In a recent remote House judiciary committee meeting on anti-trust law in the United States, leaders of Big Tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and others were grilled by the members of the Committees. The representatives, who tend to disagree on every issue under the Sun, agreed however that there are deep rooted problems within the industry.
As expected, the anti-Conservative bias of the tech giants came up during the course of the hearing. Republican Representative from Ohio, Jim Jordan, asserted that “Big Tech’s out to get Conservatives.” He said, “I will just cut to the chase. Big Tech is out to get Conservatives. That’s not a suspicion, that’s not a hunch, that’s a fact.”
Big tech’s out to get conservatives. It’s time they face the consequences. pic.twitter.com/jfPRPL1rZ1— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) July 29, 2020
Jim Jordan highlighted instances of discrimination of bias against Conservatives including the time when Google removed the homepages of Breitbart and Dailly Caller, two prominent right-wing media platforms. He also mentioned how Google threatened to demonetise The Federalist recently. He also criticised Google and YouTube for censoring content based on WHO recommendations, an organisation that has spread misinformation about the Coronavirus from the very beginning and engaged in apologia for China.
The Republican Ohio Representative also highlighted the manner in which Facebook and Amazon discriminates against conservative opinion. He mentioned that Facebook employees have admitted that they regularly censor conservative opinions. He also slammed Twitter for its censorship of US President Donald Trump. Jim Jordan said ‘there will have to be consequences’.
Jim Jordan also grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai related to interference in political elections. The Republican Representative asked Pichai whether he could assure American citizens that Google will not deliberately attempt to tilt the elections in favour of presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden.
“We view both campaign strategies and political ads as an important part of free speech in a democratic society and engage with campaigns according to law and approach the work in a non-patrician way,” Pichai told Jim Jordan. The Republican Representative was not satisfied with the answer and asked whether Google will not “tailor features” in such a way that it favours Joe Biden’s chances of winning the elections.
Sundar Pichai replied, “We won’t do any work to politically tilt anything in one way or another. It’s against our core values.” Jim Jordan then reminded him that Eliana Murillo, the head of multicultural marketing at Google, had admitted in an email that Google made donations to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The Google CEO said that it has been communicated to employees that any personal activity such as these must be done on their own time. Throughout the interaction, Sundar Pichai appeared quite uncomfortable during the whole interaction. This is not the first time that Big Tech has been accused of bias and Conservatives have regularly complained that social media platforms especially discriminate against them.
In a recent report, Breitbart has documented the manner in which Google has been working deliberately to limit the reach of its content. The media outlet said that consistent with the comments made by top Google Executives at an internal meeting, the details of which were leaked to Breitbart, where they bemoaned Trump’s victory and expressed their desire to prevent such an election outcome in the future, Google had started limiting its reach which would directly lead to influencing people’s opinions on politics.
Breitbart said that Google had suppressed its search visibility by 99.7% since 2016. Furthermore, Breitbart said that organic Google traffic to its side had reduced by 63 percent between first half of 10`6 and first half of 2020. The report also said that after the 5th of May, traffic to Breitbart from Google for search terms related to Joe Biden had dropped to zero.
“I’ve never experienced such a wholesale removal of rank and visibility on specific concepts on a site as I have seen being applied to Breitbart, a veteran SEO expert was quoted as saying. “Removal is the key, not dropping in rank, which would be an organic devaluing. These ranks are just simply gone, overnight, while other topics have been untouched.”
He added, “The sheer fact that there are thousands of pages of Breitbart content that reference Biden that were ranking before May 6, that now have no rank or impressions on search is a sign of manipulation, not algorithmic devaluing.” Another academic told Breitbart that he is of the opinion that it has been put on a Google blacklist or multiple blacklists.
Breitbart stated, “Google has stated its intention clearly: to make sure the 2016 election of President Trump was a “blip” in history. Sure enough, with less than five months before the election, Google is manipulating election-related search results.” “The scope and audacity (and hubris) make any alleged foreign interference in the 2016 election pale by comparison. And, it will surely warrant an even greater post-election congressional scrutiny,” it added.
Recently, Twitter censored US President Donald Trump’s tweet for threatening to crack down on violent protesters rioting on the streets of the USA. The White House criticised Twitter heavily for selectively censoring Donald Trump while allowing glorification of Jihad from other leaders on its platform. This amounted to direct election interference and the conduct of Twitter was criticised by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as well.
Censorship of non-Left political opinion has also been rife in India. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has also amplified toxic far-Left voices during his visit to India where he held a placard that advocated smashing ‘Brahminical Patriarchy’. It has also been observed that Twitter is overly enthusiastic in banning accounts that support the Hindutva ideology.
While no study has been conducted thus far in India to investigate whether Google has been manipulating search results in the country, it is irrational to believe that the tech giant will refrain from engaging in activities in India that it has engaged in the United States. Under such circumstances, it is of great significance that the Indian Government take greater interest in investigating whether such tech giants have been engaging in malpractices in the country.
In this regard, it is important to mention that the Government of India has banned TikTok and other Chinese apps for being a threat to national security. There is no good reason why we should believe that Google and other tech giants are not attempting such tricks either.