Donald Trump’s latest attack on Google is full of lies
Donald Trump is gunning for Google as the leader of the free world believes that the search engine is deliberately rigging results to make him look bad. He also seems to believe that Google is treating his presidency differently from that of Obamas, so much so that he’s even gone and pinned a video to his Twitter profile in a move he believes is proof that the search giant is working against him.
In this video, he calls out Google for not linking to his State of the Union addresses, when it had previously been linking out to Obama’s. However, it turns out the US President is spreading his own brand of “fake news” as there are multiple inaccuracies in his video – as pointed out by Gizmodo.
Firstly, Google says this is simply not true. The search giant claims that it did not feature a link in 2017 to Trump’s “State of the Union” because it was actually just an address to Congress. Google did the same with Obama in 2009 because it, too, was simply an address to Congress instead of a State of the Union.
“On January 30 2018, we highlighted the live stream of President Trump’s State of the Union on the google.com homepage,” the company said in a statement. “We have historically not promoted the first address to Congress by a new President, which is technically not a State of the Union address. As a result, we didn’t include a promotion on google.com for this address in either 2009 or 2017.”
For proof on the matter, Google linked to a Trump devotee’s subreddit r/The_Donald where users had posted how to watch Trump’s State of the Union address on 30 January 2018.
After more digging, it was also evident that images in Trump’s video had been doctored – clearly showing that even he thinks his followers are clearly idiots.
A section of the video supposedly outlining the Google homepage showing a link to Obama’s State of the Union in 2016 displays the wrong Google logo. Google changed its logo to a sans-serif font in 2015 – this means the 2016 screenshot is fake as it displays the old version of Google’s logo. This can be verified as shots saved on The Wayback Machine just days before the screenshot Trump’s video used clearly shows the new logo.
It’s obvious that facts aren’t what’s important to Trump. Instead, he’s trying to build momentum against corporations like Google who he feels supersede his power by presenting things in a way that are largely unfavourable to him and his presidency.
How Donald Trump’s attack on Google Search started
Trump first started his campaign against Google search by firing off an inflamatory tweet – as every leader of the free world should.
“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media,” he wrote on Twitter. “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?”
To make matters worse, in the president’s eyes at least, he believes that after studying the search results almost all were “left-wing”. Trump has provided zero evidence for this claim and, after conducting my own rigorous investigation of googling “Trump News” and looking at the results, it’s a reasonably even spread with a mix of positive and impartial stories from Fox News, CNN, the BBC and the New York Times.
“96 per cent of results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous,” he continued. “Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation – will be addressed!”
Google’s algorithm is shrouded in secrecy – largely to avoid other search engine developers from mimicking it too closely. It’s known that Google takes into account a user’s location and browsing history, but don’t take into account anything to do with social media searches or interests beyond what people may have clicked on Google before. It may explain why Trump’s tweets are different from what other users may see.
Google has previously stated that it will be looking into how its algorithm ranks and promotes stories in the wake of “fake news” creeping into results. Instead of providing impartial results, partisan and misleading sources had started to appear, muddying the waters of what could be considered actual fact.
Google spokesperson Riva Sciuto issued a statement around Trump’s allegations saying that when users “type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds. Search is not used to set a political agenda, and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.”
This hasn’t stopped Trump though, his focus on Google has led his administration to begin exploring the possibility of regulating Google. This decision isn’t just a simply regulating a business, it would be a direct challenge to the protection of free speech online.
Naturally, Democrats, lawmakers, tech experts, free-speech advocates and even others in the Republican party all believe that government shouldn’t play a role in monitoring search results for content online.
“We can all agree on one thing: Poison is being spread on the Internet, but what is poison? Somebody is going to have to step in and be a neutral arbiter of what can go on, and what can’t,” said Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy (La.), who admitted that he hadn’t seen Trump’s tweet. “I don’t want to see the government do that.”
Trump isn’t just focused on Google, in a press conference on Tuesday he also took his warnings to Facebook and Twitter too. “I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people. And I think that’s a very serious thing and that’s a very serious charge,” he said. “I think what Google and what others are doing, if you look at what is going on at Twitter, if you look at what is going on in Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people. You can’t do it.
“I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory. And they have to be careful. It’s not fair to large portions of the population.”