 1 percent and put millions of Americans back to work.”
- Hillary – “Raising Americans’ incomes will be my top priority. I’ll rebuild our infrastructure, invest in clean energy and manufacturing, create millions of good-paying middle class jobs, and rein in college costs and out-of-pocket health expenses. I’ll pay for my proposals by closing corporate tax loopholes and asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share.
The source continues about how dangerous this trend is (though readers of this website will know well that Silicon Valley social justice warriors have been using their tech to hinder freedom for quite awhile!)
Regardless of how one thinks about Trump, I think this is totally egregious and the beginnings of a dystopian future if what I am insinuating is true and it doesn’t get exposed more and/or someone doesn’t do something about it. (Trump himself talking about it would probably be best – would be great if he got tipped off and used it. Just like how the repubs semi-successfully attacked more traditional media. Google has too much of a Halo.)
It is an issue that transcends all parties…
If those quotes are selected based on analysis to skew to/around the median voter (see: cutting education spending, not paying taxes, the general “Dumbness” of his comments vs the others – which may or may not be intentional, haha), and they hit even a reasonable fraction of people who are genuinely trying to use Google as a neutral tool to understand candidate views on the issues, the mathematical effect could be HUGE.
Think about how it plays out – the people who are actually going to search for this stuff are the ones who are the most likely to have an open mind (i.e. more moderate / curious / etc?) and they are probably also most likely to be the ones who are viewed as “intelligent” in their community (which could be anything from an Alabama high school to a local labor union) because they are “informed” on the issues by virtue of looking into it — and/but they are most likely still going to be too lazy to really start digging into it, thinking through Google bias, etc.
Anyway – probably not a big deal to most people, but I view this as a massive calamity – not because of who it skews towards or against, but because tech seems to be being used to further suppress freedom and free thought rather to enhance it.
IMO: Google may be going down the path of doing the ultimate “evils”
So much for don’t be evil!