Google dodges Clinton health problems in search autocomplete – expert
Google denied the allegations, claiming that its search engine doesn’t favor any candidate.
Meanwhile, several people provided anecdotal evidence of how Google’s autocomplete feature for searches has been biased in Clinton’s favor, including Dr. Robert Epstein from the American Institute for Behavioral Research & Technology. In an essay published by Sputnik News on Monday, he alleges that the search manipulation continues, as evidenced by how Google handles searches about Clinton’s health, which is currently becoming a major campaign issue.
Epstein compares autocomplete results for Google and other major search engines, including Microsoft’s Bing and Yahoo. The results indicated that Google manipulates autocomplete so that a user who begins to type “Hillary Clinton’s health” into the search field, for example, will see several suggested completions, but none of them will be include “Hillary Clinton’s health,” or anything else that might be seen as negative about the Democratic candidate.
The effect of such tinkering can be profound, Epstein says, considering that as many as 20 percent of undecided voters can be manipulated into supporting a candidate using such techniques.
“Without whistleblowers or warrants, no one can prove Google executives are using digital shenanigans to influence elections, but I don’t see how we can rule out that possibility. There is nothing illegal about manipulating people using search suggestions and search rankings – quite the contrary, in fact – and it makes good financial sense for a company to use every legal means at its disposal to support its preferred candidates,” he remarked.
Allegations that Google was using its search autocomplete feature and dominant market position to swing votes in favor of Democratic candidates surfaced as early as June.
In a video released by Matt Lieberman, the tech giant is accused of favoring Clinton when suggesting how to complete search requests as they are being typed in by users. The search autocomplete feature has been available on Google since 2004.