Google Employees Wanted To Manipulate Search Results

A series of emails from Google employees discussed ways they could alter the company’s search algorithms to serve information in query results on how people could contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies shortly after the Trump administration issues a ban on travel to the U.S. from some countries in January 2017.

The emails, read by The Wall Street Journal, show “cautionary notes” about engaging in political activity, but suggest ways to use Google’s technology to stop “islamophobic” practices. These were algorithmically biased results from search terms such as “Islam,” “Muslim,” “Iran,”  and other categorized as “prejudiced algorithmically” and biased search results from search terms such as “Mexico,” “Hispanic,” and “Latino,” among others.

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Google said none of the ideas discussed were implemented, the WSJ cites. A company spokesperson told the WSJ that the emails were just a “brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented.”

One email from a search product marketing employee discussed a brainstorm session going through the company’s marketing division. The string listed several specific ideas. Some involved finding ways to “actively” counter Google queries that actively returned anti-Islamic and anti-Hispanic search results.

Some of the ideas highlighted by the WSJ include “Actively counter islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc,” and “Actively counter prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

Others focused on an experimental feature called Highlights that allows politicians and musicians to post text updates directly in search results.

There has been an ongoing debate as to whether Google manipulates search results and whether or not those results show bias in one area or another. The Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to meet next week with some state attorneys general to discuss concerns of anti-conservative bias.

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