Some of Google’s internal company email chains revealed that in recent years, employees discussed tweaking the search engine so that pro-immigration content would show up higher than anti-immigration content.
The idea was proposed in response to President Trump’s ban for seven Muslim-majority countries; however, according to a CNN article, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email, “We do not bias our products to favor any political agenda.”
The Wall Street Journal obtained emails between two Google employees and published an article on Sept. 20 about their interaction.
“I find that it’s interesting that some individuals were planning on biasing the search engine but I’m glad it was stopped,” Max Hamilton, a junior family and human services major, said, “But it does open up some questions of the stability of the google search team I guess. How many of these sorts of events slip through the cracks and their managers don’t find out before they skewed the results?”
According to Statista, more than 88,000 people work at Google, which Hamilton said can be worrisome for tracking what is true or not.
“Out of one-hundred, even one slipping through the cracks is dangerous, but who knows how many actually do? Because no one’s perfect and it’s a dangerous situation.”
“The search algorithm is already kind of janky, specifically that it’s already skewed towards certain specific things,” said Stuart Sherman, a sophomore in English.
Sherman said that unless people are politically active, or the fact is disruptively annoying, it is not going to affect anyone.
Mike Read, junior Outdoor Leadership Ministries major, said, “I think it’s undemocratic ironically speaking. It destroys the egalitarianism of information … being that we should have the right to view equal options on either side, no matter our view.”
People continue to trust Google, even more than other companies. According to Search Engine Journal, 60 percent of people surveyed in the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer said they trust Google for news more than they trust the news outlets contained in Google’s index.
“Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide,” according to Internet Live Stats.
Google also averages 74.5 percent of the market share in search engines according to Smart Insights.
Hamilton said that this would not change his day-to-day use of Google and that it did not affect his searches in 2016 when the election coverage was at its height. “You saw all these things about the Clinton foundation and how great Hilary Clinton is and you saw all the scandals for Trump; that didn’t affect my Google searches in 2016 and this won’t affect my Google searches going forward,” Hamilton said.
“I seriously don’t believe anybody will care about this in the next month much less the next year.” Stuart say, “If you feel like Google’s messing up then just switch to Bing or something. It’s capitalism. We have options.”