Google chief Sundar Pichai faced questions about the tech giant’s political bias from House Judiciary Committee members. Rather than address the recent evidence that has shown a coordinated and planned effort to silence conservative news outlets, Pichai repeatedly denied that the company has any bias in its algorithms.
Mostly batting softballs back at the House members, Pichai declared that he had “issues” with studies that show the firm’s search results exclude conservative leaning viewpoints.
Republican committee member Lamar Smith said conservative voices were being “muted” though Google’s search results.
“Such actions pose a grave threat to our democratic form of government,” he said, adding, “This does not happen by accident, it is baked in to the algorithms.”
Pichai claimed independent studies had not uncovered any bias and argued that his business was “transparent” about the way its search results were generated.
“We evaluate our studies and our research results,” said Pichai, “We have a wide variety of sources, from both left and right.”
He added that it was “impossible” for any individual or group of individuals to manipulate its algorithms.
In response to a further question about the blatant bias, he claimed, “I’m confident we don’t approach our work with any political bias.”
“It’s important that we look at outcomes and assess that there’s no evidence of bias,” he added.
However, no mention was made of the internal communications recently uncovered by the Daily Caller News Foundation, which clearly demonstrate that discussions went beyond expressing remorse over Clinton’s loss… it was plain that executives tried to find a way to prevent Trump from winning again.
Byer falsely labeled The Daily Caller and Breitbart “opinion blogs.”
“How many times did you see the Election now card with items from opinion blogs (Breitbart, Daily Caller) elevated next to legitimate news organizations? That’s something that can and should be fixed,” Byer wrote.
Many people wonder how that ‘could be fixed,’ if Pichai is being honest in his testimony to Congress.
“I think we have a responsibility to expose the quality and truthfulness of sources – because not doing so hides real information under loud noises,” Byer continued.
“Beyond that, let’s concentrate on teaching critical thinking. A little bit of that would go a long way. Let’s make sure that we reverse things in four years – demographics will be on our side.”
One Google engineer, Uri Dekel, identified himself as a Clinton supporter, but said such manipulations could backfire.
“Thinking that Breitbart, Drudge, etc. are not ‘legitimate news sources’ is contrary to the beliefs of a major portion of our user base is partially what got us to this mess. MSNBC is not more legit than Drudge just because Rachel Maddow may be more educated / less deplorable / closer to our views, than, say Sean Hannity,” Dekel wrote in a reply to Byer.
“I follow a lot of right wing folks on social networks you could tell something was brewing. We laughed off Drudge’s Instant Polls and all that stuff, but in the end, people go to those sources because they believe that the media doesn’t do it’s job. I’m a Hillary supporter and let’s admit it, the media avoided dealing with the hard questions and issues, which didn’t pay off. By ranking ‘legitimacy’ you’ll just introduce more conspiracy theories,” Dekel added.
“Too many times, Breitbart is just echoing a demonstrably made up story,” Byer wrote in a reply to his original post. He did not cite any examples or a single shred of proof.
“That happens at MSNBC, too. I don’t want a political judgement. The desire is to break the myth feedback loop, the false equivalency, instead of the current amplification of it,” Byer added.
“What I believe we can do, technically, that avoids the accusations of conspiracy or bias from people who ultimately have a right and obligation to decide what they want to believe, is to get better at displaying the ‘ripples’ and copy-pasta, to trace information to its source, to link to critiques of those sources, and let people decide what sources they believe,” another Google engineer, Mike Brauwerman, suggested.
“Give people a comprehensive but effectively summarized view of the information, not context-free rage-inducing sound-bytes,” he added.
“We’re working on providing users with context around stories so that they can know the bigger picture,” chimed in David Besbris, vice president of engineering at Google.
“We can play a role in providing the full story and educate them about all sides. This doesn’t have to be filtering and can be useful to everyone,” he wrote.
Pichai apparently conveniently forgot about this, and the video where he himself spoke to executives about the ‘devastating loss,’ of Hillary Clinton.
When asked about the Chinese ‘Dragonfly’ project, Pichai said there was no plans to launch it.
“Our core mission is to provide users with access to information and getting access to information is an important human right,” Pichai added, “We are always compelled across the world to try hard to provide that information.”
Such assurances from the largest data collector in the world seem ingenuous at best.
Mr Pichai was questioned extensively about the amount of information that Google collected and what it did with the “mountains” of data it gathered, but rather than actually answer those questions, Pichai shoved it off onto consumers, stating that Google gave people ‘choices,’ about the type of data it collected.
Many people wonder what the point is to these circus hearings. Nothing is ever done. Facebook continues to exercise communist style control of their platform, Twitter routinely bans anyone they disagree with, and Google keeps on collecting whatever it wants, they argue.