Trump ac­cuses Google of rigged search re­sults about him

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is ac­cus­ing Google and other U.S. tech com­pa­nies of rig­ging search re­sults about him “so that al­most all sto­ries & news is BAD” — and though he is of­fer­ing no ev­i­dence, a top ad­viser says the White House is “tak­ing a look” at whether Google should face fed­eral reg­u­la­tion.

Google is push­ing back sharply, say­ing Trump’s claim sim­ply wasn’t true: “We never rank search re­sults to ma­nip­u­late po­lit­i­cal sen­ti­ment.”

The pres­i­dent’s tweets Tues­day echoed his fa­mil­iar at­tacks on the news me­dia — and a con­ser­va­tive talk­ing point that Cal­i­for­nia-based tech com­pa­nies run by CEOs with lib­eral lean­ings don’t give equal weight to op­pos­ing po­lit­i­cal view­points. They also re­vealed anew his deep-seated frus­tra­tion over not get­ting the credit he be­lieves he de­serves.

The pres­i­dent, who has said he runs on lit­tle sleep, jumped onto Twit­ter be­fore dawn Tues­day to re­hash his re­cent com­plaints about al­leged sup­pres­sion of con­ser­va­tive voices and pos­i­tive news about him.

He fol­lowed that up with vague threats in Oval Of­fice com­ments.

“I think Google has re­ally taken ad­van­tage of a lot of peo­ple, and I think that’s a very se­ri­ous thing. That’s a very se­ri­ous charge,” Trump said, adding that Google, Twit­ter, Face­book and oth­ers “bet­ter be care­ful, be­cause you can’t do that to peo­ple.”

Trump claimed that “we have lit­er­ally thou­sands and thou­sands of com­plaints com­ing in . ... So I think that Google and Twit­ter and Face­book, they’re re­ally tread­ing on very, very trou­bled ter­ri­tory and they have to be care­ful.”

Larry Kud­low, the pres­i­dent’s top eco­nomic ad­viser, told re­porters later that the White House is “tak­ing a look” at whether Google searches should be sub­ject to some gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion. Trump of­ten points proudly to his cut­ting of gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions as a spur for eco­nomic gains.

In his tweets, Trump said — without of­fer­ing ev­i­dence — that “Google search re­sults for ‘Trump News’ shows only the view­ing/re­port­ing of Fake New Me­dia. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & oth­ers, so that al­most all sto­ries & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prom­i­nent. Re­pub­li­can/Con­ser­va­tive & Fair Me­dia is shut out. Il­le­gal?”

He added, again with no ev­i­dence, that “96% of re­sults on “Trump News” are from Na­tional Left-Wing Me­dia, very dan­ger­ous.”

A search query Tues­day morn­ing, sev­eral hours af­ter the pres­i­dent tweeted, showed sto­ries from CNN, ABC News, Fox News and

the Mar­ketWatch busi­ness site, among oth­ers. A sim­i­lar search later in the day for “Trump” had Fox News, the pres­i­dent’s fa­vored ca­ble net­work, among the top re­sults.

Google, based in Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, said its aim is to make sure its search en­gine users quickly get the most rel­e­vant an­swers.

“Search is not used to set a po­lit­i­cal agenda and we don’t bias our re­sults to­ward any po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy,” the com­pany said in a state­ment. “Ev­ery year, we is­sue hun­dreds of im­prove­ments to our al­go­rithms to en­sure they sur­face high-qual­ity con­tent in re­sponse to users’ queries. We con­tin­u­ally work to im­prove Google Search and we never rank search re­sults to ma­nip­u­late po­lit­i­cal sen­ti­ment.”

Ex­perts sug­gested that Trump’s com­ments showed a mis­un­der­stand­ing of how search en­gines work.

Google searches aim to sur­face the most rel­e­vant pages in re­sponse to a user’s query, even be­fore he or she fin­ishes typ­ing. The an­swers that ap­pear first are the ones Google’s for­mu­las, with some help from hu­man con­tent re­view­ers, deem to be the most au­thor­i­ta­tive, in­for­ma­tive and rel­e­vant. Many fac­tors help de­cide the ini­tial re­sults, in­clud­ing how much time peo­ple spend on a page, how many other pages link to it, how well it’s de­signed and more.

Trump and some sup­port­ers have long ac­cused Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies of be­ing bi­ased against them. While some com­pany ex­ec­u­tives may lean lib­eral, they have long as­serted that their prod­ucts are without po­lit­i­cal bias.

Me­dia an­a­lyst Ken Doc­tor said it doesn’t make sense for mass-mar­ket busi­nesses like Google to lean ei­ther way po­lit­i­cally. He char­ac­ter­ized the com­plaints as a “sign of our times,” adding that, years ago, if the head of Gen­eral Elec­tric was sup­port­ing a Re­pub­li­can can­di­date, peo­ple who dis­agreed wouldn’t then go out and boycott GE prod­ucts.

“The tem­per­a­ture has risen on this,” Doc­tor said.

Steven An­dres, who teaches about man­age­ment in­for­ma­tion sys­tems at San Diego State Univer­sity, said peo­ple of­ten as­sume that if you give a com­puter the same in­puts, no mat­ter where you are, that you “get the same out­puts.”

But it doesn’t work that way, he said. “You’re see­ing dif­fer­ent things ev­ery mo­ment of the day and the al­go­rithms are al­ways try­ing to change the re­sults.”

Trump didn’t say what he based his tweets on. But con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist Paula Boy­lard had said in a week­end blog post that she found “bla­tant pri­or­i­ti­za­tion of left-lean­ing and anti-Trump me­dia out­lets” in search re­sults.

Ellen Wat­ter­son reen­acts an 1830s farm worker milking a cow named May in a barn at Old Stur­bridge Vil­lage, in Stur­bridge, Mass. With a $75,000 grant from the Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Hu­man­i­ties, Old Stur­bridge Vil­lage, a liv­ing his­tory mu­seum that de­picts life in a small New Eng­land town in the 1830s, is tak­ing a deep look at the way it presents the past, in­clud­ing the roles of mi­nori­ties and women, in an ef­fort to stay rel­e­vant to a 21st cen­tury au­di­ence. Photo: AP/Steven Senne

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