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A Closer Look at Google’s Search Engine Bias

If Google’s CEO honestly believes that there is no political bias, that is, in itself, a big part of the problem

Here are a few more excerpts from the Project Veritas video with former Googler Zachary Vorhies, who provided a trove of documents that, he says, points to Google’s attempts to sway public opinion by manipulating search results.

Recently, Google executives were reported as denying to Congress any political agenda. From the video:

Zach Vorhies: What they’re doing is, they’re saying, well, Newsbusters, the Gateway Pundit, National Enquirer, Media Matters, Infowars, they’re not going to appear on search results. They’re telling people they don’t have any blacklists, they don’t have any ideology, they don’t have any political bias but it’s really clear that they do. And if Google wants to have political bias and they want to say they have political bias, that is their right as a company. But for them to go under oath and to say that these blacklists don’t exist, well, employees like me are able to just search through the internal search engine of the company and see that they do is, it’s hypocritical at the least. And, um, it’s perjury at the worst. [10:39 start] (Transcribed by Denyse O’Leary, Ottawa, August 16, 2019)

Note: The video is at BitChute and YouTube but Project Veritas has expressed concern that Google-owned YouTube may be only a temporary home.

Here’s one list of the banned again, provided by Vorhies:

It’s not clear why a literate public would need protection from the National Enquirer’s faux dishes on celebs, which have been available on newsstands for nearly a century.

Conservative news sources certainly predominate among the banished; the list includes Newsbusters (conservative media watchdog), American Thinker (conservative opinion), LifeNews (pro-life news), ChristianPost (Christian news), and The Rebel (independent Canadian conservative news).

But the list is not as one-sided as some have assumed. It features some left-wing sources, for example, Media Matters (progressive media watchdog) and RightWingWatch, (left-wing, “a project of People for the American Way”).

The list would certainly be consistent with a desire to suppress conservative sources where possible and progressive sources where necessary. But the overwhelming impression is that people who truly need protection from all these sources should be getting their reading list curated much closer to home.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has “denied that the company used discriminatory practices in its search results” at a Congressional hearing (CNBC, 2018). He was emphatic on the subject:

Mr Pichai said independent studies had not uncovered any bias and added that his business was “transparent” about the way its search results were generated.

“We evaluate our studies and our research results,” said Mr 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 perceived bias, he said: “I’m confident we don’t approach our work with any political bias.”

He added: “It’s important that we look at outcomes and assess that there’s no evidence of bias.”

Google chief denies political bias claims” at BBC

But now, what are we to make of the claim above?: “He added that it was ‘impossible’ for any individual or group of individuals to manipulate its algorithms.” If we are intended to take his statement at face value, it is incredible.

Algorithms are written by people and reflect their biases. If Sundar Pichai honestly believes that there is no bias, that is, in itself, a big part of the problem.

As Robert J. Marks wrote here recently, “All computer algorithms are biased by design:

The programs are biased to perform whatever tasks programmers tell them to do. The need for bias was first explicitly noted by Tom Mitchell about forty years ago in “The need for biases in learning generalizations.”1 Twenty-five years ago computer scientist Cullen Schaffer noted, in reference to machine learning, “a learner… that achieves at least mildly better-than-chance performance [without bias]… is like a perpetual motion machine.” In the case of learning in machine intelligence, the amount of infused bias can be measured in bits. Any attempt at machine learning or search engine data mining without bias is “futile.”

Robert J. Marks, “Can computer algorithms be free of bias?” at Mind Matters News

In short, if Pichai believes that there is no political bias in Google’s algorithms, he is arguing against the nature of writing algorithms itself—not a good position for a computer guy to be in.

Another part of the problem is, of course, Silicon Valley’s overwhelming dominance in big tech. If Google were a dozen competing companies, there would still be lots of bias but no monolith. Media would once again be the newsstand our grandparents knew, where biases balance each other in a mostly free society.


Next: Why did Vorhies decide to come forward? We’ll also be taking a look at the documents themselves.

Earlier stories in this thread:

What others are saying about the new Google insider’s revelations The documents’ authenticity is not in dispute. What to do about them is another matter. Perhaps we cannot have a realistic discussion of the problems Google.gov creates unless we start with a willingness to pay for search engine services. That allows us to bargain as equals with respect to terms.

Whistleblower says Google called police to do a “wellness check” on him. He can be seen doing a perp walk on the sidewalk in front of his house on the video; some portions transcribed here. In the documents Vorhies unearthed, Google seemed to be “intending to scope the information landscape so that they could create their own version of what was objectively true.”

Is Google a cult? Or does it just act that way? Project Veritas announces that a new rebel Googler has sent nearly 1000 documents on algorithm bias to the DOJ. While we prepare a news story on Zach Vorhies’ revelations, it may be worth asking why one of the world’s largest companies has developed what appears to be the atmosphere of a political cult.

and

Google engineer reveals search engine bias. He found Google pretty neutral in 2014; the bias started with the US 2016 election (Gregory Coppola)


Denyse O'Leary

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Ottawa, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she has published two books on the topic: Faith@Science and By Design or by Chance? She has written for publications such as The Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, and Canadian Living. She is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist'€™s Case for the Existence of the Soul. She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

A Closer Look at Google’s Search Engine Bias