Why Google poses a serious threat to democracy and how to end that threat

Aug 8, 2019 by

A research contends that the world’s biggest search engine can affect election results

Robert Epstein –

US President Donald Trump is reportedly preparing an executive order to limit political bias in social media companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter. But does this bias even exist? Several experts testified before a Senate subcommittee about the issue in June. In the article below, one of the witnesses, Robert Epstein, says that it does. Tomorrow sociologist Francesca Tripodi argues that it doesn’t.

I am here today for three reasons: to explain why Google presents a serious threat to democracy and human autonomy, to explain how passive monitoring systems can protect us both now and in the future from companies like Google, and to tell you how Congress can immediately end Google’s worldwide monopoly on search. …

Since 2012, some of my research and writings have focused on Google LLC, specifically on the company’s power to suppress content – the censorship problem, if you will – as well as on the massive surveillance the company conducts, and also on the company’s unprecedented ability to manipulate the thoughts and behavior of more than 2.5 billion people worldwide.

Data I’ve collected since 2016 show that Google displays content to the American public that is biased in favor on one political party – a party I happen to like, but that’s irrelevant. No private company should have either the right or the power to manipulate large populations without their knowledge …

I’ve published articles about my research on Google in both scientific publications and a wide array of mainstream news sources: in TIME magazine, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Dissent, The Hill, and Huffington Post, for example, but also in The Daily Caller and even in Russia’s Sputnik News.

I reach out to diverse different audiences because the threats posed by Google, and, to a lesser extent, Facebook, are so serious that I think everyone in the world needs to know about them. I put my own political leanings aside when I report my data and concerns because the problems these companies present eclipse personal politics. To put this another way, I love humanity, my country, and democracy more than I love any particular party or candidate. And democracy as originally conceived cannot survive Big Tech as currently empowered.

If you were to examine the data I have been collecting over the past 6-and-a-half years, every one of you would put partisanship aside and collaborate to rein in the extraordinary power that Google and Facebook now wield with unabashed arrogance.

Five disturbing findings 

Here are five disturbing findings from my research, which adheres, I believe, to the highest possible scientific standards in all respects:

1. In 2016, biased search results generated by Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that gave at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton (whom I supported). I know this because I preserved more than 13,000 election-related searches conducted by a diverse group of Americans on Google, Bing, and Yahoo in the weeks leading up to the election, and Google search results – which dominate search in the US and worldwide – were significantly biased in favor of Secretary Clinton in all 10 positions on the first page of search results in both blue states and red states …

SEME (Search Engine Manipulation Effect) is one of the most powerful forms of influence ever discovered in the behavioral sciences, and it is especially dangerous because it is invisible to people – “subliminal,” in effect. It leaves people thinking they have made up their own minds, which is very much an illusion. It also leaves no paper trail for authorities to trace. Worse still, the very few people who can detect bias in search results shift even farther in the direction of the bias, so merely being able to see the bias doesn’t protect you from it. Bottom line: biased search results can easily produce shifts in the opinions and voting preference of undecided voters by 20 percent or more – up to 80 percent in some demographic groups.

continue: Why Google poses a serious threat to democracy and how to end that threat

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.