Documents given to The Daily Caller show the Internet gatekeeper maintains a manually controlled blacklist against conservative websites that determines how and where their content appears in search results. The censorship is intended to filter out of top results content that runs afoul of Google’s “good neighbor” and “misrepresentation” policies.
“The deceptive_news domain blacklist is going to be used by many search features to filter problematic sites that violate the good neighbor and misrepresentation policies,” the leaked document says, later adding:
“The beginning of the workflow starts when a website is placed on a watchlist which is used for monitoring of sites to determine if they violate the Good Neighbor Policy. This watchlist is maintained and stored by Ares (apparently a Google database) with access restricted to policy & enforcement specialists working on the Good Neighbor Policy. Access to the listing can also be shared at the discretion of pcounsel and legal investigations on a need to know basis to enforce or enrich the policy violations. The investigation of the watchlist is done in the tool Athena, the Ares manual review tool, and intakes signals from Search, Webspan, and Ares in order to complete reviews. … Once a domain is determined to be violating the misrepresentation policy or the Good Neighbor Policy, such patterns are then added to deceptive_news_blacklist_domains.txt by the Trust & Safety team.”
According to the Daily Caller’s report on the document, the policy was approved by Google’s head of search, Ben Gomes; Google Fellow Pandu Nayak; and software engineer Paul Haahr, who manages “fringe ranking: not showing fake news, hate speech, conspiracy theories, or science/medical/history denial unless we’re sure that’s what the user wants,” according to his bio.
Included on the blacklist, according to Daily Caller, are conservative sites Gateway Pundit, Matt Walsh’s blog, “teapartyeconomist.com,” the personal website of Breitbart and Jerusalem Post contributor Caroline Glick, Conservative Tribune, and The American Spectator.
“Apparently Google wants to protect the American people from our polysyllaborated words and occasional long sentences, and in the course of doing so, they lied to Congress,” said R. Emmett Tyrrell, founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator, sarcastically. “And we may be looking into them in the near future.”
Indeed, it appears Pichai lied to Congress. In his December 11th testimony before the House Judiciary Committee (controlled by the Republicans at the time), he told Congress members he leads the company “without political bias” and that “it is not possible for an individual employee or groups of employees to manipulate our search results.”
“We don’t manually intervene on any particular search result,” he told Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat.
Pichai made the claim despite earlier leaked (to Breitbart) evidence from an anonymous Google employee that showed staffers meddleon search results on a consistent basis. The company allegedly maintains a “blacklist” file for “controversial” terms that produced weaker results for conservative sources of information, and “whitelists” that boost positive results for liberals.
“We have tons of white- and blacklists that humans manually curate,” one of the company’s engineers wrote in the leaked documents. “Hopefully this isn’t surprising or particularly controversial.”
Now there’s the clear and convincing evidence received by The Daily Caller that Google utilizes a “manual review tool” to keep up its blacklist.
“You can’t trust the human judgment of Google’s Trust and Safety team,” the Google source told the conservative news website.
An official Google spokesperson stood by Pichai’s December claims, stating, “We do not manually determine the order of any search result, nor do our algorithms or policies attempt to make any judgement on the political leanings of a website.”
A recently formed coalition of conservative groups, the Free Speech Alliance, responded to the latest censorship news regarding Google:
“When questioned before Congress whether his company manipulated its search results, Google CEO Sundar Pichai unequivocally denied it. We now know that he lied. Google and Pichai not only owe an explanation to Congress, but to the American public. We demand full transparency. This deceptive abuse of power cannot go unchecked. If Google is not held accountable, all of us – liberals and conservatives alike – will lose.”
Unfortunately Democrats and Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York now control the House Judiciary Committee. During Pichai’s December testimony, Nadler said, “I must dispense with the complete illegitimate fantasy dreamed up by some conservatives that Google and other platforms have anti-conservative bias.”