President Donald Trump has criticised Google for what he sees as hiding “fair media” coverage of him in its search engine results in a way that amounts to left-wing political bias and negativity.
The US President’s latest swipe at a tech giant accused Google of prioritising negative news stories from the “national left-wing media”.
He went so far as to say that his perceived promotion by Google of mainstream (left-wing) media outlets such as CNN, and the suppression of conservative political voices amounted to a dangerous action and a “very serious situation”.
Prompted By Fox News Report?
It has long been known that President Trump’s favourite (right-wing) news channel is Fox News. Many commentators believe that it may be no coincidence that his criticism of Google via Twitter followed the morning after a feature about the matter on Fox News.
The segment featured details of a report by Paula Bolyard who said she had performed test searches in Google on many different computers registered to different users, and that she found that 96% of the news articles presented by Google for the phrase “Trump news” were from left-wing news outlets. This is the exact figure that President Trump reported in his tweets. While Ms Bolyard accepted that this was not a scientific experiment, she noted that it did suggest a “bias against right-leaning content.”.
Paula Bolyard is also a supervising editor at PJ Media, the conservative news site.
Search Not Used To Set A Political Agenda
Google’s response has been to re-iterate that its search feature, which is controlled by automatic algorithms, is not used to set a political agenda, and that the results of searches aren’t biased toward any political ideology.
Google’s search algorithms are reported to take into account over 200 different factors, and these algorithms are regularly changed and improved to make sure that they find the most relevant links to user queries as quickly as possible.
One possible explanation for sites such as CNN.com and NYTimes.com ranking highly in searches is the fact that they are likely to have many readers linking to them, and they are very popular sites.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Google (Alphabet Inc) is a private company, and as one U.S. member of Congress Ted Lieu pointed out in a tweet responding to President Trump’s tweets, courts would not tolerate governments trying to dictate the free speech algorithms of private companies.
It is, however, important to note that President Trump’s comments can have a direct and fast effect on any countries / industries / businesses that he focuses on. For example, as well as shares of Alphabet falling 0.3% after Mr Trump’s accusations, President Trump’s warning against countries doing business with Iran forced the EU to bring in a blocking statute to protect EU firms and a means to allow EU businesses affected by the sanctions to sue the US administration.
Many see these latest comments as a continuation of President Trump’s criticism of news media coverage of him, a desire exert control over what’s being said, and as a way to apply more pressure to tech companies to clamp down on anything that could point to any foreign interference in and disruption of US politics, especially in the wake of accusations of Russian influence and Facebook being used to spread messages that may have affected the US election result. Facebook and Twitter have also been in the US administration’s firing line over accusations of removing content from some conservatives, and being called upon to remove conspiracy driven content and hate speech.
This is a war of words with economic consequences that is likely to continue.