Last month at National Legal and Policy Center we pondered the question whether Google will “cave to Chinese communists while censoring conservatives at home?”
We already knew, and know, the answer. But a month-and-a-half’s time has only further confirmed the answer is “yes.”
Last week The Intercept reported that Google – despite previous claims that downplayed any plans to rejuvenate a search engine in China that complies with the Communist government’s wishes – is indeed furthering the project along. A discovery of a top-secret company memo showed the search engine, code-named “Dragonfly,” would “require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have ‘unilateral access’ to the data.” Searches would be tied to users’ phone numbers, making it easy for the government to track down anyone researching topics or issues they don’t like – such as “freedom” or “dissent,” perhaps.
Citing three anonymous sources within the company, The Intercept reported “leadership discovered the memo and were furious that secret details about the China censorship were being passed between employees who were not supposed to have any knowledge about it.”
Meanwhile back in America, Google declined to send any top officials to widely publicized Congressional hearings this month that addressed the issue of bias against conservatives by Internet technology companies, as well as foreign interference in U.S. elections via social media platforms. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testified, while a chair set up for a top Google official remained empty.
As Google CEO Sundar Pichai avoided the spotlight in Washington, he still felt the heat about the company’s policies and practices. A video of an internal company-wide meeting held the day after the 2016 election, leaked to Breitbart, showed universal extreme distress among employees and executives by Hillary Clinton’s loss. Employees’ expressed their loyalty to Google’s “shared values” as they bemoaned what the American electorate had just done.
“[Co-founder] Sergey Brin compared the motivations of Trump voters to those of fascists,” Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari reported. “[VP for Global Affairs] Kent Walker said populists and nationalists are motivated by hatred, xenophobia, and fear.”
Bokhari also noted that Google’s liberal groupthink problem has leaked into their products, which was proven in their discussions captured on the video. Yet after the revelations, Google denied that its offerings have been affected.
“Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products,” the company told Breitbart. “To the contrary, our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint.”
You don’t have to look hard to find proof to the contrary. Last year employees discussed ways to bias search results so they would favor their pro-open borders immigration beliefs. And President Trump, in widely reported tweets, called out Google for consistently producing negative articles in news search engine results of stories about him.
Any user will find this to be consistently true. For example, a search on Google News this week for stories about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh returned results that were dominated by the liberal New York Times and CNN (which are constantly in open war with the president), with openly leftist sites Huffington Post, The Atlantic and Vox also among top-featured items. Most of the articles were critical or negative about Kavanaugh. Fox News was the singular right-leaning representation, while some of the left-leaning (or lurching) sites were represented several times each.
Now Pichai has told his own employees in an email, last week, that Google does “not bias our products to favor any political agenda…Recent news stories reference an internal email to suggest that we would compromise the integrity of our Search results for a political end. This is absolutely false.”
Following the revelation about the 2016 post-election meeting, and harsh criticism for failing to show up for the Congressional hearings, Pichai has now decided to visit Washington on Friday. The Wall Street Journal reported he will meet privately with Republican members to answer questions and “explain…our approach,” and in an obvious damage-control statement, said “These meetings will continue Google’s long history of engaging with Congress, including testifying seven times to Congress this year.”
The meeting is said to be in advance of another House Judiciary Committee hearing planned for November, after the mid-term election.
Republican Reps. Steve Scalise (La.) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (Wash.) co-wrote in an op-ed for USA Today published Monday that Congress should be reluctant to change laws that increase regulation of tech companies that are so heavily and widely used by the public, and urged the companies to change their practices to avoid such a fate.
“We are challenging all Silicon Valley CEOs to embrace their role as both champions and stewards of a free and fair public square,” they wrote. “You should present users with clear, consistent and transparent content management standards — and openly communicate when you update or change your practices…This will restore trust that users can use these platforms without fear of being victims of violence (like Scalise), or skepticism that what they are seeing is filtered through an ideological lens.”