Study: Google interfered in U.S. elections 41 times since 2008

(The Sentinel) — Supporters of former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can find some common ground as a study reveals each of their presidential campaigns was targeted by Google in favor of an opponent, according to a study of election interference over 16 years by the Media Research Center (MRC).

MRC says it works “to expose and counter the leftist bias of the national news media.”

Although the MRC research shows the social media giant has routinely censored the accounts of conservative candidates and their supporters, it took aim at the Clinton campaign in its 2008 race against Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Google executives perceived the Wall Street-connected Clinton as the more moderate alternative to Obama, who had expressed a desire to develop technology and support Google’s initiatives as he had in the U. S. Senate. To that end, Google labeled as spam anti-Obama bloggers who operated on its platform. The MRC study says journalist Simon Owens reported:

“Nearly all the censored bloggers appeared to have three things in common: most were pro-Hillary Clinton blogs, all were anti-Barack Obama, and several were listed on, an anti-Obama website.”

The search engine, however, saved most of its early fire for Republican presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012.

  • Google CEO Eric Schmidt endorsed Obama over GOP nominee John McCain two weeks before Election Day 2008, claiming the support was “personal” and that his company was “officially neutral.”
  • In 2012, Google participated in an online smear against Republican frontrunner Rick Santorum by manipulating its algorithm, so searches for the candidate’s name revealed the vulgar prank.
  • Later that year, the study shows Schmidt played a key role in the voter-targeting operation of the Obama re-election campaign in its victory over Mitt Romney.

In 2016, Google was on the side of Hillary Clinton, who was considered more electable than Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Again, the company altered its algorithms to hide searched-for information on the legal issues surrounding Clinton while ignoring the same defenses for Republican candidate Trump. The MRC study also reveals the tech giant, at the direction of Schmidt, paid for transportation for Latino voters to get to the polls in key states. All Google’s efforts were for naught, however, as Clinton narrowly lost the election to Trump.

Recovering from the Clinton loss, the MRC study says the tech company resolved in 2018 to flip the House of Representatives to thwart Trump’s legislative agenda and succeeded, due in part to its altered algorithm linking the California GOP to Nazis. Observers credit the loss of three GOP House seats there, and with them control of the House, to the tactic.

In 2020, Google began by censoring the advertisements for moderate Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, whose popularity rose after the first debate among Democratic candidates. Gabbard told the New York Times:

 “Google’s discriminatory actions against my campaign are reflective of how dangerous their complete dominance over internet search is, and how the increasing dominance of big tech companies over our public discourse threatens our core American values.”

MRC says it exposes liberal media bias
Photo courtesy of Media Research Center

For the rest of that pandemic-altered election, MRC research indicates the tech giant censored conservative news websites, changed its ads misinformation policy to the detriment of those providing conservative content, marked nearly 60% more emails from conservative candidates as spam, and favored Democratic candidates with “get out the vote’ reminders. Observers believe six million votes may have been affected.

In the 2022 midterms, Google News directed users to left-leaning news sites more often than conservative ones, buried the campaign websites of GOP Senate candidates far down the first page of results, and prioritized search results favoring pro-choice questions and candidates. As a result, research psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein declared:

“Google stopped the (Republicans) 2022 Red Wave.”

This year, researchers have found that Google’s bias in favor of liberal candidates continues with its AI Chatbot Gemini, which provides misleading information that favors some candidates while disparaging others. Gemini downplays the significance of the Hunter Biden laptop, for instance,  concluding:

“The authenticity of the laptop and its contents has been contested, with concerns about chain of custody and potential manipulation. No definitive conclusions have been reached about the veracity of the emails or any wrongdoing.”

The chatbot reportedly refuses to answer questions that are damaging to President Biden.

Google continues to bury the campaign websites of candidates it does not favor, mostly Republicans, but also that of then-Democratic, now-Independent contender Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Among the conclusions offered by MRC:

“Indeed, the company censored Hillary Clinton supporters in 2008 while its CEO endorsed Obama. In 2012, Google once again favored Obama while targeting then-leading GOP candidate Santorum. The company then supported Clinton in 2016 and hid search suggestions that highlighted her alleged illegal activity.

“In 2020, Google suspended the more moderate Democrat Gabbard’s ads account during the height of her popularity. The company even reportedly sent out vote reminders only to Democrats and blocked GOP fundraising emails from reaching users’ inboxes. And now, Google is up to more of the same in 2024.

“In many of the cases listed above, Google either admitted that it had made errors or attempted to downplay studies and reports critical of its actions. But neither defense explains why Google’s election interference always seems to go in one direction: favoring the radical left at the expense of the right.

“When so-called mistakes and allegedly flawed methodologies consistently point to the same radical political preferences, Google makes it easy for Americans to conclude that the tech giant has rigged its policies, and as a result, the American political system.”

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