Google Accused of Manipulating UK News Results

A Google whistleblower told The Epoch Times that the Internet giant has an “anti-conservative bias” and search results are “reconfigured to what the establishment thinks.”

He added that “we have to use whatever democracy we have left to stop this.”

It follows allegations from a Daily Mail study that articles from mostly left-wing outlets were returned among the most searched terms on Google about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, prompting the country’s culture secretary to say that it “tells us what many have suspected all along.”

On June 10, the Daily Mail showed that searching for Johnson on Google presented far more results from news sites hostile to him. The Guardian came up 38 times, The Independent was cited 14 times, and BBC News came up 24 times. More conservative-leaning outlets such as The Daily Telegraph came up four times, the Daily Express three times, and MailOnline twice.

The response was noted by UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorres, who is setting up the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) that will oversee a new regulatory regime, and who is currently looking at various platforms to understand how algorithms can impact users’ online experiences.

“I have raised the issue of bias and algorithms distorting democratic content and opinion with Google,” Dorres told the Daily Mail. “They have promised to revert to me with evidence that this is not the case which I have yet to receive.”

“This evidence published by the Mail is fairly conclusive and tells us what many have suspected all along. We are looking at how we can address unfair bias and distortion in the forthcoming Digital Competition Bill,” she told the publication.

Google Has AI Censorship Engine

In 2019, Zach Vorhies blew the whistle on how Google specifically rewrote its news algorithms to target former President Donald Trump, when Vorhies released hundreds of documents detailing the Internet giant’s anti-conservative bias.

Vorhies downloaded 950 pages of internal documents describing Google’s ongoing censorship regime and then delivered them to the Department of Justice. He also disclosed the documents to the public via the journalism nonprofit Project Veritas.

NTD Photo
Zach Vorhies said Google’s principles to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful are no longer practiced at Santa Clara County Superior Court for PragerU’s lawsuit against YouTube and Google on Oct. 25, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

Vorhies told The Epoch Times that Google has created an “echo chamber” and that it rewrote its news algorithm to rank left-wing outlets higher.

Google uses what is called an “EAT” score, or “Expertise, Authoritative, and Trustworthiness.” This is used in the final page rank of every website based on the reputation of the website, topic, or person.

“The EAT score is generated about what the media outlets think about you. What does Wikipedia think? What does the MSM [mainstream media] think? Why it’s an echo chamber is because they rank which media is allowed to show up on their website,” he said, adding that the higher the score, the better the ranking.

A leaked document shows that The Wall Street Journal ranks at the top, followed by ABC, PBS, CBS, AP, and CNN at the top. Google lists Infowars owner and well-known radio host Alex Jones’s network with a “negative score of information value.”

He said that his assumption was that Google has a “similar ranking for the British establishment,” which is causing some sites to go up and some down.

“All Google has to do is that they have to base their algorithms on what the consensus of the establishment thinks and they reconfigure to what the establishment thinks,” he said.

Vorhies said that Google has a “real censorship engine,” an AI-led system called Machine Learning Fairness that it uses along with various blacklists and secret page rank scores to control information.

“Machine Learning Fairness is now taking over this page rank score because Google started to transition so fast to the left that there was too much inertia in this human-based rating system. So what they have done is that they have transitioned to this AI system that can deboost and rerank. And they can do it in the course of a 24-hour news cycle,” he said.

Silicon Valley Converted to the ‘Hard Left’

Vorhies recommended looking for “escape hatches” where people can still access information, since many Silicon Valley companies have converted to the “hard left.”

Vorhies believes other companies could soon be forced to comply with “disinformation” regulations and have to sign up to network blacklists.

“They are going to censor all the conservatives. What’s happening is that they are closing in on the spaces where they are going to get heterodox opinions and they are closing it down. If you want to still access those sites, you will have to go to the URL directly or you are going to have to use one of these alternative search engines,” he said.

“If we don’t stop the left, we are going to have a media system that is going to be like those in communist countries, where everything is highly controlled and manipulated,” said Vorhies.

“That’s where we are headed,” he added.

Google ‘Presents a Serious Threat’

Dr. Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT), is best known for leading studies looking at how tech giants influence human behaviour.

NTD Photo
Dr. Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, in Washington, on Sep. 4, 2019. (York Du/NTD)

He told The Epoch Times that the Daily Mail’s kind of “study” is deeply flawed.

However, Epstein has carried out extensive research on why he believes that Google “presents a serious threat to democracy and human autonomy.”

“The sample is too small, and it doesn’t take into account that real Internet content is personalised,” said Epstein by email.

“The only way to really know what Google-and-the-Gang are showing people is by looking over the shoulders (with their permission) of a large and diverse number of real users. We’ve been doing rigorous analyses of this sort on a large scale repeatedly since 2016.”

For example, in 2016 he conducted a secret monitoring project that showed Google hid negative autocomplete search results for Hillary Clinton months before the election.

He says permanent, large-scale, monitoring systems are the only way to protect democracy.

In April, Epstein told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” that his findings were “frightening” because of the tech companies’ ability to manipulate and change people’s behaviour on a global scale.

He also estimated that Google’s search engine, with or without any deliberate planning by Google employees, was currently determining the outcomes of upwards of 25 percent of the world’s national elections.

Google did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

A spokesperson told the Daily Mail: “The Daily Mail’s claims are completely inaccurate. Distorting results in the way they suggest would harm our business and is fundamentally not how Search works.”

“Numerous independent studies including by Stanford and The Economist have demonstrated there is no political bias in Search and News results; as the Economist concluded: ‘Google rewards reputable reporting, not left-wing politics,'” Google added.

From The Epoch Times