Search Engines

The GOP internet conspiracy

Are US conservatives actually Bing users? This week saw the Right accuse Google of using its search weight to support Hilary Clinton.

Sourcefeed, an online news site, posted a video accusing Google of manipulating its Autocomplete results in search to favour Hilary Clinton. In the video, SF suggests that searching “Hilary Clinton Cri” not bringing up “criminal charges” and “Hilary Clinton Ind” not bringing up “indictment” is proof the search giant is rigging the results.

Google has obviously denied the accusations, telling the Washington Post “Google Autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause”. The statement was followed by a full blog post explaining how Autocomplete works.

“Autocomplete isn’t an exact science, and the output of the prediction algorithms changes frequently,” read the blog. “It’s also important to keep in mind that Autocomplete predictions aren’t search results and don’t limit what you can search for.”

If true, it’s undoubtedly a big deal. A recent study suggested that rigging autocomplete results can have a massive result in how a person could vote. Couple that with Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt’s association with Hilary Clinton, plus a few people not getting the search results they want or expect, and you get some serious allegations and conspiracy theories.

But it’s probably not true. Aside from the fact one engineer suggested that the company itself doesn’t fully understand Rankbrain – which probably has at least a minimal role in autocomplete - the experience is both completely personalised and ever-changing. You’d probably need a dedicated worker to be constantly editing and amending queries.

Conspiracy, or deflection?

The news follows hot the heels of Facebook being accused of manipulating its trending news feature to suppress conservative news sites and headlines.

How odd. Two stories about major companies having an agenda about Conservatives. Collective Silicon Valley conspiracy, smear campaign by Microsoft and Twitter, or collective guilt and deflection to distract from the man currently due to run for the White House?


Also read:

Why the Facebook trending news controversy is a tipping point

Facebook’s news censorship: Manipulative algorithms are nothing new


What would Donald Trump as US president mean for tech?

Donald Trump is only the latest crazy internet pundit


InfoShot: Cyber security & US presidential hopefuls

Watson2016: Could an AI run for President?


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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