Election interference is happening.
According to a new report from Breitbart, Google has been manipulating its search platform so as to drive down traffic to conservative news sites.
For its report, Breitbart focused on just a few of the many ways that Google is suppressing conservative news sites, starting with the manipulation of algorithms to lower the search visibility of such websites.
Search visibility just refers to how easy it is for an internet user to find a website’s content using a search platform, like Google. What Breitbart has found is that its own search visibility on Google has dropped by 99.7 percent since 2016.
Breitbart reports that this dropoff took place in three stages:
The first drop took place shortly after (and inferentially in response to) the 2016 election. The second took place in July of 2019. The third took place in May of this year, after which (1) unless a user types “Breitbart” into the search bar (and even then), they are highly unlikely to get any Breitbart content search results, and (2) Breitbart search results for “Joe Biden” and other Biden-related search terms have gone to zero. Even if you specifically search for Breitbart News headlines, you are unlikely to find them in Google search.
This last bit really drives home just how powerful Google is. Breitbart found that after Google’s core search update, which took place during the first week of May, it became just about impossible for an internet user to find Joe Biden related Breitbart articles using Google.
Breitbart has a pretty convincing graph that shows that such articles were findable before the first week of May, and then all of a sudden they were not. Breitbart spoke to a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert who said:
I’ve never experienced such a wholesale removal of rank and visibility on specific concepts on a site as I have seen being applied to Breitbart. Removal is the key, not dropping in rank, which would be an organic devaluing. These ranks are just simply gone, overnight, while other topics have been untouched.
According to Breitbart, Google search rankings also support this idea that conservative websites are being suppressed.
“Eight of the ten lowest-ranked sites (Breitbart News, Fox News, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Reason, The Federalist, The Daily Wire, the Washington Examiner) in the chart above are conservative,” the outlet wrote. “Meanwhile, all ten of the top-ranked sites, with the arguable exception of heavy.com, are from the corporate, liberal-leaning, or leftist media. Far-left Vox.com is placed third.”
According to Dr. Robert Epstein, the senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, Google has blacklisted sites like Breitbart.
We shouldn’t be surprised that this is happening. Google is simply making good on the promise it made to its employees – in the video that was leaked after President Trump’s 2016 election victory – to make the “populism [and] nationalism] that got Trump elected a “blip” or “hiccup” in history.
We hear all the time about Russian election interference and Chinese election interference and how steps are being taken to prevent it. But, what about this Google election interference? It’s a massive threat to the legitimacy of our elections, and, as such, something needs to be done about it.